Mark DeLuca says his clash with former IBF Welterweight World Champion Kell Brook at the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield on Saturday February 8 is “make or break” as he looks to cause an upset in the toughest fight of his career, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
DeLuca (24-1, 13 KOs), a durable and hard-hitting southpaw hailing from Massachusetts, avenged his sole career loss to Walter Wright in an immediate rematch in October 2018, unanimously outpointing the Seattle man over ten rounds to earn the NABA Super-Welterweight Title.
‘The Bazooka’ added two more wins to his record in 2019, outclassing Jimmy Williams in Boston and then Brandon Brewer at the Dunkin Donuts Centre in Providence, and has been much more active than Brook in recent times, having fought 12 times since 2016.
“This is the pinnacle of my career at this point, fighting a former World Champion,” said DeLuca. “Kell Brook fought two of boxing’s biggest boogeymen at the time in Errol Spence and Gennadiy Golovkin, he shook up their world. I have admiration and respect for Kell as a champion but in order for me to get to where he has been, I have to beat him in Sheffield.
“I can’t speak for him, but I know he is at the crossroads in his career. I know he wants to get back to where he once was and in order to do that he needs to beat me. I don’t think that he has taken this fight lightly as it’s a make or break fight for both of us.”
Brook hasn’t fought since decisioning Australia’s Michael Zerafa back in December 2018 and is determined to prove that he still belongs at the top of the sport after teaming up with trainer Dominic Ingle once again. A loss for Brook would be disastrous at this stage of his career and DeLuca insists all of the pressure will be on the Sheffield fighter.
“I don’t really get into social media or read online comments, but I think he is feeling the pressure ahead of this one. All of his fans are waiting for him to come back and it’s in his hometown. He has to deal with this pressure and show up and perform, he has his hands full!
“This is my chance and this is my time. I feel great. I have been grinding on small cards in small venues to get to this point and I can showcase my skills and what I am all about in this fight. I am deceiving and people will look at me as a puncher but I can do cute things in there. Everything can change at any moment in a fight.
“This would be like winning a World Title for me. Although the belt isn’t on the line the man that I am fighting means everything. Fighting someone of his calibre means everything to me. I am confident in my preparation and that is what it all comes down to, fighting the best that I can, that’s all I can do.”
John Docherty faces Stanislav Eschner on Brook vs. DeLuca undercard on Feb.8
Rising Super-Middleweight talent John Docherty says he would love to headline a JD NXTGEN show in his native Scotland as he gears up for a ‘breakout’ 2020, starting with a six round contest against the Czech Republic’s Stanislav Eschner on the undercard of Kell Brook vs. Mark DeLuca at the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield next Saturday.
The former Team GB member, now training under Tony Sims alongside Scottish fight legend Ricky Burns in Essex, made an explosive start to life in the professional ranks, demolishing his first five opponents inside the distance to earn a reputation as one of the hardest-hitting 168llbs prospects in the UK.
That KO streak came to an end when ‘The Doc’ went the distance for the first time in his career against experienced journeyman Darryl Sharp at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool followed by another points win against Lewis van Poetsch at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.
Despite banking some much-needed rounds in his learning fights against Sharp and Poetsch, the Montrose man is eager to get back on the KO train as he continues to work towards his first professional title opportunity in 2020.
“I had a rest over Christmas but not much as I knew I had this fight just after new year and this is a fight that I am really looking forward to putting on a show,” said Docherty. “I had an active 2019 but I’m used to fighting a lot because of my amateur background. I was performing and getting KO’s meaning I was consistently on the shows. It is just important for me to keep winning and looking good at this stage.
“I learnt so much from my last two fights against experienced journeymen in Sharp and Poetsch. They’re both slippery customers and know every trick in the book, so it was all good learning experience which is what I need at this stage of my career. Saying that, there’s still no better feeling than getting a big KO and the fans will be seeing more of that in 2020.”
Proud Scotsman Docherty has only boxed in his homeland once since turning over in October 2018, blitzing Wilmer Gonzalez in one round at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, and the Commonwealth games bronze medallist hopes the recent signing of slick Bantamweight contender Kash Farooq might persuade promoter Eddie Hearn to venture north of the border again.
“I would love to headline a NXTGEN show, especially in Scotland! I have this fight and then an eight rounder shortly after. If the title fight comes it comes and I am ready to take that opportunity. I want the step-up to come, I am ready for it. There is a lot of good Scottish fighters at the moment so fighting back up there is something I want to do, with the likes of Ricky Burns and Kash Farooq it’s definitely possible.
“2020 is a big breakout year for me, it’s a massive year. I want to get a big fight this year and show everybody what I am all about. I have got the rounds banked in my last two fights but now I want to get back on that KO streak, hopefully starting in Sheffield. Anyone who wants it, they can get it. Simple as that. I’ll come to your back yard!”
Docherty vs. Eschner is part of a huge night of action in Sheffield.
Kid Galahad (26-1, 15 KOs) takes on Claudio Marrero (24-3, 17 KOs) in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Featherweight crown, Terri Harper (9-0, 5 KOs) clashes with Finland’s Eva Wahlstrom (23-1-2, 3 KOs) in a unification for the WBC and IBO Super-Featherweight World Titles, Anthony Tomlinson (11-0, 6 KOs) takes on Stewart Burt (13-1-1, 1 KO) in a Eliminator for the British and Commonwealth Welterweight titles, Dave Allen (17-5-2, 14 KOs) makes his long-awaited return after eight months out of the ring, Brentwood Super-Featherweight Martin Joseph Ward (23-1-2, 11 KOs) returns, Super-Middleweight John Docherty (7-0, 5 KO) continues his march towards a first title, Leeds Featherweight Hopey Price (2-0, 1 KO) looks to go 3-0 and Sheffield Light-Heavyweight Callum Beardow (1-0) fights for the second time as a pro.