Kell Brook makes his PPV debut on Saturday night when he faces Frankie Gavin at the O2 Arena, London. Whilst the fight itself isn't PPV worthy, the card as a whole probably is, with three world title fights, three good domestic scraps and Anthony Joshua providing fans with a packed bill.
Brook v Gavin has been mentioned as a possible match-up for the past two or three years, since around the time Gavin was winning the British title and Brook was beating the likes of Matthew Hatton. The feeling at the time was that both would be allowed to advance their separate ways towards world level before meeting in a major match-up. Alas, rather than the fight building into a must-see event, the recent performances of Gavin have made the match-up look potentially one-sided and is being viewed by most as more of a keep busy bout for Brook than a serious test.
Can Gavin pull off a shock though? Well, no, most likely not, I'd say there's less than 5% chance of it happening. That's a depressing thought for those who felt Gavin was nailed on to win a world title during his career, and I include myself as one of those people.
It's not that Gavin's career has been a failure; he's won the British title outright and also lifted the Commonwealth belt, which are fine achievements, but there's a feeling that Gavin hasn't fulfilled anywhere near his considerable potential. He was a top class amateur - the first ever amateur world champion from Britain and a Commonwealth gold medallist. That talent hasn't adapted wholly to the paid ranks though. Despite all the technical gifts he's got his career has always seemed to struggle along rather than flow, mainly due to weight issues, stamina problems and a seemingly lackadaisical attitude.
It's been noticeable in his past few outings how sluggish Gavin has looked, the once sharp hand-speed and footwork seem to have deserted him. He's arguably lost two of his last four fights, officially he's lost one against Leonard Bundu but can count himself lucky to have gotten the decision against Bradley Skeete. The fight against Skeete was the worst of Gavin's career, he looked slow, easy to hit, devoid of ideas and exhausted in the final four rounds. If he puts in a similar performance on Saturday the fight will be over inside six rounds.
Whilst Gavin's career has come off the rails recently, Brook's has gone from strength to strength. He had a much easier time against Carson Jones in their rematch and destroyed Vyacheslav Senchenko before securing the world tile against Shawn Porter, his speed, movement and timing clearly surprising the American.
Having made a successful return to the ring against Jo Jo Dan following his much publicised stabbing incident, he looks to be having another routine defence before moving onto the bigger names of the division, at least that's what he and Eddie Hearn have been hinting at anyway.
Gavin will have to be in the best shape of his life and produce the performance of his life if he's to pull off the shock win. He hasn't got the punch power to hurt Brook so he'll have to be on the top of his game for twelve rounds, which is something he hasn't done since he fought Young Mutley four years ago. I expect Gavin to box off the back foot and try to counter Brook, keeping the fight at distance and tying him up on the inside whenever they get close.
Brook has certainly got big advantages when it comes to punch power, strength and stamina. On recent performances you'd say he has the advantage in speed and footwork as well. Brook himself would rather be the counter-puncher but he's most likely to be on the front foot in this bout. It may take him a few rounds to get to Gavin but one feels he will eventually start to land cleanly, and when that happens, it's going to become a long, hard, horrible night for Gavin.
Gavin's proven his toughness before, especially when getting off the canvas against Bundu following a rib crunching bodyshot. He's going to have to show the same kind of resoluteness if Brook starts landing cleanly on Saturday. The trouble for Gavin is that Brook hits a lot harder than Bundu does, he carries power in both hands and has shown to be a good finisher whenever he's found an opponent easy to catch cleanly.
This won't be the best fight on the bill but it will be entertaining enough and Gavin will put up more resistance than Dan Ion did. That said, I'm having a hard time seeing Gavin lasting the distance, with Brook favourite to stop a tiring Gavin in the mid to late rounds.