The 33-year-old from Romania has won 34 of his 36 professional fights and is the mandatory challenger for the unbeaten Brook, who won the belt by beating Shawn Porter via a majority decision in California last August.
In the wake of that victory, Brook was the victim of an horrific knife attack in Tenerife but has recovered in double-quick time and is ready to defend his crown at the Motorpoint Arena in his hometown of Sheffield.
Having weighed in at 10st 5lbs 9oz -??half a pound lighter than his opponent – the 28-year-old told Sky Sports News HQ: “It’s fantastic to be back here in my own city and seeing all the fans. It’s real now. You see me all serious up there and I’m smiling now. I’m ready to go.
“I’ve got to hold it together and stay professional. I’m meant to do this and I think I’ll handle it well. I perform better under pressure and I’m excited to see how the whole event goes off.
“He’s been to other guys’ back yards and one and he’s mandatory for a reason. He’s smiling because he believes he can pull it off and I’ve got my hands full on Saturday night but I’ve done the training.
“I feel hungry. It took me a long time to get that world title. Not many people do that. Nobody’s taking it away. It was too hard to get so nobody’s taking it away.
“I’m looking to make a statement. I’m going out all over the world. There’s going to be excitement – it’s going to be epic.
“When I was laid in hospital with my leg tied up it felt like I??was at the bottom of my ocean and I remember when it first happened my whole??life flashed before my eyes.
“I thought, ‘this is game over for me now’, but I remember getting to the??hospital and being wheeled out and feeling the fresh air and seeing the birds??flying about and thinking ‘I’m here, I’m alive’.
“I think when you’ve been that close to death it definitely changes you.”