Kell Brook impressive in ring return against Mark DeLuca, could face Liam Smith next

Anthony Cocks

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Former IBF welterweight champion Kell ‘Special K’ Brook 39-2 (27) rebooted his career with a dominant seventh-round knockout of southpaw Mark ‘Bazooka’ DeLuca 24-2 (13) at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England on Saturday night.

Returning to the ring after a 14-month layoff, Brook took a couple of rounds to shake off the rust but once his timing returned it was largely one-way traffic.

In the third frame Brook landed a series of uppercuts that busted open DeLuca’s nose before sending him to the canvas with a flurry of punches for the first time in fight.

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The punishment continued in the fourth and fifth but the American proved nothing if not tough, continuing to plough forward despite not landing much of significance.

The end came at 1:15 of round number seven when DeLuca lunged forward only to be caught by a cuffing Brook left hook that crumpled him to the canvas and left him unable to beat the count.

The 33-year-old Brook, now in his 16th year as a pro, told Sky Sports after the fight that he was much more comfortable at junior middleweight.

“My eating is back to normal, I felt like I could have went 15 rounds in there,” said Brook, who scored his third straight win at the weight. “I took my time and picked him apart and got the win the way we wanted.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said he was impressed with Brook’s performance, adding he would look to match the popular Sheffield fighter with promotional stablemate Liam Smith 29-2-1 (16) if he couldn’t secure them world title shots separately.

“This time around, he’s got the mind, the brain and the engine. I believe he can become a two-weight world champion,” he said.

“We got Kell Brook and Liam Smith both looking to become champion again. If they can get it done separately, great. If not, so be it, we can get them in the ring together in a final eliminator.”

The 31-year-old Smith, who watched the fight from ringside, said he was open to the fight.

“I would love a fight with Kell. I’d maybe like another fight first in April, but if not, I’ll be ready for Kell in June,” said Smith, who lost his WBO 154-pound belt to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2016.

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