It’s years past when it would have been best, but there’s still some real intrigue in Saturday’s fight between Amir Khan and Kell Brook, even if it comes down to who you think has more of the little left in their tanks.
So let’s not beat around the bush — who wins and how on Saturday?
Scott Christ (3-4)
Amir Khan has some at least half-viable reasons for not fighting Brook before now. He was long able to get bigger fights than Kell Brook — yes, he took some in-between fights that weren’t, but those all did or could have led to bigger fights than Brook. Simply put, Khan had bigger goals than being a big star in the UK, so silly or not, once he left and had main events in the United States, going back to be in a UK main event — I mean, I’ll just say I can buy that as his reasoning, and that it makes sense to him. The game has changed since then, with the UK becoming a bigger money market than ever, and also, well, both these guys are about done.
Khan and Brook are both good fighters who have had damn good careers. I think that gets lost a bit in some of the anti-Khan fan sentiment especially. Yeah, his chin is glass, and look how well he did anyway. Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to watch less flawed, more boring fighters whose rounds wash over you, one after another, instead of Amir Khan. He is one of the most exciting fighters the sport has seen since he turned pro almost 17 years ago. He was getting rocked as early as Willie Limond at domestic level in 2007. He was smashed in 54 seconds by Briedis Prescott in 2008, and that made people think Prescott was a contender for a bit. (He was not.)
Khan is vulnerable. He is also highly skilled even when he’s not fully dialed in or at his very best. He’s got great hand speed, still well above average even if not at peak, and when focused he can box well, but his fights usually stay compelling because you never know when that game-changer shot might land. More than just having a bad chin for a top guy, he is frequently defensively irresponsible, and it only takes a shot.
I think he beats Brook because I think he’s a better fighter than Brook. I believe they’re about equally faded. Brook’s punch resistance has dropped, while Khan’s has stayed about the same, it’s always been a major problem. Brook’s overall game has probably dipped a bit more than Khan’s has. But it’s a pick’em here, because neither of them take a great shot anymore. Anything can happen. Part of me wants to put a couple bucks on a draw or something because it seems goofy enough that this is even happening finally. But I’m going with Khan for the picks, and I don’t think we get the knockout. I expect both to be a more tentative than they’re letting on, especially in the early rounds, and we may get into something more tactical. If both are given time to warm up in the ring, I think we see the distance. Khan UD-12
Wil Esco (4-3)
There aren’t many (if any) better things in professional boxing than a genuine bad blood match, and I’m not sure there’s any two fighters in the entire sport of boxing that hate one another more than Amir Khan and Kell Brook. With that said I’d like to make one point perfectly clear: this fight is years overdue because of Khan and not because of Brook. Khan has largely made a career out of trolling Brook, taunting him into believing he needed to prove himself worthy of the fight, and whenever Brook did, Khan would come up with another reason why Brook was beneath him. I’ve long reasoned that Khan’s personal disdain for Brook far outweighed the financial rewards of the big British clash, and Khan just couldn’t bear to look himself in the mirror if he lost to his nemesis, so why give him an opportunity in the first place?
So why is Khan finally giving Brook this fight in the twilight of their careers? He’s basically already intimated the real reason in the promotional build-up as far as I’m concerned: he believes Brook is now a ‘half-broken’ man following some tough fights that left him with two surgically repaired eye sockets, and now Khan clearly likes his chances to finish Brook off at this point. And as for my prediction, well, my heart says Brook while my head says Khan. I’ve long thought Brook was primed to beat Khan if they ever fought, but spending a lot of time following the promotion I can’t help but worry if this moment is too overwhelming for Brook. Brook has wanted this fight for so very long, and the way Khan is easily able to wind him up, I honestly wonder if Brook will be able to control his emotions in the ring. I have no doubt Khan’s plan is to use Brook’s rage against him while he tries to box a more disciplined kind of fight from range while getting Brook to abandon his game plan.
There’s also a real question as to their respective punch resistances, neither of which is top notch and something that could easily have the fight tilt one way or another. In the end, though, I’m going to pick Brook to win a stoppage because everything else aside, that would be the most satisfying result. That’s not really hard-hitting ‘analysis’ or what have you, but after watching Kanye’s new Netflix documentary I’ve been inspired to follow my heart. Brook TKO-7
John Hansen (5-2)
It would have been nice to see Brook and Khan fight each other in The Odd Couple stage of their careers. But, Grumpy Old Men was a good movie, too. When you put the right performers together, not even the ravages of time can keep them from putting on a good show.
Analysis based on prime performance seems pointless here, though fortunately both men are the same age and around roughly at the same point of downslope in their careers. You can try to compare their performances against Terence Crawford, if you have some measure of weighing looking good but getting stopped quicker against looking cautious but surviving slightly longer.
Instead, I’ll just go with a gut feel based on my impression that this fight hasn’t already happened only because Amir Khan didn’t want it. I think beating Khan is a top tier bucket list goal for Brook, and I don’t think he’ll let the opportunity escape him. The man is out of eye sockets to break, but Khan’s chin hasn’t gotten any less hittable.
It’s never too late to have a good time, and hopefully that’s what we’re in for as viewers. Brook TKO-8
Patrick Stumberg (3-4)
Here’s the grain of salt to take my pick with: I want Amir Khan to get demolished. Or, to use his preferred parlance, Patrick Stumberg wants Amir Khan to get demolished.
Luckily for me, that seems the likeliest outcome. Of their respective keys to victory, Khan’s speed is more likely to suffer as a result of age and rust than Brook’s size and power. Considering how integral that speed is to protecting his infamous chin, the overdue nature of this fight really doesn’t seem like it’ll work out in his favor. There’s the issue of Brook’s accumulated damage, of course, but I still like him to take Khan’s best shots much more than vice-versa.
If both men met at their prime, I’d favor Brook 60/40, 70/30ish. If anything, I favor a worn-down, battered Brook over a rusty Khan even more. He clips Khan sometime in the first six. Brook TKO-4
And the staff winner is...
Kell Brook (3-1)!
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage for Khan vs Brook on Saturday, Feb. 19, starting at 1 pm ET. The show will stream live on ESPN+ for U.S. viewers and air on Sky Box Office for those in the United Kingdom.