Two of England’s top fighters, cruiserweight Tony Bellew and welterweight Kell Brook, both face important fights on Saturday at Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Bellew, moving up in weight from light heavyweight, is seeking to get back on track after getting bombed out in a one-sided sixth-round knockout loss challenging light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson on Nov. 30.
Bellew (20-2-1, 12 KOs) will face Russia’s Valery Brudov (41-4, 28 KOs), a former interim titlist with vast experience, in the main event. Bellew needs a victory in order to establish himself in a new division and also to reignite his career after such a nasty defeat.
“I am coming into an exciting division with established world champions, and I am hoping to make my mark in this division,” Bellew said. “My two goals in boxing are to earn a living for me and my kids, and to become a world champion. I will go in with Valery Brudov, who has had 45 fights and 41 wins, 28 by knockout -- he has had more knockouts than I have had fights. He has a good record, he is a good fighter, and this is a dangerous fight, make no mistake. But if I am going to be anything in the cruiserweight division I have to beat this guy and look good beating him.
“It is a test, and it should let me and everybody else know where I am in the cruiserweight division. This is a new chapter, a new beginning for me. It is up to me to pick up the pieces, work hard, and get to where I was at light heavyweight as a cruiserweight. I have always thought about fighting at cruiserweight, but I had always had the attitude that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I have to earn my shot now, the way I did at light heavyweight. I have to show I am a top cruiserweight and an A-level fighter. I believe I am, but there is no point me saying that, it is better for me to get in there and prove that.”
While Bellew is trying to rebound, Brook is trying to stay the course knowing that he is one win away from a world title opportunity. He is already the mandatory challenger for titleholder Shawn Porter but both have interim bouts before they are expected to fight later this year, assuming they both win.
Brook (31-0, 21 KOs) will look to stay sharp in what is supposed to be a stay-busy fight with Alvaro Robles (17-2, 15 KOs) of Mexico. There’s always a danger though that something could go drastically wrong, even if Brook is the heavy favorite.
“This is his world title fight so he is going to be game,” Brook said. “He will be very, very tough, and he will want to take my head off. I am looking forward to the opportunity to get in there and show what I do, and that is knock people out. It is a very important fight. It is a banana-skin fight, and it is important because if I don’t win this there is no big one to follow.
“At the beginning of my training for this fight I thought it might be hard to get motivated, but that hasn’t been the case. I have been very motivated for the fight and I think it is your instinct as an athlete, as a fighter, to beat your gym-mates in the gym and on runs, and get your personal best out of everything. I have found the willpower and determination, and I will put on a great display on Saturday night.”