Amir Khan and Kell Brook have talked up a fight for years, and it didn’t get done.
On Saturday, the two stars finally meet, headlining in Manchester, England, at a 149 lb catchweight, both age 35, both past their prime days, but with a lot of pride on the line in a genuine grudge match.
Khan (34-5, 21 KO) and Brook (39-3, 27 KO) got only slightly heated at today’s final press conference, no shoving matches or anything, but there was an intensity there the entire time they were speaking, with both acknowledging how desperately they want — even need — to win this fight.
“I’m very excited. This is a massive fight for me, my 40th fight. It has to be one of the biggest fights of my career. Winning world titles is one thing, going to America was my dream, to fight over there, and I did that. But this fight means a lot to me and my career. We’ve gone back to the drawing board, changed my whole training camp, and that’s why I joined Team BoMac and Team Crawford. I needed that motivation and that push. The only people who could do that for me was this team. Knowing this will be one of the biggest fights in Britain gives you that motivation, as well.”
“I’m worried about Kell’s health after the beating I’m gonna be giving him. It’ll be something he’s never had before. We are gonna definitely put him in his place. It’s been a very long time — 10 years, it’s been going on. This is my time now to put him in his place.
“I think Kell’s always been very obsessed with my career, like a fanboy. That’s the honest truth. I’ve been living in his head for such a long time. It’s been like that, but we just go in there, put the words aside. We’ve done enough talking. I just can’t wait to get in the ring and do a job on him.”
“I think it’s more jealousy than anything. I’ve been having my own career, fighting, traveling to America. My dream was always to win a world title and fight in the likes of Madison Square Garden, the MGM Grand, having your face lit up on the Vegas strip. Obviously Kell was over here. That’s the reason the fight didn’t happen then, I was already campaigning in America. Now it makes sense. A lot of people might say it’s too late, but I think it’s massive. I think it’s the right time for the fight to happen.”
“It’s a big thing for us both; if either of us lose, it’s something that will haunt us for a very long time. That’s the reason I’ve trained so hard. I’ve done everything I’ve needed to because I know I can’t lose this fight.”
“I’m gonna hurt him and he’s gonna be put in his place. I’m going to shut him up for good. Something he’s going to remember for a very long time.”
“I really need to win this fight. This is a fight I’m going to definitely win. I’ve put the hard work in to make sure I come through it with flying colors.”
“It goes back to the amateur days. He boxed at 60 kg, I was 63.5. He used to win championships at his weight and I was the one above. We shared the same room (on Team GB). He did what he did in the Olympics. We was with the same promoter, Frank Warren, and we always got promised we would fight down the line. But he said he didn’t even know who I was. He’s never given me that respect. We did an article in Boxing News when we were 18 years old.”
“I don’t like him, he don’t like me, we’re going to see an excellent fight.”
“We’re three sleeps away. He’s definitely gonna sleep Saturday night when I smash him. We’re days and he can say what he’s saying today. After Saturday, nobody’s going to be interested. He can go to Dubai and do his thing, that’s the end of it.”
“We’re going to get a knockout. He’s going on his face or back, either way.”
“This means so much to me. This fight’s been talked about for many, many years. You’re going to see the condition and the hard work I’ve put in. I’m ready for 12 hard rounds. I’m ready to put a show on for the fans.”
Brian McIntyre, Khan’s trainer
“He pushed it in camp, he grinded it out. He didn’t complain one time. We went through four, five, maybe six sparring partners. I pushed him and pushed him so I could hear him say, ‘I quit,’ and he never said it. He just kept going and me and the team are proud of him. I’m not taking no shit, I don’t wanna hear no shit, just get the fuckin’ work done.”
Dominic Ingle, Brook’s trainer
“To be honest, I’m surprised Amir’s actually taken the fight. In the position he’s in, he’s a bit of a celebrity, a bit of a superstar, it’s not really a fight he needed to do. It’s not really going to benefit him apart from the money. He’s got more to lose than he has to gain. We can’t actually believe he’s turned up. We needed the fight, Khan didn’t need the fight. People expect him to beat Kell Brook.”
“The only thing that’s thrown a fly in the ointment is the bookies are with Kell. The odds aren’t very good to bet on Kell because he’s the favorite. I wouldn’t have taken the fight if I was Khan.”
“It will be interesting to see if Brian McIntyre actually knows anything about Kell Brook. The only thing he knows is what he’s seen against Crawford. It wasn’t much different to what Khan did, but the thing is, Khan took a way out. He said he got hit in the balls and he was done. He didn’t want the knockout.”
“It’s going to come down to the physicalities. Khan is a very good talker, I love listening to him. I love it. But on the night there’s not going to be any talking, it’s just down to who wins, who punches the hardest, who’s got something left. I believe Kell’s got more left in the tank than Amir Khan.”