Sheffield’s two best-loved boxers have backed Kell Brook to win his debut fight in America tonight - and then go on and conquer the world.
Former world champion Clinton Woods and European title contender Ryan Rhodes both believe Brook is the man to lead a new golden generation of city boxers.
Brook is hoping to catch global attention by knocking out Puerto Rican Luis Galarza, aged 29, on the undercard of the WBA and WBC Andre Ward v Carl Froch fight in Atlantic City before a TV audience of millions.
Woods, IBF ruler for four years, said: “There is nobody in Europe to match Kell and tonight I am sure he will prove that he is genuine world title calibre.
“He has been too big and too strong for all of his welterweight opponents. He looks massive for a welterweight and has such speed. He is tremendous to watch. Against his last opponent (Rafal Jackiewicz at Ponds Forge) he just took a tough kid apart. He found it relatively easy against the wily veteran, Lovemore N’Dou, too.”
Woods recognises that there is a debate whether Brook is anywhere near the elite status enjoyed by Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
“Pacquiao has fought a lot of people past their best. So maybe the gap between him and Kell is not that great,” he said. “ t would be a gamble for Kell to fight him, but one I’d take on his behalf. It might be a gamble for Pacquiao too!”
Woods said that the 25-year-old from Owlerton might not reach his peak for years.
“He hasn’t had any big wars, I can see him peaking at 32 or so,” he said.
“I can definitely see him being our next world champion.”
Rhodes, who lost out on his WBC world title bid in Mexico in June, agreed with Woods.
“Tonight, he will win and win well. He has got everything you need to be a world champion.
“I can see him doing well against the likes of Victor Ortiz or Andre Berto (who meet in Las Vegas in February). He could beat either of them.”
Rhodes has no doubt that Brook will cope with the pressure-cooker enviroment of Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City.“He has got the bottle and is so excited!” he said. “He will want to impress the American fight fans straight away. Who wouldn’t be nervous? But Kell will win and go on to be a world champion.”