By Rory Hickey: On February 19th, 2022, we will finally get Amir Khan (34-5, 21 KOs) and Kell Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) facing off in Manchester, England. The fight between Brook and Khan has been a long time in the making; in 2016, the two nearly agreed to face off against each other before negotiations broke off.
The two men have exchanged taunts and insults through the media for years. Both men are from England: Khan is from Bolton, and Brook is from Sheffield. The two cities are just less than an hour away from each other. Kell Brook vs. Amir Khan is a fight that boxing fans, and particularly English fans, have been eagerly waiting for for quite some time.
Ben Shalom, the founder of BOXXER and one of the organizers of this fight, revealed the difficulty of making the fight. “I think we’ve just seen why this fight never happened. The past five months have been exhausting with both teams to try and get this over the line. Now it’s done, it’s a dream come true. We’ve got two icons of the sport and the two best welterweights in this country by a long way. I think people forget that.”
“It’s a huge, huge thing for the British sport, and it’s a huge thing for the fans. They’ve won world titles. They’ve done everything. But this fight just meant too much to both fighters. This is more than world titles – this is legacy.”
In 2016, Kell Brook vs. Amir Khan seemed like a huge fight just waiting to happen; however, the two did not face off six years ago. The prevailing wisdom is that Khan was hoping for a potential matchup with Floyd Mayweather Jr., with visions of dollar signs in his head. Once the Mayweather fight came off the table, Khan took a different big money fight, moving up two weight classes to challenge Canelo Alvarez. Predictably, Khan had some success in evading Canelo until the sixth round, when Khan got knocked out spectacularly. Not to be outdone, Kell Brook went up in weight to challenge Gennady Golovkin and had similar results to his English counterpart.
Presently, Khan and Brook are both in their mid-thirties and have been established names in boxing for quite some time. Khan is a former unified light-welterweight champion, and Brook was the IBF welterweight champion, making three successful title defenses. Kell Brook’s three career losses came at the fists of Golovkin, Errol Spence, and Terrence Crawford. Khan fell to Crawford in his last fight, with his other defeats coming to Canelo, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, and Breidis Prescott. Brook and Khan are high-quality fighters with disdain towards one another as well.
It is rare nowadays for two fighters with genuine, deep-seated animosity to face off. Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook has been fantasized about and wished on for years– and Kell Brook has heard the chatter saying, “I’m sick of people coming up to me -asking me when I’m going to fight him. February is when he hits the deck for the final time. He’s never given me respect, acknowledged me. He’s always ran away and it’s come to this part of our career when there’s nowhere else for him to run. It’s been frustrating for me, I’ve wanted this for many years.”
For his part, Khan did not pull any punches either, saying, “Genuinely, there’s bad blood there. Genuinely we don’t like each other and I think [Brook]’s very disrespectful. I think it’s more just the jealousy he’s had all the time, he’s a very jealous person and what I’ve done in my career, he just (envious) of that and it’s one of them things you want to punch him in the face, and that’s what I’m gonna do come Saturday night come February 19.”
Khan feels like he has been better than Brook for quite some time, even before both turned professional. “I used to school [Brook] in Olympic training camp, the trainers used to say ‘just go in and use one hand against him today!’”.
As for the fight itself, no one has any illusions that Khan vs. Brook will be Hagler vs. Hearns (other than perhaps Brook and Khan themselves). But as we enter year three of the global pandemic, we need this fight. The prospect of Kell Brook fighting Amir Khan had not crossed my mind in a while. But with both men coming off of long layoffs and seeing the end of their career tunnels, this bout will finally, mercifully, take place.
Brook has not fought since being knocked out by Terrence Crawford in November of 2020. In July of 2019, Khan knocked out Billy Dib in four rounds. Khan’s most recent fight thirty months ago was a complete mismatch: a sort of palate cleanser after Khan lost to Terence Crawford in April 2019. With each fighter having fifteen months off and thirty-one months off, ring rust could be a factor. But something tells me that both men will be very focused on fight night, with each man wanting to punch the other one in the face and prove who the better Brit truly is.
Kell Brook conceded the A-side in negotiations to make this fight happen; and will give up six figures for every pound over the 149 catchweight limit he weighs in. And Amir Khan deserves some credit as well for finally signing on the dotted line. This fight has been simmering for years, and occasionally there have been sounds signaling that maybe this bout would take place. At long last, fight negotiations finally reached a boil. Though it may have taken longer than many had hoped or anticipated, thirsting fight fans can finally sip on Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook.
Kell Brook has promised a car park scrap between the two. No matter how much preparation and strategizing occurs in each training camp, on February 19th, a car park scrap seems almost inevitable.