How Kell Brook settled one of boxing’s oldest scores

Did it live up to expectation? Probably not. Was it almost 20 years too late? Definitely. But now the long-standing rivalry between Kell Brook and Amir Khan is over after their recent bout in Manchester. The two were certainly past their best, and as far as Khan was concerned the fight was merely a payday and another opportunity to have his name in the limelight. Both now 35, there were scores to be settled that date back as far as 2004, but few expected a proper bout to come to fruition.

The feud stretches back to the Olympics in Athens, where Brook claims Khan had disrespected him. Having won a silver medal, Khan was riding the crest of a wave and even after losing to Mario Kindelán for the gold medal bout, the public’s perception of the ‘King’ was that he was the next big thing in the welterweight division. Brook had to bide his time and racked up an impressive number of wins at amateur and national level, but failed to be selected for Team GB, and resented Khan for it.

Over the next ten years the two would enjoy success, albeit very different career paths. Khan would become IBF Champion in 2011, beating Lamont Peterson to become light-welterweight champion, whereas Brook would bounce between welterweight and middleweight, enjoying memorable bouts with the likes of Errol Spence Jr. and Gennady Golovkin, who delivered Brook’s first career loss after a fifth-round stoppage.

Somehow the two never crossed paths, and with the politics of boxing and the number of mandatory clauses in place, the two would have to wait another few years before they could clash heads.

In that time, Khan had become something of a mainstream tv personality, appearing on I’m ACelebrity…Get Me Out of Here and Meet the Khans: Big in Bolton, as opposed to Brook, who went on a surge of good results, although against much lesser opponents, before succumbing to defeat against Terence Crawford. Both men were at a crossroads, and with the influence of social media, a war of words was once again reignited.

Despite Brook being the clear favourite in the sports betting odds, Khan still accepted the fight. And to his credit, gave a good account of himself in the early rounds at the Manchester Arena. However, Brook looked much sharper throughout the bout and inevitably took control. He finally settled things in the sixth round, which was hard to watch at times, such was Brook’s dominance over proceedings. He was relentless and gave the referee no choice but to stop the fight. Brook claimed the win and instantly set his eyes on the next target.

“I can live at peace with Amir Khan on my record,” Brook said. “My mojo is back and I love this game. We will listen to loved ones and see, but I’m back, baby.

“I can walk away but I could fight [Chris] Eubank [Jr]. I don’t like Eubank. If the fight is right I will fight – I’m a prize fighter.”

Khan on the other hand, while certainly magnanimous in defeat, hinted that the fight may have been his last, with his best years well behind him.

“Forty fights is a lot of fights. Winning two world titles, going to America… I need to sit down with my family, but it’s more towards the end of my career,” he said.“That love of the sport is not there anymore. When I was in the ring [before] I had that excitement, but I didn’t have it. I felt quite flat and maybe that’s a sign I should be calling it a day.”

The dust has finally settled and only time will tell what the future has in store for two of Britain’s best of the modern era.

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