Triumphant Kell Brook eyes showdown with Amir Khan after stunning Sheffield success

Got him: Kell Brook on the verge of victory.
Got him: Kell Brook on the verge of victory.
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Kell Brook has his sights set on another world title tilt after marking his light-middleweight debut with a stunning second-round knockout of Sergey Rabchenko at the Sheffield Arena.

Brook’s career had stalled after a fruitless jump to middleweight to challenge Gennady Golovkin in September, 2016 while a drop back down to welterweight last May saw him lose his IBF crown to Errol Spence Jr.

But he drew a line under those twin defeats in emphatic style by ending the challenge of the rugged Rabchenko within five minutes to send a warning to the top tier of 154lb fighters.

He said: “I’m putting the champions on notice. I’m here and I felt good, anyone getting hit with those (punches) and it’s game over.

“I’m aiming for the stars. I’m going to go out and win another world title, you’re going to see me perform like this every time.”

A showdown with long-term rival Amir Khan, who is now under the same Matchroom promotional banner as Brook, has also been mooted in recent weeks.

Brook added: “I’ve got no message for him except to just enjoy his training and get his wins. That’s how me and him are going to happen, we’ve both got to keep winning and it’s going to naturally come together.”

Brook feels galvanised by the move to light-middleweight, having decided to go up a division following his much-publicised struggles to make the welterweight limit.

His initial foray proved spectacular against a fighter who had lost only twice in his previous 31 professional outings and who, Brook says, gave him some tough sparring sessions in the past.

But the Belarusian was unable to hit his stride against Brook, who, backed by a buoyant crowd in his home city, wasted little time settling into his stride behind a crisp jab.

The 31-year-old landed many thudding combinations in the opening round before stepping up his attack in the second, with a bruising right uppercut followed by a right to the temple that put Rabchenko on the mat.

Rabchenko was unsteady as he attempted to rise and was counted out just before referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings after one minute and 27 seconds of the second round.

Brook said: “I felt good once I got settled, the timing came and the uppercut set everything up and we finished the fight. Obviously I’ve been out and it’s good to get the first tick back and just get settled.

“I felt strong at the heavier weight. The weight’s a big thing, imagine taking another seven pounds off me!

“I just felt a lot healthier and when you’re getting older (trying to lose weight) takes it out of your legs and body, it’s like taking weight off a stone, there’s nothing to take off me.

“You can probably get away with it in your 20s but it’s so draining (now). It’s a big difference.”

Qais Ashfaq

LEEDS boxer Qais Ashfaq has quickly set his sights on Ashley Lane’s super bantamweight Commonwealth title, believing a great amateur career will be followed by even bigger achievements as a pro’. Ashfaq bagged silver medals at both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships as an amateur, as well as a Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal and European Games bronze. The Leeds fighter who turns 25 today had ultimately hoped to have his crowning moment at the 2016 Rio Olympics but the fighter but a nightmare preparation led to an early exit in the first round. Ashfaq broke his nose two months before his date with destiny in South America and then injured his hand before his preliminary round bout with Thailand’s Chatchai Butdee. But the Leeds ace says he is now back at the peak of his powers, two weeks after his first fight and first victory since turning his attention to the professional ranks. After initially turning pro with David Haye’s Hayemaker Ringstar team last summer, Ashfaq has since moved stables and joined Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing team in the new year. Matchroom quickly handed the fighter his pro’ debut and Brett Fidoe was defeated at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester last month. The victory formed part of a memorable weekend for Ashfaq who then got engaged to his girlfriend the following day. The next boxing engagement will now present itself on April 21 with Ashfaq set to fight at Liverpool’s Echo Arena as part of the undercard for Amir Khan’s bout with Phil Lo Greco but Ashfaq already has designs on winning titles in only first year as a professional. Weighing up his achievements as an amateur against his aspirations as a pro’, Ashfaq told the YEP: “I had a great amateur career. “I got to the Olympics but with that last result at the Olympics, it was very upsetting. “But I have just got to move on, I have got to put it behind me now and show exactly how good I am and that I am the best in the pro game. “I still want to be the best. “They asked me this after the fight on TV, what are my ambitions for the pro’ game and I said it’s the same as the amateur game. “I wanted to be the best in the amateur game and I’m looking at it just the same in the pros. “The kid who has got the Commonwealth title – Ashley Lane he’s called – I’m already looking at him now and the end of this year maybe if we can and if we can get a fight with him. “But it depends on how we progress and how I do the rounds and it’s up to my coaches and management. “It depends on how fast and how quick they want to push me but I’m ready whenever they are.” Ashfaq will certainly be living life in the fast lane during 2018 with a wedding to now look forward to following his proposal in Manchester the day after his pro debut. “I was as smooth as my boxing style,” laughed Ashfaq, asked how he had proposed. “I took her to a place called Cloud 23 which is a skytop bar with a nice view. “I had a scroll with a ribbon with a nice little message on it and then she looked down and then for the first time ever I was on one knee. “I thought I had tripped at first!” Yet Ashfaq does not envisage hitting the deck in the boxing ring with the Leeds ace quite happy to discuss the possibility of taking his division’s big names and furthermore extremely confident of beating them. Ashfaq reasoned: “A Mexican kid called Rey Vargas holds the WBC belt and he is the kid that beat Gavin McDonnell. “Gavin challenged him for the title but he beat Gavin quite comfortably. “Gavin used to have all of the titles and he is on my radar and the British title is held by Tom Ward. “They are all on my radar really but I know for a fact I am more than capable of beating them all. “Gavin McDonnell is world level and I feel like I can beat him. I think I am better than them already technically, without a doubt. “But for me it’s just about getting used to the pace and the different rounds and being able to reserve energy and stuff like that rather than the three rounds when you are not in the pros, like a sprint I guess everyone calls it. “With the pro game, especially with kids like Gavin, he’s a good durable, fit all round fighter and he sets a good pace but still saves his energy. “But I’ve had my pro debut now and I will do six rounds next. “I want to get used to the higher rounds but there’s no doubt about it in my mind, I can beat all of these names.”

Hope Price.

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