Brook and Eubank Jr to prove superiority in defending and claiming their respective titles
Both highly-rated Brits should sail through easy bouts in Sheffield and London as they prepare for greater challenges ahead
Kell Brook takes to the ring against Kevin Bizier in Sheffield on Saturday in what should be a comfortable third consecutive defence of his IBF welterweight title.
The Special One is 35-0 after winning his world title 19 months ago, but has endured a difficult time since his landmark victory against Shawn Porter in 2014 put him among the elite in the division.
A long road to recovery after being attacked while on holiday in Tenerife combined with injury problems to scheduled opponents has meant he has been unable to take on the stellar names that would help cement his status.
In truth, Bizier (25-2) is of similar ilk to Brook’s previous two opponents in Jo Jo Dan and Frankie Gavin.
The Canadian is solid, tough and well-ranked with the IBF - which is why he finds himself in South Yorkshire this weekend - but he is not in the same league as Brook.
That is not to say that the 31-year-old from Quebec City does not have some impressive attributes.
He is pretty big for the weight with a surprisingly long reach, while his 17 knock-outs in 25 wins goes to show that he has decent - if not terrifying - power.
Yet for some reason he does not tend to exploit this size and reach advantage, preferring instead to come forward and fight on the inside – something which should play into Brook’s hands on Saturday.
The Yorkshireman is a quick and accurate puncher who will easily find holes in the defence of Bizier as he steps towards him.
Brook also boasts great power with 24 knockouts to his name and six in his last seven fights.
He does not deal in one-punch knock-outs, but the challenger will not be able to take too many shots flush – particularly given his rapid reddening complexion may encourage the referee to step in.
It may not be a perfect gauge, but whereas Brook dispatched Dan inside four rounds, Bizier has fought the same man twice and lost on both occasions.
Bizier has never been stopped before, but he has never battled a man with the class of the IBF champion meaning he will surely lose that record on Saturday – even if it when he is still bravely on his feet rather than on the canvas.
Brook beat his three previous opponents in Gavin, Dan, and Vyacheslav Senchenko in rounds 4-6, and a similar outcome for the unbeaten hometown hero - priced at 15/8 - looks likely here.
Chris Eubank Jr (21-1) looked to be on the verge of a world-title shot, but has stepped down to domestic level to try and claim a middleweight belt that he has never held.
He has made it clear that he sees the bout in London against British champion Nick Blackwell as being beneath him, but while his opponent – who is 19-3-1 – disagrees, the odds makers do not.
Eubank is an overwhelming 1/6 favourite for the fight against ‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell, who has had an interesting career to date.
He took on Martin Murray and Billy Joe Saunders slightly too early in his career and inevitably came up short.
His defeat to Max Bursak in 2013 was more disappointing, but he is unbeaten in seven since then and has held the British title for nearly a year.
Like Blackwell, Eubank Jr has also lost to Saunders, but that was a much closer defeat and remains the only one on his record.
The 25-year-old’s victories over Dmitry Chudinov and Spike O’Sullivan certainly outshine any that Blackwell has achieved, with the knock-out of John Ryder the current champion’s career highlight thus far.
As the bigger man, Eubank Jr packs much more power and looks a lot slick. In short, he appears on a different level.
There is no doubt that Blackwell will put in a game and gutsy performance, and it is even possible that he will hang on until the end.
Yet the heavy-handed Eubank Jr will almost certainly tag him and knock him down at some stage, with a victory between rounds 7-9 – priced at 7/2 – the most likely outcome for the challenger.