Khan and Brook: timing is everything

Haroon Ahmed
07/01/2017 4:42pm

Haroon Ahmed explains why he believes the time is not quite right for Amir Khan vs Kell Brook ...yet!

It’s the battle of the Brits and one of the biggest potential rivalries in the history of British boxing. It would sell out Wembley stadium ... Amir Khan vs Kell Brook.

The last big fight at Wembley was Carl Froch vs George Groves, with around 80,000 spectators in attendance, while the impending clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko has already sold 50,000 tickets, with more to come. Demand for a Khan vs Brook clash could potentially match or exceed these two contests.

Even politicians seem to be angling for the fight. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, recently said: ‘"London is open to the best talent in the world and that is why I am keen to see another super-fight in the capital and what better one ... than arch rivals Amir Khan and Kell Brook both in the ring at Wembley Stadium?"

The rivalry has been brewing for years, with regular Twitter exchanges between the pair.

In many ways the duo are ideally matched: Khan is 30 years old and so is Brook. The build-up for the fight would be immense but, having said all of that ... I don’t think the Brook fight should be the next move for Khan.

I’d continue to let the hype build.

Ultimately boxing is a business. If Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had fought the first time their names were matched, there is no chance the fight collectively would have made $400 million, as it did in 2015. Indeed, if they had fought in 2010 instead then it is likely that their combined purse would have totalled an estimated $150 million.

I spoke with Khan's advisor and PR manager Ameem Haq, who made a pertinent point: “Khan always has the Brook fight, and he’s in the position to dictate when he wants it because he’s earned it through consistent performances at the elite level.”

Delaying the Khan vs Brook fight would, I believe, work in both men's favour in terms of the purse. Even though boxing fans have been waiting a long time for the fight, creating yet more suspense and anticipation will only increase the PPV numbers once the fight actually does take place.

Some fans have claimed “Khan is ducking Brook” or “Khan is scared of Brook”.

I struggle to believe that - would a man who has been in the ring with the likes of Marcos Maidana and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez be scared of Brook or, indeed, any boxer?

Brook is a good fighter, but in my book his achievements do not match up to Khan’s accomplishments. The Bolton boxer was an Olympic silver medallist at the age of 17 and has achieved numerous victories over reputable opponents.

Khan is a former two-time world champion, who currently holds no belts. Brook on the other hand is the IBF Welterweight champion.

But, who is the bigger name? Who is the ‘A side in the fight’, as Floyd Mayweather might put it?

Definitely Amir Khan.

It is worth remembering that Khan has fought a current or former world champion in 12 of his last 15 contests, in comparison Brook has fought just four world titlists in his entire career.

Although 'Special K' has increased his level of opposition since 2014 by fighting quality operators in Gennady Golovkin and Shawn Porter, his overall resume is weaker than Khan, who has fought a higher class of opposition for a longer period of time. Khan has defeated the likes of Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi and Devon Alexander - all three were world champions at some point, and 'King Khan' beat them all comfortably.

These victories have contributed to Khan’s image as a top-level fighter, and placed him in contention for potential super-fights against the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

The contrast in the quality of opposition of the two men is striking, leading me to believe that arguably the main reason the potential Khan vs Brook fight has such hype surrounding it is due to the British angle.

If Brook (or Khan) were from America, would the fight between the two still be of such interest?

From Khan’s perspective, delaying the fight is a no-brainer. He is currently the mandatory challenger for the WBC belt and is therefore in line to fight the winner of Danny Garcia vs Keith Thurman.

If he fights Brook before that mandatory fight and loses, he will forfeit his ranking and sacrifice his position as a world level contender, thus risking the opportunity to be involved in big fights.

If Khan takes the WBC mandatory route and loses, he still has the option of the Brook fight. In essence, he always has the Brook fight regardless of what happens elsewhere, due to the magnitude and hype surrounding the two men's rivalry and the seemingly insatiable demand for the contest.

Therefore it would make sense for Khan to delay it, and this is what I believe he is doing.

Don't get me wrong, as a boxing fan, I’d love to see the fight take place. Khan would bring speed to the contest, whereas Brook would bring timing and power. It could make a perfect match-up, particularly considering Khan’s weakness against heavy punchers.

I see the fight going two ways. A Khan points win or a Brook victory by knockout. I don’t see Khan blasting out Brook due to his lack of power, and I certainly don’t see Brook, or in fact, any fighter out-boxing Khan.

As intriguing a fight as it is though, I don't think the timing is quite right... yet!