Khan doesn’t want it with Brook

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote about five all-British fights that I wanted to see. They didn’t all happen in 2014 but, with the exception of one, all have occurred at the time of writing. That one fight is Kell Brook vs Amir Khan.

Since that post, Khan has fought four times with three wins and one loss. That loss was a KO at the hands of Canelo, a fight that he was roundly predicted to lose. Most boxing fans foresaw his chin wouldn’t be able to withstand Canelo’s power (not to mention the jump in weight to a catchweight of 155lbs being too much for him). As far as modern boxers go, Khan’s frequency in the ring is probably just below average (if not too infrequent for those of us that hark back to the golden eras of the sport where fighters were much more active) but it’s been punctuated by some admirable charity work.

In contrast, Brook has fought six times in the same period. During that time he wrested the IBF welterweight belt from Shawn Porter, beating the American as the away fighter. Subsequently, he defended it against less impressive opponents than those faced by Khan. Though his most recent fight was against Gennady Golovkin, a fight he lost by TKO following his corner retiring him due to a broken eye socket.

In similar circumstances to Canelo vs Khan, Brook went up in weight to fight at middleweight but even in defeat, his stock rose and there was no shame in losing his ‘0’. Not to detract from Golovkin’s victory and ferocious punch power but Brook ended the fight on his feet (unlike Khan who fought a less spiteful puncher in Canelo yet ended up on the canvas). Furthermore, had Brook not sustained the injury that led to the fight being stopped, he showed that he was not only able to withstand Golovkin’s punch power but also trouble him with his own firepower, athleticism and pugilism. In fact I can’t recall when another fighter put it on Golovkin like Brook did in the second round of their fight.

Both fighters are therefore coming off losses and looking for big money fights which would make Brook vs Khan a no-brainer. Alas, more than ever, it seems that Khan just doesn’t want it with Brook.

Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn have chased this fight for so many years that it’s become borderline embarrassing in how much they want the fight. Initially, Khan claimed that the fight didn’t make commercial sense as Brook was largely unknown outside of boxing circles, didn’t have any high profile names on his resume and didn’t have a belt. And he was right. Despite my desire to see this fight, taking it a few years earlier would have likely seen it generate much less revenue than it could do today. Yet despite his valid opposition then, Khan and his team clearly didn’t want the fight. They continue to claim that Brook isn’t a problem for them and that they’d be the a-side to the fight but on both counts I would beg to differ.

Brook has since addressed Khan’s concerns regarding the commercial viability of the fight. He’s now IBF champion, has increased his stock on both sides of the Atlantic and despite a defeat, troubled GGG and took his best shots in a way that no middleweight has done. Conversely, Khan hasn’t been particularly active and has failed to deliver a performance that’ll erase memories of his chin getting lit up like a christmas tree (as a friend once so eloquently put it).

Khan is a bigger name in America where he’s had more of a presence and is now based but I still see him as the b-side to the fight. And since this fight was first mooted, I’ve seen Brook as the favourite. Indeed, and as Khan is very aware of hence his reluctance, I can see a defeat against Brook ending his career.

Canelo vs Khan was accurately billed Power vs Speed, a nod to what each fighter was bringing to the table in their respective skill set. On that basis, Brook vs Khan should be billed ‘power and accuracy vs speed and a suspect chin’. I’ve said repeatedly that Khan can’t hold a shot and the KOs he has experienced, or wars like his fight against Marcos Maidana (where he showed himself to have heart and balls in abundance), will not only have damaged his confidence but also affected his already fragile punch resistance. His trademark poor discipline in refraining from a temptation to trade also does him few favours. His chin isn’t built for brawling and big punchers like Brook will tear him a new one if he tries to initiate a tear up.

The sticking point in resumed negotiations between the two camps are reportedly the split (Khan still feels he’s the a-side and should take the lion’s share while Brook is content to take a 50–50 split). Again, Khan is presenting a stumbling block through his misguided hubris as he brings less to the table by the day. He’s also insisted that the fight take place at welterweight; a clear disadvantage to Brook who’s disadvantaged at the weight and would perform more effectively at the light middleweight limit of 154lbs.

With all of Khan’s rhetoric prior to the Canelo fight of being able to perform better at a higher weight class, why not take the fight at 154lbs? Because he’s clutching at straws to duck the fight or give himself an advantage if it does happen.

I don’t want Brook to fight at welterweight and would rather see him relinquish his IBF welterweight belt and move up in weight. He’s weight drained at welterweight and looked the best we’ve seen him at 160lbs when he fought Golovkin. But his own stubbornness is preventing him from making the move. He’s the a-side in the fight and if Khan really wanted it, he’d move up for the fight and the consequent pay day and opportunity to prove himself. He should also be grateful that Brook isn’t pushing for more of a 50–50 split (which is probably fair given Khan’s profile).

Fight fans want to see the fight and Brook wants it too. It’s only Khan who doesn’t. Whether he’s delusional in his demands as he tries to cash out of boxing, or just ducking Brook to avoid the risk of what could be the end of his career, time is running out for this fight to happen.