Kell Brook says he’s ready to prove he’s an elite level fighter when he defends his IBF World Welterweight title against number one mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan tomorrow night at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, live on Sky Sports.
Brook is back in action following a rollercoaster ride in the last eight months, ripping the title from Shawn Porter in Los Angeles in August before a life-threatening attack on holiday in Spain just weeks later.
‘The Special One’ recovered from the attack and was told he would not only walk again but would be able to resume his career, and the Sheffield star has been on fire in the gym knowing that he’s back in the groove and at the top table of the lucrative Welterweight division.
“Every day has been a challenge but we have done it,” said Brook, who scaled 10st 5lbs 9oz at today’s weigh-in. “It’s amazing for me to defend the World title in Sheffield, with Michael Buffer announcing me into the ring, I will be stood there knowing that I was meant to do this and I belong at the elite level.
“I’ve come along way, fighting on undercards and in leisure centres to packing out this Arena as a World champion. It took me a long time to get that belt and there is no way on earth that Jo Jo Dan is taking it off me, not a prayer. I am going in there to excite, you’ll see flash and power. I’ve kept the fans waiting too long to fight again and I owe them a big performance. If Jo Jo does what he says he’s going to do and bring the fight to me well, the fans are in for a treat because you know how I fight.
“He looks like a man that has come to win. He’s the mandatory like I was against Porter and I took the title off him. It’s every fighter’s dream to challenge for a World title and to take it, so I know that he’s put in 100 per cent in the gym and he will leave it all in the ring tomorrow night.
“I would never overlook Jo Jo. It’s happened too many times in boxing that fighters are thinking about another fight and they lose the one in front of them. I am focused on him and I am making sure I take care of business. He’ll bring his best and I will bring my best, and I’ll show everyone why I am special, and I am looking to knock him out.
“Nothing can be done about these super fights unless I do the business on Saturday night. There’s going to be power, speed, accuracy and World-class boxing from me.
“I hope Jo Jo Dan takes some nice memories back to Canada of Sheffield because that’s all he’s taking back with him.”
The challenger tipped the scales at 10st 6lbs 4oz and the Romanian-Canadian is confident he can upset the odds and take the title back to Montreal.
“I feel great and I am in the best shape of my life,” said Dan. “I cannot wait for tomorrow. The weigh-in is the first opponent to get past and now it’s time for the big one.
“I know what Kell’s strengths and weaknesses are and I’ll show that in the ring. He was impressive against Porter but I am ready to adjust to whatever he can bring and I am ready for 12 hard rounds.
“Who doesn’t want to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao for millions of dollars? Everybody. That’s the reality, the money is amazing. But I am concentrating on Kell Brook. I will get booed, he will get cheered – I don’t care about that, I’m so confident of winning that title.”
Brook and Dan top a huge night of action in Sheffield as local favourite Adam Etches defends his IBF International Middleweight title against Sergey Khomitsky and Gavin McDonnell continues his fairy tale story challenging Ukrainian Oleksandr Yegorov for the vacant European Super Bantamweight title.
Frankie Gavin makes his Sky Sports return as he prepares for his crunch clash with Chris van Heerden on May 9 in Birmingham. Stephen Smith and Kal Yafai continue their marches towards a World title and GB Podium squad member Charlie Edwards fights for the second time in the paid ranks on the bill.
Limited tickets are on sale priced £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 available from the Motorpoint Arena on 0114 2565656 and at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk. VIP tickets at £250 are exclusively available from Matchroom Boxing at www.matchroomboxing.com.
When Jo Jo Dan (34-2, 18KO’s) steps into the ring this Saturday against defending IBF welterweight champion and hometown hero Kell Brook (33-0, 22KO’s), Dan will be entering into hostile confines. The 10-thousand-seat Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, will be sold out. Other than a small Dan entourage of roughly 10 of his closest friends and family members, all in attendance will be screaming for the local star Brook. While this might make your ordinary boxer uncomfortable to say the least, Dan is not just your ordinary fighter.
“You can call me the Road Warrior I guess,” said Dan. “This is nothing new to me. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other. If you think about it, all the pressure is now on Brook to perform. I am fully aware that he has the home advantage with the fans behind him, but I plan to make them my fans with my performance. Inside the ring, it is just us and the referee. When they cheer for him, it pushes me to do better. I had a nine-week training camp for this fight, by far my best one ever. I am well prepared. On March 28th, I will be 100% ready for this challenge.”
The 33-year-old Romanian has been living and training in Montreal since 2002, two years prior to making his professional debut. Dan officially made his debut on April 21, 2004, scoring a second-round TKO over Jeff Hill. Over the next six years, Dan continued to rack up win after win, running his record to a perfect 26-0, before earning a shot to challenge for the vacant WBC Silver welterweight title against fellow undefeated contender Selcuk Aydin. Aydin was a feared puncher, having scored 15 stoppages in 19 victories, even earning the nickname “Mini Tyson” along the way. To earn the title, Dan was not only going to have to withstand the hard-charging, heavy-handed Aydin, but he was going to have to do so in his opponent’s backyard of Turkey.
