Updated: May 5
A look into the tumultuous history of a fight that almost never happened!
Photo: Sky Sports
On February 19, one of British boxing’s most bitter rivalries in recent memory will be settled.
Amir Khan and Kell Brook will finally meet in the ring this Saturday, after more than a decade of call outs, failed negotiations and allegations of ducking.
After several attempts to make the fight, their matchup seemed destined to wither away, taking the same avenue as Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter. Brook, to an extent, was viewed by some as the Junior Witter of Khan’s career; the spanner in the works that could setback the promise of big PPV paydays.
Despite their infamous clash on Sky Sports Ringside in 2012, and both boxers being under the same promotional banner in 2018, their fight kept falling by the wayside at the 11th hour, with both men’s careers taking different trajectories.
Khan has repeatedly stated he is “levels above” the man from Sheffield, and Brook has always maintained that Khan cannot face the prospect of losing to him.
Conversations about their potential matchup began swirling in boxing circles as early as 2009, after Khan captured Andriy Kotelnik’s WBA super lightweight title. Brook, who did not enjoy the same fame and adulation as the Bolton star, appeared earlier on the undercard to defend his British welterweight strap against Michael Lomax.
To put that in perspective, when British Boxing fans first began asking who would win between the 2004 Olympian and the Ingle Gym prodigy, Gordon Brown was still tackling the financial crisis, Barack Obama was settling into the White House and YouTube was still in its infancy. That’s how much time has past since the consideration of their fight first made its way into boxing’s consciousness.
Khan and Brook looked to fight in 2012 after exchanging heated words on Sky Sports Ringside.
Photo: Give Me Sport
Fast forward thirteen years, comprising of highs and lows, numerous world titles, multi million dollar pay days, stone cold knockdowns and fractured orbital bones, the date is finally set for the inevitable clash, which may in time define their legacies.
Many will complain that their upcoming fight should have come ten years earlier – and such grievances are easily understood. But when presale tickets sold out in under four minutes it demonstrated that the hunger for this fight remains just as strong as it did when Khan and Brook were in their prime.
It goes without saying that bragging rights lie at the heart of this contest, leaving one man with a bitter pill to swallow come Feb 19. Khan’s resume glistens with standout names and sensational performances, but his legacy could be upended should Brook best his career long rival - the outcome lingering at the top of British boxing memory. As Adam Smith remarked at the press conference: “This is the fight and night that Amir Khan and Kell Brook will be remembered for.”
Past its sell by date it may be, but it remains a real fight, with all the passion, rivalry and intensity that keeps fans on the edge of their seats and deliberating on social media. The fight is augmented by a decade long drama between the two protagonists who have each made their feelings no secret. The disdain is real, and fortunately for boxing fans, at last, the date looms near.
As both fighters taper off their training and bring heightened focus to the event ahead of them, fight fans are gearing up for what has the potential to be a fight of the year in the UK.
Khan and Brook’s names will be forever connected, bound by their era and geography, and once their paths finally cross on Saturday, the “who wins?” conversation will finally be put to bed, though the timing of this fight will always taint the outcome.