Kell Brook will begin his move to light-middleweight by fighting Sergey Rabchenko at Sheffield Arena on March 3.
The 31-year-old in May lost his IBF welterweight title to America’s Errol Spence and, after his long-term struggle to make the 147lb weight limit, will fight the Belarussian who ended the career of former stablemate Ryan Rhodes.
His step up to 154lbs provides a further barrier to making the fight he has long wanted with Amir Khan, who is expected to return at welterweight, but gives him the chance to be a two-weight world champion.
“The Spence defeat cut deep and it took me some time to come to terms with it but now I’m back with a new challenge at 154lbs,” said Brook.
“I will be stronger and better than ever in the division and my focus now is on becoming a two-weight world champion.
“Rabchenko is a dangerous fight for the return, but I want to jump straight back in at world level and our styles will gel for an electric fight. I’m already deep in camp and I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere again in my home town on March 3.”
Brook's professional record currently stands at 38 fights, 36 wins, and two losses, but those two losses have come in his last two fights, meaning he wasn't won since March 26, 2016.
Rabchenko, also 31, said: “I’m really looking forward to this fight with Kell Brook and it’s going to be a war. I have fond memories of Sheffield and I believe the result will be the same (as against Rhodes). This is a high-profile fight in the division that has always been mine, and the winner will go on and challenge for the world title. It’s a must win fight for both of us.”
As for Rabchenko, his record is 29 fights, 27 wins, and two losses, but he also lost his last fight, which was back in July 2016 against Tony Harrison.
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