Our boxing expert, Peter Morris, has two tips for the bout between Kell Brook and Mark DeLuca.
This Saturday Sheffield’s Kell Brook takes on American ex-marine Mark DeLuca in his latest comeback fight. Brook’s troubles in the last year or so have been well documented; he’s struggled with his mindset, weight and motivation since back to back defeats to P4P superstars Gennady Golovkin & Errol Spence and he hasn’t really looked the same fighter since those losses. Kell Brook is now fighting up at light middleweight and it feels like he’s still finding his feet in the division, having a bit of a mixed time of it up at 154lbs. He dealt with Sergey Rabchenko comfortably within 2 rounds, but his last outing was a much tougher night’s work, with Brook labouring to a 12 round unanimous decision against an unheralded opponent in Michael Zerafa. That fight was well over a year ago now and Brook’s form and inactivity provides much to mull over for boxing punters.
Brook still starts this fight as odds-on favourite (his best price is 1/16) whilst Mark DeLuca is as long as 10/1. DeLuca has currently attracted more bets on oddschecker at that price and with question marks over Brook’s form, it’s easy to see why: he is a solid fighter who’s never been stopped, he’s only dropped one decision loss, which he then avenged in the rematch and he’s a tough character who is game to fight. Furthermore, he’s the naturally bigger man, with a size and reach advantage. However, he’s never fought at this level and ability wise he should lack the speed and power to really hurt Brook. In fact, DeLuca appears to have a distinct lack of stopping power, with only 13 of his 24 victories coming by KO or TKO (a KO percentage of 54% against modest opposition). The last time DeLuca stopped someone was in an 8 round contest against Ramses Agaton in March 2018 (Agaton’s record currently stands at 22-11-3 and has been stopped 6 times). All the evidence suggests DeLuca shouldn’t have the tools to cause Brook too many problems and Brook on his day would have far too much for the American. The number of bets on DeLuca is likely down to Brook’s inactivity and disappointing last performance, the question at the crux of the decision making is this: what type of Kell Brook shows up?
Even if Brook comes in looking like he’s back somewhere near his best, DeLuca won’t be a push over. The American has never been stopped and is big and strong at the weight. It would be a surprise if Brook blasted him out inside a couple of rounds and, regardless of which Kell Brook we get, the fight going into the later rounds looks good considering DeLuca’s size and durability. At 6/5 with SportingBet, over 7.5 total rounds looks like a decent bet. Brook was hunting the KO early in his last fight against Zerafa, but with Dominic Ingle back in his corner Brook should box to a more sensible game plan and come out on top. Backing him to do so later in the fight is where the value lies: 2/1 to stop DeLuca in rounds 7-12 or 5/2 to win a decision are both appealing bets. The extra value in the 5/2 on a decision is where my money goes.