After 12 rounds, Dan looked as though he had done everything he needed to do to earn the victory, as he dominated the Turkish-native in every aspect of the bout. BoxingScene.com scored the bout 117-111, with one judge having it a bit closer in Dan’s favor at 116-111. Unfortunately, the other two judges scored the bout for Aydin with scores of 114-113, giving the hometown favorite the split decision victory, in what was called one of the worst decisions in all of 2010.
Not to be deterred, Dan was quickly back in the ring, picking up three consecutive victories, and setting up another shot at Aydin; once again, in Aydin’s home country of Turkey. Despite badly breaking his jaw in the second round, Dan battled bravely the rest of the way to hear the final bell. However, after 12 hard rounds, Dan would drop another close decision to Aydin.
“After I lost the first fight, it took them a year to call for a rematch. I decided to go back because I was sure of beating him again in his hometown. Unfortunately, I got caught with a good shot in the second round and my whole fight plan went out the window. I had to go to war with him because I knew the doctor or my corner would stop the fight if they knew of my broken jaw. I refused to let m y corner take out my mouthpiece from the second round on, because I knew if they took it out, I wouldn’t be able to get it back in, and the fight would be stopped. I almost stopped him in the 11th round, but I went down for a count while off balance and they gave him that round 10-8 instead of me winning it 10-9. At the end, two judges gave him the fight by one point; the third judge was way off. Had I won the 11th round, instead of the slip being counted as a knockdown, then I would have won a split decision even with that broken jaw. It was the hardest thing that I have ever had to deal with in my life. I was pushing my jawbone with my tongue all fight long just so I could breathe. After the fight, the doctor couldn’t believe how badly my jaw had been broken, or that I was able to fight on for nearly the entire bout. I had to have two major surgeries to repair it and take a year off from boxing, but thank God I was able to make a full recovery.”
Following the second loss and ensuing layoff from the surgeries, Dan signed with powerful US promoter Lou DiBella, of DiBella Entertainment, and picked up two quick victories, setting up an IBF welterweight title eliminator for the number two ranking. His opponent was the highly regarded fast-rising welterweight contender Kevin Bizier, with the fight staged in Bizier’s backyard of Quebec. In what was named Canada’s 2013 ‘Fight of the Year’, Dan won a 12-round split decision in an absolute war.
Almost a year to the date from their first matchup, Dan and Bizier would meet again, at the same venue, this time with the winner earning the right to challenge the champion Brook. Aired on Showtime, Dan turned in yet another spectacular performance, and once again walked away with a 12-round split decision victory over the hometown hero Bizier, earning his shot against Brook this Saturday night.
“Brook is a very good fighter, it is not a mistake that he has become a world champion. I expect him to come out early and try to add me to his knockout list. I won’t be running though. We will find out very early if he can take as well as he can give,” stated Dan.
When asked if he believes that he needs a knockout to win based on past experiences, Dan answered calmly and with full confidence, “No.”
“I don’t train for knockouts. If the knockout comes, then it’s a bonus. I train to win every round. This fight is going to be watched around the world by millions of people. I have full confidence that it will be judged properly and the fighter who deserves the victory will be announced the winner. I am more experienced and better prepared than the previous times I challenged for the world title. I worked very hard to earn this mandatory position and I will not let this opportunity pass me by. On March 28th, I will become the IBF welterweight champion of the world.”
A win on Saturday will cap an amazing couple of weeks for Dan. This past week, Dan received his Canadian Citizenship and his wife is expected to give birth to their first baby daughter any day now.
To follow Jo Jo Dan on Twitter or Instagram, visit @JoJoDan1. You can also find him on Facebook at facebook.com/boxerJoJoDan.
SHOWTIME Sports® will present the Sky Sports telecast of the IBF Welterweight World Championship between defending champion and hometown favorite Kell Brook and No. 1 challenger Jo Jo Dan on Saturday, March 28, live on SHOWTIME at 6:15 p.m. ET/3:15 p.m. PT from the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England.
Later that evening, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), WBC Featherweight Champion Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs), of Mexico City, will defend his 126-pound belt against quick-fisted southpaw Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. In the co-feature, from The Pearl at Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas, undefeated world-ranked contender Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs), of Houston, faces experienced 2004 U.S. Olympian Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., in a 10-round super welterweight showdown.
SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL Brook vs. Dan will replay immediately following the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast.
Brook’s upcoming title defense, promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, will be a raucous homecoming for the popular Brit, who last fought in Sheffield in October 2013. Billed as “Unbreakable” in the U.K., the event is also Brook’s comeback fight after getting attacked while on vacation last September.”
“March 28 will be an emotional night for Kell and the team. I remember being by his bedside in September in a Spanish hospital after that horrific knife attack, it looked like his career was over, Aid Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Sports. “He has shown incredible physical and mental strength and looks better than ever in camp. Fans on Showtime will get to see in my opinion the best 147 pounder in the World light up a 10,000 sell out arena on March 28—don’t miss it!”
