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Brook chases legacy, while Khan chases Crawford

The potential British grudge match has rumbled on for too long, with a meeting between the pair feeling further away than ever. 

Boxing in Sheffield Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

In early September I wrote a piece for BLH discussing whether the boxing community cared about Brook vs. Khan anymore. This was in the run-up to Amir Khan’s Sept. 8 clash with Colombian Samuel Vargas, a fight that would prove a tougher challenge than expected for the self-proclaimed King.

By the way. Few really did care.

Since then we’ve had to endure the same script that we have been used to over the five or six years of this fight being in the pipeline. “Brook’s ducking Khan”. “Brook needs Khan”. “It’s now or never” — headlines get recycled on a weekly basis, with no end in sight now that Matchroom and Eddie Hearn promote both fighters.

This past Saturday, Kell Brook returned to action — floating between welterweight and light middleweight — against the obscure Australian challenger Michael Zerafa. Expected to be a quick, easy night’s work for Special K, Brook took punishment over 12 long and hard-to-watch rounds as he fought to a unanimous decision in Sheffield.

Brook looked sluggish. With a lack of movement and a lack of real discipline in the fight, Zerafa had a lot of joy in the middle of rounds as Brook looked to force a stoppage that wasn’t coming.

Inactivity and a lack of consistent matchmaking have stifled the career of Brook. Since his famous night in California — claiming the IBF welterweight world championship off of Shawn Porter — Brook’s five wins have come against underwhelming opposition. Jo Jo Dan; Frankie Gavin; Kevin Bizier; Sergey Rabchenko and, now, Michael Zerafa sandwich two devastating losses to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr., in a period of four years that has sucked the life out of the Sheffield fighter’s career.

Speaking in the ring after Saturday’s fight Brook was honest in his assessment; he also spent little time in addressing his foe for the umpteenth time:

“It’s the best training camp I’ve ever had, tonight. I was a bit flat. We all know I have it in my arsenal to be special. But I’ve got the buzz again, I’m reborn,” Brook said. “Next year I’m coming for the big boys. It’s now or never. Amir, I’m ready, I’m hungry, I’m fit.”

Eddie Hearn was quick to jump in with this assessment of the fight: “If I was Amir Khan, I would be on the phone now to take this fight. After Khan boxed Vargas, Kell became the favourite, and check with the bookmakers after this one, Khan will become the favourite. Kell makes his own decisions and we can’t just wait on that. He is the mandatory for Jarrett Hurd now if he wants to stay at 154lbs. He knows he’s got to be a lot better than that and he will be.”

So for Brook, it looks like it’s Khan or Jarrett Hurd. For Khan, it looks like it’s Brook or Terence Crawford. How has it come to this?

Both men have disappointed in their previous fights; both men look like Father Time has caught up with them as they look for their final defining nights in the sport. On current form: Jarrett Hurd and Terence Crawford are simply out of their leagues.

Speaking before Saturday, Brook was keen to underline his standpoint on the last, last, last chance of a fight with Khan materialising:

“I’m doing everything I can to make this fight happen, and everyone knows it’s him who is running scared. Amir Khan shook my hand and looked me dead in the eye and said we would fight next. What can I do? I’ve bent over backwards.”

It’s time we moved on from this debacle. Heck, you probably already have! Britain loves a grudge match, and despite a lack of interest from across the pond, there is still a hunger for this fight in the UK.

He says, she says. The back and forth from each of their teams have drained column inches for too long. Khan only has one fight left with Matchroom Boxing, and if it’s not a fight with Brook then it will well and truly never happen.

The truth of the matter is: a loss for either of these fighters in this proposed grudge match would end their career there and then. A trip for either to the States to face pound-for-pound stars would not.

Six years on and the risk STILL isn’t worth it for Kell Brook or Amir Khan. It’s quite ridiculous really. Both will be out of their depth in their next move, but will come again in the recycled tale of the “plucky Brit”.

Brook vs. Khan looks to be well and truly dead after this weekend. The question is: was it ever really alive?

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