Kell Brook (36-2, 25KOs) makes his return to the ring on Saturday night after a 9 month lay-off against Sergey Rabchenko (29-2, 22KOs) at the Sheffield Arena.
This will be the first time that Brook has fought at super-welterweight after defeats to Gennady Golovkin at middleweight and Errol Spence Jr at welterweight, where in both fights in suffered fractured eye sockets.
It was inevitable that the ‘Special One’ would make the jump into the super-welterweight division after losing his IBF welterweight title last year in front of the Sheffield faithful at Bramall Lane. After ballooning up to 160 lbs to fight Triple G in 2016 and then back down to 147 lbs to defend his IBF strap a year later against Spence, I think the 154 lb division is the perfect fit for Brook.
The 31-year old will hope he can rise through the ranks quickly enough to get another world title shot. There is no reason why the Sheffield-based fighter can’t pick up a world title this year and then go on to unify the division. All of the current world champions; Sadam Ali, Jarrett Hurd, Jermell Charlo & Erislandy Lara are all beatable especially for someone as good as Brook.
The journey starts against a solid super-welterweight in Sergey Rabchenko who at 32-years of age has had 31 fights, fought 142 rounds and has a 71% knockout ratio. The Minsk-based challenger stands at 5’10” a one inch height advantage over Brook and has fought as a super-welterweight his entire career. His combined opponent’s record is 432-306-23 but he didn’t really fight anyone significant until his 15th professional fight against Martin Concepcion who he stopped in two rounds.
I believe Rabchenko’s most impressive performances came in 2012 against Ryan Rhodes who he stopped in the seventh round and Cedric Vitu who he beat by split decision. Both fights were sandwiched between two unanimous decisions over Bradley Pryce but in 2014 he suffered his first defeat against Anthony Mundine. After a couple of comeback fights he lost for the second time against American Tony Harrison but this time the Belarusian was knocked out in round 9.
Once again Sergey has had a couple of comeback victories but unfortunately for him I can only see another knockout loss against the more polished and accomplished fighter in Kell Brook.
The Brit has had 38 fights, fought 195 rounds and has a knockout ratio of 66%. Although his combined opponent record does not look as good as Rabchenko’s at 767-753-56, you have to remember he fought several tough journeymen in his first 16 professional fights.
Guys like Peter Buckley, Brian Coleman, Ernie Smith (x3), Leeroy Williamson, Karl Taylor, Geraint Harvey and David Kirk all gave Brook the most valuable experience any fighter could have. Those 7 fighters alone fought a combined total of 775 fights. If you take away the records of those journeymen, Brook’s combined opponent record reads 657-121-23 which then reflects the amount of quality fighters Brook fought in his next 22 bouts.
Brook went on to win the British welterweight title against Barrie Jones and defended the strap three times winning all by knockout. When he took the step up onto the international stage he was still dominant defeating contenders Michael Jennings, Luis Galarza, Matthew Hatton, Carson Jones (x2), Hector David Saldivia and Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Kell Brook won the IBF world welterweight title against Shawn Porter who was undefeated at the time and defended it three times before he lost it to Errol Spence Jr last year which was after his first defeat to Gennady Golovkin at middleweight.
Rabchenko is definitely the perfect comeback fight for Kell Brook in his debut fight at super-welterweight but I do think that excluding any injuries Brook should come through very comfortably against the Belarusian. I am going for a knockout victory for Brook and to look good doing it.
McDonnell v Yafai
On the undercard we have an intriguing domestic match-up between Gavin McDonnell (18-1-2, 5KOs) and Gamal Yafai (14-0, 7KOs) in the super-bantamweight division.
McDonnell is the more experienced fighter who at 31-years old has had 21 fights, fought 157 rounds and is ranked number 1 in Britain. The Doncaster-based fighter is taller than Gamal standing at 5’ 9.5” and has a combined opponent record of 247-203-14.
Yafai is 26-years old, has had 14 fights, fought 77 rounds, a KO ratio of 50% and a combined opponent record of 127-110-16. Gamal is ranked number three in Britain so this really is a domestic fight to keep a beady eye on.
McDonnell will bring relentless pressure throughout the fight but lacks punching power, Yafai will need to counter that pressure and push Gavin back onto his heels. I can see this being a very close fight but I am going for the youngster from Birmingham, Gamal Yafai to come through and win a split decision.
Rest of the fight card…
Also on the undercards Dave Allen (12-3-1, 9KOs) seeks revenge against Jamaican Lenroy Thomas (22-4, 10KOs) after his split decision loss in 2017. I think the White Rhino will come through this time on points.
Kid Galahad (23-0, 14KOs) has had five straight stoppages and I think that run will continue against opponent Irving Berry (23-7-2, 10KOs).
Enjoy the fights ladies and gents