Boxing rivals Khan and Brook to settle 18-year-old in the making

The feud originated in a pre-Olympic training session 18 years ago, when two fiery amateurs were starting their boxing careers.

That will be settled on Saturday, with one of the former world champions eligible to be hit until retirement.

No world title will be on the line when Amir Khan and Kell Brook meet for an all-British fight at Manchester Arena that was sold out in 10 minutes. Those days seem long gone.

Instead, this long-awaited grudge match is all about settling an old score. Scratch a big itch. Maybe secure one last big payday for two fighters coming down from the pinnacle of boxing.

The feud between the two 35-year-olds born six months and around 100 miles apart in the north of England is real and long-lasting. Their fight – at a mutually agreed weight of 149lbs – came a few years too late, but British boxing fans are just happy it’s happening.

In 2004, Khan and Brook were at a boxing training camp in England, with both looking to make the UK squad for the Athens Olympics. Khan eventually got there, winning a silver medal, and can recall what he called “great training sessions” which – in his words – saw him “Kell’s school in the ring”.

“He hates me because I gave him a beating,” said Khan, who claimed he was told to use only one hand and to “calm down” on Brook. “It stuck with him. Now he envies my career and wonders why he couldn’t do what I did.

Khan (34-5, 21 KOs) is the more famous of the two, in Britain due to his Olympic silver and in boxing worldwide for being the unified light welterweight champion from 2009 to 2012 who then fought – and lost to – big names like Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Terence Crawford in the United States.

Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) fought primarily in Great Britain but picked up the biggest win of his career in California beating Shawn Porter in 2014 to become IBF welterweight champion until his brutal loss to Gennady Golovkin in London two years later.

In one of two fights since 2018, Brook was knocked out by Crawford in November 2020 and wondered in the run up to Khan’s fight if he really wanted to continue boxing.

“It’s a fight I’ve always wanted, it will cement my legacy in this game,” Brook said. “I did everything except that grudge match.”

For Brook, it’s about earning the respect he feels he never got from Khan, and perhaps others, for rising through the ranks of boxing “the hard way”.

A fight in 2017 never materialized because Khan allegedly demanded a 70-30 purse split in his favor.

Having been in the ring with the two Brits, Crawford may be a good judge of who could win and the undefeated WBO welterweight champion believes Khan has the advantage. Part of Khan’s training camp was spent in Nebraska with Crawford.

“I saw how hard he trained, how he fought, how he improved and I see the hunger in his eyes,” Crawford said.

Khan’s last fight was even longer, in July 2019, and he and his family have since been the subject of a BBC reality show called ‘Meet the Khans: Big in Bolton’. In 2017, he participated in another reality show, “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”

He still feels that there is still life in his career.

“I feel better at 35 than at 25, believe it or not,” Khan said. “I feel so strong, so fresh. I rediscovered this love for the sport.


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