Kell Brook has his sights set on another world title tilt after marking his light-middleweight debut with a stunning second-round knockout of Sergey Rabchenko at the Sheffield Arena.
Brook’s career had stalled after a fruitless jump to middleweight to challenge Gennady Golovkin in September 2016 while a drop back down to welterweight last May saw him lose his IBF crown to Errol Spence Jr.
But he drew a line under those twin defeats in emphatic style by ending the challenge of the rugged Rabchenko within five minutes to send a warning to the top tier of 154lb fighters.
He said: “I’m putting the champions on notice. I’m here and I felt good, anyone getting hit with those (punches) and it’s game over.
“I’m aiming for the stars. I’m going to go out and win another world title, you’re going to see me perform like this every time.”
A showdown with long-term rival Amir Khan, who is now under the same Matchroom promotional banner as Brook, has also been mooted in recent weeks.
Brook added: “I’ve got no message for him (except to) just enjoy his training and get his wins. That’s how me and him are going to happen, we’ve both got to keep winning and it’s going to naturally come together.”
Brook feels galvanised by the move to light-middleweight, having decided to go up a division following his much-publicised struggles to make the welterweight limit.
His initial foray proved spectacular against a fighter who had lost only twice in his previous 31 professional outings and who, Brook says, gave him some tough sparring sessions in the past.
But the Belarusian was unable to hit his stride against Brook, who, backed by a buoyant crowd in his home city, wasted little time settling into his stride behind a crisp jab.
The 31-year-old landed many thudding combinations in the opening round before stepping up his attack in the second, with a bruising right uppercut followed by a right to the temple that put Rabchenko on the mat.
Rabchenko was unsteady as he attempted to rise and was counted out just before referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings after one minute and 27 seconds of the second round.
Brook said: “I felt good once I got settled, the timing came and the uppercut set everything up and we finished the fight. Obviously I’ve been out and it’s good to get the first tick back and just get settled.
“I felt strong at the heavier weight. The weight’s a big thing, imagine taking another seven pounds off me!
“I just felt a lot healthier and when you’re getting older (trying to lose weight) takes it out of your legs and body, it’s like taking weight off a stone, there’s nothing to take off me.
“You can probably get away with it in your 20s but it’s so draining (now). It’s a big difference.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
American Deontay Wilder floored Cuba’s Luis Ortiz in the 10th round on Saturday to retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight title and keep his record intact of knocking out every opponent he has faced.
Wilder knocked down Ortiz three times in the fight, finishing off the previously unbeaten challenger with a right uppercut as the referee stopped the fight with 55 seconds left in the 10th round.
The 32-year-old Wilder improved to 40-0 with 39 knockouts as he made the seventh defence of his heavyweight title.
Wilder knocked Ortiz down in the fifth and twice in the final round but Ortiz made him work for the victory. Wilder barely survived the seventh round after Ortiz surprised him with a right hook and left hand combination and followed it up with a barrage of his own.
This was the first career title fight for the stout Ortiz who weighed in at 241 pounds, almost 30 pounds heavier than the taller and leaner 6-foot-7 Wilder.
Wilder has been trying unsuccessfully to get a unification fight with two-belt titleholder Anthony Joshua.
With no date set he had to fight the dangerous counter-punching Ortiz (28-1). Together they are all part of a crop of new fighters who are trying to bring the heavyweight division back into the boxing spotlight.
George Groves is to undergo surgery on the shoulder injury suffered during his victory over Chris Eubank Jnr.
The WBA super-middleweight champion insists he can therefore be fit to fight Callum Smith in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) 12-stone final if it can be postponed until July.
The 29-year-old dislocated his left shoulder during the final round of what was a convincing victory at the Manchester Arena, casting doubt on his ability to be ready for the match-up with Smith that had been scheduled for June 2 at London’s 02 Arena.
He described the procedure as “minor” and is therefore confident of not only recovering his fitness but of their fight being delayed, instead of a replacement found so that the original date can be honoured.
“This morning I go in for a minor operation on my injured shoulder,” Groves wrote on social media. “The good news is I’ll be fit to fight in the final in July. We will be applying for a one-month extension and are hopeful of securing this.”
Partly because of his status as the world’s leading super-middleweight and his long-term relationship with WBSS promoters Sauerland, Groves is expected to be granted that extension. If he is not, alternative opponents, including Eubank Jnr and James DeGale, will be considered as replacements in the final against Smith.
Morning boxing fans. This morning I go in for a minor operation on my injured shoulder. The good news is I’ll be fit to fight in the final in July. We will be applying to the @WBSuperSeries for a one month extension and are hopeful of securing this. #TeamSaintGG
— George Groves (@StGeorgeGroves) February 26, 2018
Provided by Press Association Sport