Mark DeLuca is pretty much unknown in the boxing world outside of New England, where the Massachusetts native has built up a 24-1 (13 KO) record since 2007 fighting mostly on smaller shows with an occasional undercard appearance on some bigger events.
He’s unknown enough that when the 31-year-old “Bazooka” got the call to face Kell Brook on Feb. 8 in Sheffield, England, the general reaction from fight fans was, “Who?”
But the southpaw veteran will look to make his mark in that fight, and is fully aware of the opportunity he has in front of him against a 32-year-old Brook, who hasn’t fought since Dec. 2018.
“This is the pinnacle of my career at this point, fighting a former world champion,” said DeLuca. “Kell Brook fought two of boxing’s biggest bogeymen at the time in Errol Spence and Gennadiy Golovkin, he shook up their world. I have admiration and respect for Kell as a champion but in order for me to get to where he has been, I have to beat him in Sheffield.”
DeLuca doesn’t expect Brook, a natural welterweight, to be overlooking this return bout, either, and rightly believes the pressure is pretty much all on Brook (38-2, 26 KO), a name fighter returning in his hometown.
“I can’t speak for him, but I know he is at the crossroads in his career. I know he wants to get back to where he once was and in order to do that he needs to beat me. I don’t think that he has taken this fight lightly. It’s a make or break fight for both of us.
“I don’t really get into social media or read online comments, but I think he is feeling the pressure ahead of this one. All of his fans are waiting for him to come back and it’s in his hometown. He has to deal with this pressure and show up and perform, he has his hands full.”
For DeLuca, an upset win over Brook would obviously be massive, a huge statement for his career and a big step up in notoriety. It would, for all it’s worth in boxing, make him a contender at 154 pounds.
“This is my chance and this is my time,” the underdog said. “I feel great. I have been grinding on small cards in small venues to get to this point and I can showcase my skills and what I am all about in this fight. I am deceiving and people will look at me as a puncher but I can do cute things in there. Everything can change at any moment in a fight.
“This would be like winning a world title for me. Although the belt isn’t on the line the man that I am fighting means everything. Fighting someone of his caliber means everything to me. I am confident in my preparation and that is what it all comes down to, fighting the best that I can, that’s all I can do.”