Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Brook vs DeLuca: Kell Brook must prove he still belongs at the sharp end of elite boxing
Live on Sky Sports on Saturday night in his home city, pressure is on the 'Special One' to shine
Last Updated: 03/02/20 12:08pm
When Kell Brook is cheered into the ring on Saturday night in Sheffield, where they adore him, we do not know what version of the former world champion will turn up.
All of the prizes are still within his reach - a world title fight in a second division or a blockbuster against Amir Khan. He just needs to reach out and grab that chance.
Brook fights Mark DeLuca on Saturday at 7pm, live on Sky Sports, but the true purpose of this outing is to find out what he's got left in the tank. There is reason for optimism he can still cut it at the elite end of the sport.
"People are writing me off," Brook had admitted. "My last fight wasn't fantastic. I've got a lot to prove. All those who think I'm past it? I'll show them."
He spent the entirety of 2019 on the shelf, and before that did not set the world alight with his most recent win over Michael Zerafa. He has threatened retirement if he cannot explode back onto the scene this weekend.
"If I don't have an unbelievable performance, it doesn't count on February 8, I'm not happy," he said.
"It's got to be spectacular. You've got to go away and think 'he's back better than ever.' That's what I want people to say."
There is a glimmer back in Brook's eye that has been missing for too long. He is annoyed by questions about Khan, a fight that remains fantasy several years after it was first mentioned. That spite bodes well, this week.
"2020 I want to be two-time champion," he said. "I've never been as driven, I've never been as focused in my whole career as I am now, because I want to mix it with the best.
"If I could have my dream fight, it would be an Errol Spence rematch. I could do welterweight. For the right fight, I'll do welterweight."
Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "A lot of people are sleeping on this fight. People don't necessarily know his record. 'Mark DeLuca, who is he?'
"He is a good fighter in unbelievable condition who can punch. They fancy it. He's fit as a fiddle, this kid, carved out of stone.
"Brook looks probably the best I've ever seen him in camp. He's got a spring in his step. But, we all know, last time he didn't look great and he's been out of the ring for a year.
"Forget Khan vs Brook until we see Brook vs DeLuca. Hopefully he comes through.
"If Brook looks sensational it can set up a fight with Khan. Liam Smith also wants the fight with Brook, and that is a natural fight."
Trying to spoil the part in the Steel City is DeLuca, a former Marine nicknamed 'The Bazooka' from Massachusetts. He avenged the only loss on his 25-fight record.
The concerns about former IBF welterweight champion Brook is the wear and tear of some gruelling fights, the two bad eye injuries suffered against Gennadiy Golovkin and Spence Jr, and the recent inactivity.
But at his best he is one of Britain's classiest boxers and, if he proves that again on Saturday, major opportunities will again be at Brook's disposal.Also on Saturday's bill in Sheffield, live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm, Kid Galahad fights Claudio Marrero in a final eliminator for the IBF featherweight title, Terri Harper challenges for the WBC super-featherweight title against Eva Wahlstrom, while heavyweight Dave Allen returns too.