Kell Brook is heading into what amounts to a world title semi-final with Hector Saldivia on Saturday, warning the Argentinian his new-look physique spells nothing but danger.
The Sheffield puncher gave fight fans a glimpse of his dramatically-changed torso at a public workout last week, showcasing the body he hopes will take him to an IBF world welterweight bout early next year.
That will be on the cards provided he can dispose of Saldivia at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena in this weekend’s eliminator and according to Brook and his camp, that is a matter of course.
Brook, trainer Dominic Ingle and promoter Eddie Hearn acknowledge Saldivia is a battle-hardened opponent - he has knocked out more people than Brook has faced to date - but the trio also believe Brook’s ripped frame can take care of him.
In the wake of a harder-than-expected win over Carson Jones in July, Brook and his team decided corners could no longer be cut, with a new, punishing training regime implemented ahead of Saturday.
“If Hector has gone off my last performance, well that wasn’t me. Things have been addressed and I’m a different animal. I am in the best shape I have been in, and I have been fighting for 17 years,” said Brook, known in the game as ‘the Special One’.
“I’m eating well, drinking plenty and I have never been better. I am taking plenty of recovery time and I have had a brilliant 12-week training camp. I am pushing myself more than ever before.
“I want this more than ever and I have got the eye of the tiger. I have left no stone unturned and this Saturday you’re going to see the best of Kell Brook - one that’s good enough to take care of Hector Saldivia.”
Ingle has overseen the changes in his father Brendan’s famous Wincobank gym - the one which used to play home to Naseem Hamed - and such is his confidence in his fighter he has told him to retire if he fails to get the job done.
“If he had have trained like this for Carson Jones, he would have won in four rounds. His attitude to training is different, every aspect from nutrition, training, hydration and sleep. If he doesn’t win on Saturday he might as well hang his gloves up because he can do no more,” he said.
As the money man, Hearn will be delighted to see ticket sales at the Motorpoint heading upwards towards 10,000, but more so, will be comforted by his new look.
The Matchroom promoter watched anxiously as his fighter was pushed to the limits by Jones and, having recently spoken about a future match-up with Amir Khan, can ill afford a loss at the weekend.
“I saw the pain and the exhaustion he had and after that Jones fight I went to his house, sat down with him and his dad and analysed what needed to be changed. But we needed to know if Kell wanted to change and the answer was ‘yes, yes, yes’. We needed to see it.
“We’ve seen him embrace the new changes and the diet and he now realises the animal he can be. In a fight I don’t think you’ve seen more than 60% of what he can do yet.”