The former US Marine Corps machine-gunner is determined to seize his opportunity against the veteran, former world champion
Mark DeLuca is known as “The Bazooka”, partly due to his booming left and right hands, but also to his time as a machine-gunner in Afghanistan with the United States Marine Corps.
It is that experience which the 31-year-old believes will help him against Kell Brook, the returning former world champion, in Sheffield on Saturday night.
“I haven’t lived a long life but it has been wide, I’d call it, and it is a great experience being here, and this will add to my resume,” DeLuca said. “The boxing life and the military life complement each other and it wasn’t hard to bounce between both, they are both warrior lifestyles, and they are about life and death.
“The main reason I joined the Marines was to do my part for the United States. But being around boxing at a young age, I was so used to the discipline and the work ethic and that definitely helped me get through the military. But I’d say that even being home from Afghanistan, though, the threat of all that is still very real.”
DeLuca, the son of a former boxer, comes into the contest for the vacant World Boxing Organisation intercontinental super welterweight title, having lost just once in 25 contests, against Brook’s two world title defeats to Errol Spence and Gennady Golovkin in a 16-year, 40-fight career.
“I’m no spring chicken, I’m 32 next week and I’m taking all my life experiences into the ring with me and I’ll take boxing as far as my body and my mind can handle it. But I’m seeing this as a great opportunity and an honour to show my skills against a great champion like Brook. He has had a great career and has been a world champion; he still has a lot to prove and wants to get back to where he was, but this is my opportunity.”
DeLuca has been promoted by Ken Casey of the cult, punk band the Dropkick Murphys. Murphys Boxing is on the banner of this fight promotion alongside Eddie Hearn’s ever-growing Matchroom Boxing outfit. Brook, returning from a 14-month lay-off, has claimed that he will get “the snooker against the bazooka” but, while the Yorkshireman almost needs a powerful, and decisive display against the Italian-American, DeLuca has a chance to project himself on to the world scene, in spite of never having been in against such an elite opponent.
On the undercard, Brook’s stablemate Kid Galahad faces the Dominican Republic’s Claudio Marrero in an International Boxing Federation featherweight world title final eliminator. Terri Harper has a big chance to elevate her standing when she faces the vastly experienced Eva Wahlstrom, of Finland, in a World Boxing Council title fight at super-featherweight. Harper is unbeaten in nine contests, with five knockouts. Wahlstrom has lost just once – to Irish sensation Katie Taylor – in a 26-fight run over 10 years. The 39-year-old started boxing as an amateur the year before 23-year-old Harper was born.