Kell Brook puts junior middleweight division on notice after KO

Former welterweight world titleholder Kell Brook believes he put the junior middleweight division on notice with an explosive performance on Saturday.

Fighting in his hometown of Sheffield, England, Brook (37-2, 26 KOs) moved up to 154 pounds and knocked out Sergey Rabchenko (29-3, 22 KOs) in the second round at the Sheffield Arena. Brook hurt Rabchenko, of Belarus, with a right uppercut and then knocked him down with a right hand to the temple. He couldn't beat the count and referee Steve Gray stopped the fight at 1 minute, 27 seconds.

The win was a long time coming for Brook, 31, who was coming off two rough losses. He suffered broken orbital bones on each side of his face in knockouts to Gennady Golovkin in 2016 and Errol Spence last May. Brook, who challenged Golovkin for the middleweight belt, lost his welterweight title in the Spence fight.

"The desire is there and you could see in my performance that I'm back and I'm putting the guys at the top level on notice," Brook said. "I expected a tough night's work and 12 hard rounds, and I was ready to do that. But once I got my range with the timing working, it was game over.

"You don't get paid for overtime. Rounds in the bank would be nice, but I know I could've gone on all night as I felt great in there. The longer the fight would have gone on the better I would have looked too. I was getting into my groove and my mojo is back. I was living next to the gym for the fight, away from my family, so I was training, eating and resting -- nothing else."

Rabchenko's only previous losses were by split decision to former world titleholder Anthony Mundine in 2012 in Mundine's home country of Australia and a ninth-round knockout to Tony Harrison in 2016 in New York.

Now Brook is looking ahead to another possible world title fight at junior middleweight.

"I'd fight anyone. I've got nothing to prove in that respect as I've boxed GGG, Errol Spence Jr. and won my IBF title in America [from Shawn Porter in 2014]," Brook said. "I'd like another test at 154 pounds to settle into the weight and get another great performance, and then any belt out there, I want it.

"It's my goal to become a two-weight world champion and I know I can do it. I'm accurate and I can land on anyone's chin. There's levels in boxing but if I hit them world champions with those shots, I will find their chins."

Brook said he's taking a short vacation to Miami but plans to go to the gym to stay in shape while he's there.

"I'll be straight back into the gym, no time off," he said. "I've got a little trip to Miami booked in but I'll train when I'm there too. I have to stay in the gym and be ready."

Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who has a close relationship with Brook, was happy to see him back in top form.

"He's one of the first fighters I signed and the GGG and Spence losses, plus the injuries, have been hard for everyone, and Saturday night was a massive moment for the career of Kell Brook," Hearn said. "If he'd lost the fight it was all over. If he didn't look good it was probably all over. If he'd been injured it was probably all over. The way he dispatched Rabchenko with the sharpness and the combinations, it was great. There was a brilliant energy in the arena and that was all generated because Kell Brook brings excitement every time he boxes.

"I've always believed that Kell Brook is one of the biggest talents in world boxing, but I've also always believed he was boxing at the wrong weight. Kell always thought he could do 147 pounds and in this day and age of social media, he was almost goaded into getting back to 147 pounds to defend his title against Spence after fighting GGG at 160 pounds, [with] people saying he was ducking Spence if he vacated. And he wouldn't do that. Take nothing from Errol Spence, but I believe Kell beats him at 154."

World titleholder Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs), of Houston, is scheduled to defend his title on June 9 (Showtime) on undercard of the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares featherweight title rematch at Staples Center in Los Angeles, but he is without an opponent. He said on social media that he would be interested in fighting Brook.

It would seem unlikely that it would take place June 9, as Brook said he'd like one more fight in the weight class before going for a major fight, not to mention that a Charlo-Brook fight is certainly big enough to headline a major card rather than serve as an undercard fight.

Hearn said he'd love to make Charlo-Brook later in the year.

"There's some world-class fighters at 154 pounds," Hearn said. "The champions are all elite and there's some brilliant other fighters in the top five, but Kell can beat them all and be the man. Brook is a bigger name than Charlo but he's the champion, so make us an offer. Rabchenko is a world-class fighter but he's not elite level. Kell proved he's an elite-level fighter and we need another step-up in June or July and then we're ready for the big stuff in the winter."