Matchroom Boxing have announced a card for Feb. 8 in Sheffield, England, headlined by the return of former welterweight titleholder Kell Brook in his hometown, plus a featherweight eliminator between Kid Galahad and Claudio Marrero, and Eva Wahlstrom defending her WBC junior lightweight title against Terri Harper, with heavyweight Dave Allen also set to return.
The show will air on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.
Brook (38-2, 26 KO) wound up sitting out of all of 2019, failing to find a fight that interested him. But time is money and at 32, Brook’s prime years are winding to a close if they haven’t already.
“Special K” will face unheralded American Mark “Bazooka” DeLuca in a junior middleweight bout, but Brook isn’t counting out a return to 147, either, if the fight is right.
“I’ve had a year out, there has been some dark times but what I’ve realized is I love this sport and I know I have some of my biggest years left in the game,” Brook said. “DeLuca is a strong, gutsy fighter who is always ready for war but I’m planning on putting on a statement and showing the world that I’m still a force at 154 or 147 pounds.”
DeLuca (24-1, 13 KO) is ranked No. 59 in the world by BoxRec at 154. He’s a 5’9” southpaw from Massachusetts who has won three straight on the local circuit there, following a 2018 split decision loss to Walter Wright. He avenged that defeat four months later, starting his current win streak.
Galahad (26-1, 15 KO) is coming off a split decision loss to IBF featherweight titleholder Josh Warrington in June, and will step right back into an eliminator hoping to secure a second opportunity to win the same belt.
“Every opponent at this level has to be respected and that’s what I’ll do,” said the 29-year-old Galahad. “He’s a game kid in a life changing fight, similar to me. So it will be a tough night but I’ll prepare fully.”
Galahad added, “I’ve had many people believe I won the first fight with Warrington but what’s written in the record books is what counts. I’ll focus fully on Marrero now and then if and when we get through that, I’ll look to right the wrongs of the first fight. Let’s hope Josh sticks around to take the rematch as many of his own fans and neutrals came out saying he didn’t do enough to have his arm raised the first night.”
Marrero, 30 and coming over from the Dominican Republic, went 1-1 in 2019. He lost to Tugstsogt Nyambayar in January, giving the Mongolian a tougher test than anyone else has thus far, and beat Eduardo Ramirez in June. In a featherweight division that has recently lost Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez, and Carl Frampton in moves up to 130, Galahad-Marrero is a genuinely significant fight.
The world title fight on the bill will see Finland’s Wahlstrom (23-1-2, 3 KO) defend her strap against 23-year-old Denaby native Harper (9-0, 5 KO), who has the more lightly regarded IBO belt, which will also be at stake, for what it’s worth.
Harper had a strong 2019, going 4-0 on the year and wrapping it with a very solid win over veteran Viviane Obenauf on Nov. 2 in Manchester.
“I know that there’s boxers out there who would give anything for this opportunity that I’ve been given, so we’re leaving no stone left unturned,” Harper said. “Being local and having the home crowd behind me on the night, the atmosphere is going to be electric. I know this is going to push me on to win the belt not only for me but for every single supporter.”
The 39-year-old Wahlstrom is 1-1-1 in her last three and has shown signs of slowing down. She moved to 135 about a year ago and lost a shutout to titleholder Katie Taylor, then came back in August and went to a wildly scored draw with Ronica Jeffrey in a fight that aired on UFC Fight Pass from Las Vegas. She fought at home in November in a non-title bout, shutting out Consolata Musanga over eight rounds.
And then there’s heavyweight favorite Allen (17-5-2, 14 KO), who seemed within striking distance of a serious fight before a July 20 loss to David Price, where Allen was dominated and stopped after 10 rounds, three months after a big knockout win over Lucas Browne.
Allen, 27, had seemingly considered hanging up the gloves after the loss to Price, but he has a clear goal in mind for 2020.
“It’s an honour to be boxing alongside some of my friends and to see Kell Brook return to action,” Allen said. “I’m coming back to win the British title and that’s my aim for 2020, this is the start of that journey.”
Allen does not yet have an opponent named for the Feb. 8 show.