Kell Brook looked in fine shape on Wednesday ahead of his return from a 15-month absence from the ring. Brook will fight Mark DeLuca in Sheffield on Feb 8 with the stark opinion being that the former world No 1 and IBF welterweight champion will retire from the sport if he cannot beat his American opponent.
“If I lose to DeLuca, absolutely it will be my last fight and I will walk away and retire,” explained the 33-year-old at a workout at 12×3 Gym in London. “If I can’t beat DeLuca, how can I say I want to fight the elite of the sport, rematch Errol Spence or fight Terence Crawford? There’s no point and I don’t have the right to call for world titles. No – I have to win.”
Brook’s last fight in 2018 saw the Sheffield fighter outpoint Michael Zerafa in an underwhelming performance, after which he stayed away from the ring and the gym, having craved a fight with arch British rival Amir Khan for three years – a contest which never materialised.
Brook was expected to fight on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz heavyweight world title fight at Madison Square Garden, New York, on June 1 last year, but then withdrew unexpectedly.
“I’m so happy to be back. I can’t wait to put on a performance for my city on February 8,” said Brook. “I’ve had a year out. There have been some dark times. But what I’ve realised is that I love this sport. I know I have some of my biggest years left in the game.
“My opponent DeLuca is a strong, gutsy fighter who is always ready for war. But I’m planning on putting on a statement to show the world that I’m still a force at 154 or 147lbs.”
Brook will campaign at 154lbs – light middleweight – against DeLuca and is open to fighting for a world title at both weights, having reunited with trainer Dominic Ingle, son of the late, legendary boxing svengali Brendan Ingle.
“Kell’s appetite for the sport has returned, and there has been a hunger and sacrifice about his attitude in camp,” Ingle told The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. “There is no doubt he has world titles left in him, and his time away told him that he had more to gain from the sport. I’m delighted with his application because Kell at his best is one of the world’s elite fighters.”