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Brook vs Rabchenko: Fight preview and matchup

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Kell Brook returns to action against Sergey Rabchenko this Saturday.

Kell Brook

Boxing at Bramall Lane Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Record: 36-2 (25 KO) ... Streak: L2 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’9” / 69” ... Age: 31

Thoughts: Kell Brook is a very good fighter. Kell Brook is also a 31-year-old fighter coming off of not just back-to-back defeats, but back-to-back physically devastating defeats, each one leaving him with eye injuries, each loss coming by stoppage.

Brook deserves credit for having the sand to face Gennady Golovkin back in 2016, even if you don’t give Golovkin a ton for fighting a welterweight. Brook got a somewhat wacky offer, took it, and did his best. Golovkin didn’t wipe the mat with him, he overpowered him. It was understandable. GGG is bigger. Brook is not a middleweight.

Errol Spence Jr gave Brook his second straight defeat last May. There’s a lot to consider there. First off, Brook was coming off of a very hard loss, mentally and physically. Second, Spence looks like he is going to be a special pro fighter, more elite than just really good. But again, Brook wasn’t just wiped out. He gave Spence a fight, until he couldn’t give any more.

I don’t know what the future holds for Kell Brook long term, but I’m skeptical. The injuries, the punishment, it adds up fast in a boxing career. And whether or not Brook is really “back” mentally remains to be seen. He’s also moving up to 154 pounds for this fight, and we’ll have to see how he adjusts to that. There are bigger men in this weight class, and while Kell seems like he has the frame to pull off the move, at least in the short term, there are a lot of “ifs” and x-factors at play right now to make any real bold statements about his future.

Sergey Rabchenko

WBC Silver Light Middleweight Title: Sergey Rabchenko v Anthony Mundine Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Record: 29-2 (22 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’10” / N/A ... Age: 32

Thoughts: Once upon a time, Sergey Rabchenko looked like a potential contender. He doesn’t anymore, but he did at one point. Now, he’s been signed up to be Kell Brook’s comeback opponent.

I’ve said it (and will say it again), and promoter Eddie Hearn is selling the same story: Rabchenko isn’t a pushover, he’s got power, he comes to fight, etc. But as ballsy as Brook has proven to be, it’s unlikely his managerial and promotional teams would be signing him up for this fight if they didn’t think it was all but a sure thing that Brook would win. So Rabchenko is absolutely here to lose, even if nobody has informed him of that.

Rabchenko’s first loss came back in 2014, when he went to Australia and was on the wrong end of a controversial split decision against Anthony Mundine. His second loss, in 2016 against fringe contender Tony Harrison, was more decisive. He was dropped and stopped in nine rounds.

Harrison is talented if erratic, and he fights nothing like Kell Brook, really, so I’m not totally writing Rabchenko off. He’s a little bigger than Brook, just naturally, and he’s used to this weight, having competed here his entire pro career. He is good enough that he’s a useful first step back for Brook. It’s a fight Brook should win, but not a guarantee, because of the aforementioned gluttony of “ifs” on the Brook side.

Matchup Grade: C. It’s a comeback fight, meant to get Brook some confidence back. That doesn’t mean they picked a total patsy — Rabchenko isn’t a bad fighter, and he’s got a style that will expose any mental fragility if there is some to expose.