By Peter Wells: It’s taken 8 years for the Sheffield prospect to get to the edge of a world title fight. Tommorow night Kell Brook fights in a final eliminator for the IBF Welterweight title. Brook has gone as far as stating that he will retire if he loses to Hector Saldivia at the Motorpoint arena in his hometown of Sheffield. This is likely a comment to build up his fight and over dramatise how important this bout is for his career. For some fighters chances at a world title don’t come terribly often so Brook wants to make sure he doesn’t miss his chance to book a shot at the IBF title.
Brook may have waited a while for his shot at a world title, but Saldivia has had just as long to wait. Final eliminators also haven’t gone well for the Argentinian in the past. On the 1st May 2010 he faced off against Said Ouali in an eliminator for the WBA Welterweight title. Saldivia came out strong scoring an early knockdown, but got too caught up in the moment and went down twice before the referee stepped in to end the fight. Said never got his WBA title shot, instead looking at the IBF route, before losing in 7 rounds last year to Carson Jones.
So this is Saldivia’s second eliminator for a world title, and a defeat would probably mean it’s his last. Carson Jones who stopped Said Ouali last year gave Brook a hell of a fight earlier this year, coming very close to shattering Brook’s title ambitions. Brook hung on in the second half of the fight after suffering a broken nose, and in some rounds gave as much as he took.
Kell Brook can feel more confident coming into this fight after proving his chin and heart against a ferocious puncher. The fact that both defeats that Saldivia has suffered have come by way of stoppage, indicating his defence isn’t something to be desired. While Saldivia is taking a step up in competition to face Brook, the same can’t be said for Brook. Saldivia doesn’t pose as much of a threat as Carson Jones did but should offer Brook a decent challenge. The pick is for Brook to box and move early on, before showing his improved conditioning later in the fight as he starts to put the pressure on Saldivia. Brook can force a late stoppage to set up a shot at the IBF title.
Who Brook or Saldivia will be fighting will be unknown until later the same night when Devon Alexander challenges champion Randall Bailey for the IBF Welterweight title.