Devon Alexander has announced rising British star, and mandatory challenger, Kell Brook as his next opponent. The two men are ranked number 5 and 6 respectively in the ProBoxing-Fans.com top 10 for the welterweight division. The fight will take place on January 19th, as Alexander (25-1, 13 KOs) seeks to defend his IBF welterweight title which he picked up last time out, in a one-sided affair against Randall Bailey.
Alexander the Great, still just 25, will look to continue his winning streak at welterweight. Since moving up to the 147lb limit he has looked much more comfortable, recording a victory against big-hitting contender Marcos Maidana to accompany his IBF title victory.
Brook is widely unknown in the states and Kevin Cunningham, Alexander's trainer, has seemingly written off the threat he could pose. “Devon should be fighting someone with a bigger name than Kell Brook, but since he's the mandatory, we'll defend the title against the mandatory. But I don't see anything special about Kell Brook,” he said.
Alexander echoed his coach's sentiments, claiming until recently “I didn't know who he was." Having since watched him on YouTube, he came to the damning conclusion that Brook is “a basic fighter, nothing special about him.”
These comments though will surely not deter the undefeated Brook (29-0, 19 KOs). The Sheffield man will be hoping to offer a sterner test than southpaw Alexander's previous two opponents, and ultimately snatch the IBF strap. In doing so, Brook, 26, may well become the new poster boy of British boxing, capitalizing on the retirement of Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan's recent poor showing inside the ring.
The step up in class might be too much though, and Brook will need to produce his finest performance to date against his first truly world class opponent. Against Carson Jones, his toughest assignment so far, Brook struggled and gassed late on, ultimately laboring to a majority decision.
Undoubtedly, the self proclaimed “Special One” will have his work cut out to bring a world title back to England. However, there are reasons for optimism following his much improved performance the last time he fought. Brook recorded an emphatic 3rd round stoppage against Hector Saldivia, whom joins Matthew Hatton and Lovemore N'dou on his resume.
Eddie Hearn, Brook's promoter, believes Brook could cause an upset. “To become great and make a statement, there is no better way than travel to a champion's country and rip the belt from him. Kell has the opportunity to make a huge statement in the 147-pound division,” he said.
Victory for either fighter could set up mega-money bouts later in 2013. Alexander could get his chance of showdown with either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, while Brook could set up a mouthwatering prospect the other side of the Atlantic, with a battle of Britain against former two time world champion Amir Khan.