IBF world welterweight champion Kell Brook will put his belt on the line against Kevin Bizier at the Sheffield Arena on Saturday 26 March.
Where to watch
Brook vs Bizier will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 HD, with coverage scheduled to get underway at 19.30 GMT. The ring walk for the main event is expected to occur between 22.00 and 22.30. The full undercard, meanwhile, will start 10 minutes after doors open at 17.00.
Put simply, this was not the explosive third title defence that Brook had so evidently craved. Ever since the unbeaten 29-year-old claimed the IBF crown with an upset of Shawn Porter in California, he has been targeting a lucrative all-British affair with Amir Khan. A horrific attack while holidaying in Tenerife that left "Special K" with stab wounds appeared to put his career and indeed his life in jeopardy, but he returned just six months later to call out his domestic welterweight rival once again after a dominant victory over Jo Jo Dan in front of an adoring hometown crowd.
Having been initially denied due to Khan's existing negotiations to fight Chris Algieri, however, Brook eased past Frankie Gavin before later being accused of unrealistic intentions due to his apparent attempts to seek a 50/50 purse split. Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn hit back by suggesting that the 2004 Olympic silver medalist was deliberately pricing himself out of a potential bout, although that argument appears questionable given that Khan is now set to take on the biggest challenge of his career by stepping up to middleweight to battle popular WBC champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas.
Khan's frequent jibes about the questionable quality of Brook's opponents have probably not been undermined by his meeting with Bizier, a powerful orthodox fighter from Canada whose only two career defeats to date were both suffered at the hands of Dan. His status as the number one contender was secured in Miami last November, when he inflicted a broken jaw on Fredrick Lawson before forcing the Ghanaian's corner to throw in the towel.
While not the most glamorous of fights for Brook, to reject it would have been to put his reign as champion in considerable peril. The IBF's distaste for title-holders neglecting mandated challengers was perfectly showcased by their decision to strip Tyson Fury of the heavyweight belt due to him choosing to pursue a contracted rematch with Wladimir Klitschko instead of facing Vyacheslav "Czar" Glazkov.
What they've said (via Sky Sports)
Kell Brook: "I'm desperate for an old-fashioned war. I know Bizier is a strong come-forward fighter and I'm looking to excite everybody with an old-fashioned war. It's nearly been a year since I was back in the Sheffield Arena. I can't wait to get weighed in, get some 'scran' in me and get ready for fight night.
"Camp has gone unbelievably well. We missed out on celebrating birthdays and Christmas but my mind has been on the job in hand. We've done everything right. Saturday night it's about breaking Bizier's heart and then it's about breaking his bones. Saturday night. Here we go. I'm the IBF champion and I need to go out there and show everybody why I'm champion."
Kevin Bizier: "I'm going to give 100% on March 26. I will give everything in the ring for this fight. I don't want to regret anything, I don't want to leave that ring knowing I didn't give it all when fighting for a world title.To win rounds and spoil Brook's party, I'll have to apply constant pressure to him and get in his face. I've worked a lot on my inside work as I cannot stay at the end of his jab.
"Brook is a big hitter who manages distance well, I'll have to get into the pocket. Boxing inside will give me a better chance to win. I know the fans are going to scream for him, but I will block that out. If Brook gets carried away by the emotion of the crowd, it could play into my hands – I intend to give value for money."
Brook: 35 fights, 35 wins (24 via knockout)
- (W) Frankie Gavin – technical knockout – May 2015
- (W) Jo Jo Dan – retirement – March 2015
- (W) Shawn Porter – majority decision – August 2014
Bizier: 27 fights, 25 wins (17 via knockout)
- (W) Fredrick Lawson – retirement – November 2015
- (W) Fouad El Massoudi – majority decision – April 2015
- (L) Jo Jo Dan – split decision – December 2014
Bizier is not without his threats, but it is difficult to see anything other than a comfortable win for the defending champion and you would expect Brook to produce a stoppage during the second half of the fight. If he is not quite on his game, then he may have to rely on a straightforward decision.
Odds (via Betfair)
- Kell Brook - 1/50
- Kevin Bizier - 12/1
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