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27 March 2016, 10:24
Kell Brook retained his IBF welterweight title with a clinical second-round stoppage of the overmatched Kevin Bizier at the Sheffield Arena.
The unbeaten Brook (36-0, 25 KO wins) produced a statement performance in his home city, albeit against a clearly inferior opponent, in his first bout in 10 months as he made a successful third defence of his world title.
The Canadian challenger was bloodied after a vicious opening assault from the champion, who knocked his opponent down twice in the next round to bring an early halt to proceedings to the joy of the partisan crowd.
Brook is now expected to turn his focus towards securing a summer showdown against one of the premier fighters of the 147lb division.
While refusing to overlook Bizier, Brook made no secret of his desire to step up a level in the build-up, with fellow world champions Danny Garcia, Jessie Vargas and Keith Thurman mooted as his next opponent as well as the winner of the money-spinning showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley in two weeks' time.
He was last in action in May 2015 when he stopped Frankie Gavin in six rounds, although an October contest against rugged Argentinian Diego Chaves was cancelled after Brook sustained a rib injury.
His hand was forced by the IBF mandating the clash against Bizier, whose only previous two defeats came in split decision reverses to Jo Jo Dan, a fighter Brook defeated in four rounds 12 months ago.
Brook was therefore an overwhelming favourite to extend his unbeaten run in the professional ranks and so it proved, even inside the opening minute.
Despite the lengthy lay-off, Brook showed no signs of ring rust as he found his range with the jab almost immediately while a big right hand wobbled Bizier midway through the opening round.
Bizier cut his eye in the onslaught and Brook could not miss with a series of sickening blows.
Another bruising right hand shook Bizier and he was down on the canvas after Brook followed up with a flurry.
While the brave 31-year-old managed to beat the count, he was back on the floor a matter of moments later, leading to the stoppage with 45 seconds left in the round.
On the undercard, 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell also had an early night as he got back to winning ways with a sensational second-round stoppage of Gary Sykes to capture the vacant Commonwealth lightweight crown.
Campbell (13-1, 11KO) suffered his first defeat in the paid ranks against France's Yvan Mendy in December but reignited his career in spectacular fashion.
After a cagey opening round, the 28-year-old's overhand left rocked his fellow Yorkshireman, who sank to the canvas after taking another solid shot.
While he was able to beat the count, Campbell forced his opponent onto the ropes before unleashing a furious barrage, forcing the referee to intervene with two seconds remaining in the second round.
Brook admitted his disappointment at being out of the ring for nearly a year but took satisfaction from his dismantling of Bizier.
He said: "I was frustrated and I knew that I was going to come and break bones.
" I knew as soon as I landed, or I got excited, that the fight would be over, so I'm not shocked at all with the result in two rounds.
"It's been a long time, I've missed a lot of things. I just wanted to get in there - I did want to go more rounds - but it's been a long time.
"I got flowing, I caught him with a nice shot and he couldn't continue. Maybe that spitefulness is there.''
As for his next assignment, Brook added: "Anyone who weighs 147lbs or even 154 (the light-middleweight limit). I'll fight any fighter out there.''