Preview: Tony Bellew, Kell Brook and Kevin Mitchell fight at Echo Arena

Sports Mole previews Matchroom Sport's show at Liverpool's Echo Arena, which is headlined by Tony Bellew's cruiserweight debut against Valery Brudov.

After beginning 2014 with several entertaining shows, Matchroom Sport attempt to continue their momentum by hosting an event on Merseyside as several of their star names look to earn a world title opportunity in the summer.

The card is headlined by Tony Bellew's debut in the cruiserweight division against Russia's Valery Brudov, with a win for the Liverpudlian moving him closer to a potential crack at the WBC title later in the year.

Kell Brook has been guaranteed an opportunity to compete for the IBF welterweight belt if he can overcome Mexican Alvaro Robles, while Kevin Mitchell will move in line for a shot at the IBF lightweight strap if he can get past Mikheil Avakyan.

The card has been hit by several injuries, but home favourite Rocky Fielding will be hoping to extend his unbeaten record to 18 fights when he faces Charles Adamu for the Commonwealth super-middleweight title.

Below, Sports Mole previews the high-profile bouts, while taking a look at the main encounters on a packed undercard.


Tony Bellew in action during his WBC Silver Light Heavyweight match against Isaac Chilemba on March 30, 2013
1. Bellew vs. Brudov

Tony Bellew has endured a mixed 12 months that has seen him involved in two struggles against Isaac Chilemba before being stopped inside six rounds by WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

However, perhaps the most significant step to come out of 2013 was Bellew's realisation that his body was struggling to deal with the demands of 175lbs, leaving the 31-year-old to make the step up to cruiserweight to compete at his natural weight.

It's a move tinged with risk and Bellew has been spared a warm-up bout in the division with Valery Brudov a credible opponent, but a win could see Bellew move towards an eliminator for the WBC belt in just his second bout.

He will have to be focused against an opponent who has lost just four times in 45 matches, but providing he can adapt to the higher weight class, Bellew should have too much nous to avoid defeat against a man who was stopped by Brit Ola Afolabi inside five rounds in 2012.


Kell Brook in action in his International Welterweight match against Carson Jones on July 13, 2013
2. Brook vs. Robles

Kell Brook's dominant win over Vyacheslav Senchenko in October earned him the mandatory position to compete for the IBF title, but after Shawn Porter caused a surprise in beating Devon Alexander in December, it resulted in Brook having to wait for his shot at world glory.

The Sheffield boxer remains on the brink of facing Porter, but he must first overcome the challenge of Mexican champion Alvaro Robles, who has 15 stoppage victories from 19 fights.

Brook is justifiably the heavy favourite going into the 10-round bout in Liverpool, but the encounter isn't without danger, and the Brit will need to be motivated to avoid a potential banana skin against the hard-hitting South American.

The prize of a world title fight with Porter or Paulie Malignaggi awaits the 27-year-old, but he can't afford to be distracted by the possibility of lucrative fights in the future.


British boxer Kevin Mitchell in action against Ricky Burns on September 22, 2012
3. Mitchell vs. Avakyan

Kevin Mitchell's previous two showings on the world stage have seen him freeze on the big occasion, with quick defeats to Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns major blemishes on his record.

However, the Londoner was a reformed character throughout 2013, with three confident wins moving him up the IBF rankings and to the brink of a showdown with belt holder Miguel Vasquez.

Promoter Eddie Hearn is currently attempting to make that fight for the undercard of the Wembley showdown between Carl Froch and George Groves, but Mitchell needs to impress against Georgian combatant Mikheil Avakyan before he can secure a tough test against Vasquez.

Mitchell should have no problems in overcoming someone who has lost 11 times in 36 fights, but it will be the manner of his success that will be the key as he looks to send a message to future opponents.

Undercard

The undercard at the Echo Arena has been decimated by injuries, with super-middleweight Paul Smith forced off the bill with an infected elbow, while his brother Callum was withdrawn from the event at the start of the month.

Their absence allows Rocky Fielding to take the limelight in his Commonwealth showdown with Charles Adamu, with the 26-year-old hoping that an 18th professional success will take him towards a shot at the European title.

Light-welterweight prospect Robbie Davies Jnr will be looking for his fifth professional win when he squares off against Mark McKray, while Erick Ochieng will be aware that he needs to revive his career with a win against the unbeaten Neil L Perkins.