Brook (33-0, 22 KOs) of Sheffield, England, will be making his first start and initial defense of the 147-pound title he took from previously undefeated Shawn Porter via a 12-round majority decision last Aug. 16 in Carson, Calif., on SHOWTIME. In an impressive performance in his long-awaited shot at a world championship, Brook, 28, won clearly on two of the scorecards (117-111, 116-112) while the third judge had it even (114-114).
“After everything that’s happened over the last six months, it feels incredible knowing I will be defending my World title in Sheffield,” said Brook. “I’m not looking past JoJo I know he will bring the heat but I want to get this mandatory defence done and then target those mega-fights that are out there in the division. I know he feels he worked so hard to get into the mandatory position just like I did, but I will be working twice as hard to keep the belt that I earned. After May 2nd, there will only be two champions in the division—myself and Floyd or Manny. I want to unify this division in style. I’m coming for them all.”
Dan (34-2, 18 KOs), of Quebec, Canada, has won five in a row and eight of his last nine. The 33-year-old earned the crack at the crown with a 12-round split decision over Kevin Bizier in an elimination bout last Dec. 19 on SHOWTIME. Dan also won a split decision over the then-unbeaten Bizier on Nov. 30, 2013.
A native of Romania, the crowd-pleasing Dan, whose full name is Ionut Dan Ion, has lived and trained in Montreal since his pro debut in April 2004. The only blemishes on the southpaw’s record are a pair of close, controversial decision losses to then-undefeated contender Selcuk Aydin –the first in 2010 and the second in 2011– both in Aydin’s native Turkey.
“Kell has not fought anyone like me,” Dan said. “I believe in myself and I don’t think he can bring anything I can’t deal with on fight night. I saw his last fight where he won the world title and it was a great performance, but I just let my team study him in depth and come up with a winning strategy.
“I have waited a long time to get a world title shot so I am determined to take advantage of this opportunity. My prediction for the fight is simple –Jo Jo Dan becomes the new IBF Welterweight World champion.”
International and World Boxing Halls of Fame ring MC Michael Buffer is returning to Sheffield to bring Kell Brook and Jo Jo Dan to the ring as they clash for Brook’s IBF World Welterweight title in ‘Unbreakable’ presented by FX World live on Sky Sports on March 28.
Buffer has worked in the Steel City twice for modern-day legends Prince Naseem Hamed and Ricky Hatton, and he’ll be the man to call defending champion Brook into the packed Motorpoint Arena to face-off against his number one mandatory challenger Dan.
“When Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport reached out to me a few weeks ago to announce the Kell Brook vs Jo Jo Dan Ion Welterweight World title fight, I jumped at the chance,” said Buffer. “Luckily it fell on only the second weekend of the year that I’m free to work but more importantly it’s a chance to return to a great venue in a hard core, fight fan city with another ring superstar on the rise in Brook.
“Brook is top-tier World champion who beat undefeated Shawn Porter last year in California and brought another championship belt to England’s steel city. He went the distance to hammer out a tough majority decision that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he should be considered among the elite of the welterweight division. It’s going to be a pleasure to sit at ringside after the introductions watch him work. It won’t be an easy night as his opponent, Jo Jo Dan Ion, isn’t going to travel to Sheffield to roll over – this guy is a clever, legitimate challenger with 34 wins. I have been in attendance with him in the ring in Montreal against Kevin Bizier and he can bring it, believe me.
“I imagine the boxing world must consider and even demand that a Kell Brook victory should put him in position for a match up with the winner of the upcoming Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight or with the fighting pride of Bolton, Amir Khan, in a mega fight. A lot is riding on this fight in Sheffield.
“This will be my third trip to Sheffield and I know the fans are insane with energy! My last trip to the UK Steel City I saw the great Ricky Hatton’s unification victory against Carlos Maussa back in 2005. The arena was then Hallam FM Arena and the place was jumping but my first trip there, when the name was Sheffield Arena was in 1997 and I thought the roof would come off when the one and only Prince Naseem Hamed successfully defended his featherweight title against Jose Badillo. Just the entrance was deafening as Naz made his way to the ring and his trademark flip over the top rope, the crowd set decibel records with noise. I have a feeling the standing room only crowd – 10,000 plus strong – at the Motorpoint will be rocking once again when Kell Brook comes down the aisle to the ring. Sheffield has a proven record of supporting its fighting heroes. Saturday night, March 28 will be electric! I can’t wait!” Brook’s clash with Dan is part of a huge night of boxing in Sheffield as local favourite Adam Etches defends his IBF International Middleweight title against Sergey Khomitsky and Gavin McDonnell continues his fairy tale story challenging Ukrainian Oleksander Yegorov for the vacant European Super Bantamweight title.
Frankie Gavin makes his Sky Sports return as he prepares for his crunch clash with Chris van Heerden on May 9 in Birmingham and former World Bantamweight king Anselmo Moreno makes his UK debut against Wales’ Robbie Turley. Kal Yafai continues his march towards a World title and GB Podium squad member Charlie Edwards fights for the second time in the paid ranks on the bill.
Limited tickets for ‘Unbreakable’ presented by FX World are on sale priced £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 available from the Motorpoint Arena on 0114 2565656 and at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk. VIP tickets at £250 are exclusively available from Matchroom Boxing at www.matchroomboxing.com.