When Kell Brook produced a near punch perfect performance against Shawn Porter last August to win the IBF title it looked as though it was the launchpad to some huge fights, just three weeks later he lay in a hospital bed having had life saving surgery after being stabbed in an incident in Tenerife.
At the time it was unknown whether or not Brook would ever be seen in a ring again, he himself also harboured doubts, as he told Sky Sports this week, "The first thing I thought after the injury was that I'd never fight again". Thankfully after seven months of rehab and training, Brook feels like he's back to his best. "To come back and being as fit, if not fitter than the last fight against Porter, is truly remarkable. I've kept the fans waiting too long and I can't wait to perform on Saturday night."
It's been evident from all of the press conferences and interviews in the lead up to this fight that Brook is a hungry fighter who can't wait to get back in the ring and strut his stuff. The fact he gets to do it in front of his hometown fans at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield makes it all the sweeter for him.
The man looking to ruin Brook's homecoming and first title defence is Ionut Dan Ion, better known as Jo Jo Dan. The Canadian based Romanian southpaw is a good operator and is deserving of his mandatory position. He's suffered just two defeats in thirty-six fights, both on points in Turkey against Selcuk Aydin, the first of which he was unlucky not to have got the decision.
Dan is better suited to boxing on the outside, using his southpaw stance and lateral movement to keep his opponents at bay. He seems to enjoy fighting up close when he's drawn into a battle but isn't suited to that kind of fight, often leaving himself open to left hooks and straight rights. It's also worth noting that Dan has been dropped on a few occasions in his career, although he always recovers quickly, which is testament to his fitness and stamina.
Brook likes fighting southpaws and will be looking to land the straight right through the occasionally open defence of Dan. If Brook is as sharp as he was against Porter and his timing and speed haven't been dulled by his seventh month lay-off, this is a fight he should look good in winning.
It will be a hard fought contest, Dan is a very fit and capable challenger but Brook looks to be a level above him. Brook should be able to control the fight with his quick and accurate jab whilst waiting for the opportunity to land something heavier. Whilst a Brook win is expected, a stoppage victory would be impressive. If a stoppage does happen it will most likely be in the latter part of the fight following a gradual wearing down process and possibly after multiple knockdowns.
The pick of a busy undercard is Gavin McDonnell's clash with Oleksandr Yegorov for the vacant European super-bantamweight title. Yegorov is a mystery man, both in terms of no-one knowing how good he is and it being a mystery how he's got a European title shot having not fought anyone of any note.
The most entertaining of the undercard bouts looks to be Adam Etches versus Sergey Khomitsky. Khomitsky always comes to fight, carries surprising power in his right hand and can take a shot. In many ways it's the perfect fight for Etches at this stage of his career. Etches has been guilty of loading up on shots and neglecting his defence at times in his short career, a fight like this should teach him to be more patient and to work an opening rather than trying to bludgeon one.
Also appearing on the card are Frankie Gavin, Kal Yafai, Stephen Smith and Charlie Edwards.