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Kell Brook plans to stop Jo Jo Dan, targets welterweight stars

24
Mar
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

 

From dream, to nightmare, to dream has been the often grisly rollercoaster ride that IBF welterweight titleholder Kell Brook has been firmly strapped into in recent months.

The unbeaten boxer puncher from Sheffield, England, won the title from Shawn Porter, via majority decision, last August in Carson, California, but was given little time to enjoy the moment he had dreamed of since childhood.

Two weeks later, Brook was stabbed in the leg during an unprovoked attack in Tenerife but, despite initial fears that his career was in jeopardy, he is now brimming with confidence ahead of a homecoming title defense against mandatory challenger Ionut Dan Ion this Saturday.



“I’m feeling sharp and I’ve trained hard,” Brook (33-0, 22 knockouts) told RingTV.com. “I’m always competitive in the gym and what I went through last year hasn’t changed what comes naturally to me. I’m focused and the leg injury has not been an issue, physically or mentally.

“It’s just great to be back in the gym and now I can push on with my career.”

Dan (34-2, 18 KOs), nicknamed “Jo Jo”, is a 33-year-old left hander from Romania who lives in Quebec, Canada. Although his record is lacking in terms of distinguished opposition, his two tough wins over the previously unbeaten Kevin Bizier catapulted him to title contention.

“Jo Jo Dan is a tough customer and he’s in the same position I was in (against Porter),” said Brook, who is rated No. 2 by THE RING at 147 pounds. “Not many fighters get a chance to challenge for a world title, so he will have left no stone unturned in training and I can’t afford to overlook him.

“He is an experienced, durable southpaw who knows how to win and his record shows that.”

Despite Brook’s obvious respect, the odds makers have made the challenger a prohibitive 7/1 underdog, coming into his first world title bout, and “Special K” fully expects to defend his title impressively.

He said, “I’ve got a sharp eye and I punch hard with both hands. I’ll find a way to hit him flush on the chin and I’m looking to get him out of there before the final bell. Everything is in my favor, and I want to put on a good show and enjoy the occasion.

“It’ll be a great night for the fans and I’m going to use their energy to shine in this fight.”

If Brook lives up to expectations then he is blessed with a myriad of potential big name opponents in 2015. On May 2, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will finally settle a six-year squabble with fists and the winner will hold every recognized 147 pound title, with the exception of the IBF strap held by Brook.

Neither Mayweather of Pacquiao has “officially” unified a division, so could the Englishman be in pole position to land a mega fight?

“Absolutely!” purred Brook.

“There are a lot of belts in boxing but after May 2 there will only be two men in the division who can call themselves a world champion. It would be very exciting for the fans to get a true unification match and find out who the daddy is at welterweight.

“Mayweather versus Pacquiao is a great fight, although I think Floyd wins it comfortably now. It would have been interesting a few years ago but Mayweather is smarter and sharper at this stage. He’ll be more accurate and control the pace, which will probably lead to a points win.

Brook continued, “Me and Mayweather in a battle of unbeaten champions would be number one on my wish list. He’s the self-proclaimed best ever and I would relish the chance to claim the reputation and status he carries. I would also be very confident going into that fight.”

It was impossible to speak to Brook without discussing countryman Amir Khan. The former junior welterweight titleholder is coming off two impressive wins over Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander but, despite the colossal scale of a domestic showdown with Brook, has only voiced interest in bouts with Mayweather, Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and Adrien Broner.

“I’m losing the desire to fight Khan,” said Brook, his tone changing perceptibly. “He mentions all these guys but two of them are facing each other now and I’m the only other fighter in the welterweight division who holds a recognized world title belt.

“Khan is going to get very well paid so, if he can dismantle me easily, why not collect the money and grab a world title? He would also have a great bargaining chip to get the winner of Mayweather and Pacquiao. I just don’t understand where he’s coming from.

“The bottom line is that I’m a big, powerful welterweight and he likes to pick on smaller, weaker opponents.”

If Khan does become “can’t” then British promoter Eddie Hearn has name dropped two other former champions as potential options for Brook: Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, who recently emerged victorious from a trilogy bout with Mike Alvarado, or Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez.

“Either of those fights would be great for me, particularly Marquez because of the legacy he has,” said Brook, who plans to fight at Bramall Lane (Sheffield United Soccer Stadium) in late June, or early July.

“The whole of Britain would be excited if I fought Marquez, but Rios is another attractive match-up because he gives his all in every fight. Anyway, one of them could be next providing I take care of Jo Jo Dan in style.”

So, just how much style can the visitor expect to see when he climbs the ring steps this Saturday night in Sheffield?

“As I said, I’m looking to win this fight by stoppage,” said Brook emphatically. “I’ll be back to my very best, you can count on it.”

Brook-Dan will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 1HD from 7:30pm in the UK, and on Showtime at 6:15pm ET/3:15pm PT in the US.

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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