Kell Brook and Amir Khan took a long time to settle things, but things are now settled, and it’s Kell Brook who leaves Manchester with the most emotional win of his pro career, and Amir Khan who has to live with the defeat.
Brook (40-3, 28 KO) stopped Khan (34-6, 21 KO) early in the sixth round in Manchester, doing damage from the opening round on and really taking the fight over in the fifth round. Khan, whose legs wobbled on several occasions, was no longer offering much return fire, not even having the moments he’d had in the first few rounds anymore, and referee Victor Loughlin stepped in to end the contest at 0:51 of round six.
Much of the discussion pre-fight was about both being “washed,” or at the very least past their prime, and they are. But that also opened this up to be a potentially interesting fight — well-matched is well-matched, and this was well-matched on paper, two faded fighters, both 35, with a long and sincere grudge that had never made its way into the ring.
Brook definitely looked the less shop-worn of the two, but mostly it came down to the fact that Khan has never had a good chin, good punch resistance, however you want to put it, and he still doesn’t. He’s game, and unless you knock him truly out or badly loopy, he will keep trying to fight.
He did that here, staying on his fight, holding and avoiding, trying to land bombs in return. But by the third or fourth round, it was clear that even with the successes Khan had in spurts, this was the fight Kell Brook wanted. He was patient, waited for Khan to make mistakes, and tried to capitalize with his timing, which trumped Khan’s still very impressive hand speed.
In the end, Brook was able to basically physically dominate the fight. He had lost all respect for Khan’s return fire, and was basically daring Amir to throw more, to load up and give him those openings. When Khan didn’t make the massive mistakes, Brook just marched forward even more aggressively than he already had been, pressuring and throwing shots, landing plenty enough to be a major issue for Khan.
Brook paid off for those who took him as a -165 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. Khan had come in a +135 underdog. It was a tough fight to call in some ways simply because we hadn’t seen either man fight in a while, both of them had clearly fallen off from their top days. And it wasn’t a single shot that did Amir in. It was simply that Brook had a lot more spite and a lot more determination. He clearly had no intention of letting Amir Khan get comfortable or win this fight, and he didn’t.
Tasha Jonas TKO-2 Christian Namus
Jonas didn’t just jump up a few divisions and win a world title, she absolutely dominated to do it. Namus (25-7, 8 KO) isn’t going to be confused with Claressa Shields or anything, but she’s a former world titleholder at 154, she’s had various title fights otherwise, and done a lot better than she did here.
Jonas (11-2-1, 8 KO) caught her with a right hook in the first round that put Namus down, and if these were three minute rounds, it would have ended there. But Jonas went right back at her to start the second, dropped her again, and referee Howard Foster called it off, handing Jonas a world title at 154 after tough failures to win a belt at 130 and 135 in 2020 and 2021.
“She took it on short notice, but I respected who she was and what she came with. I knew I would win, it was just a case of how I did it,” Jonas said. “When I seen I had her in the first round, I didn’t think she’d recover. Joe (Gallagher) said, ‘Go after her, go after her,’ and that’s what I did. Thankfully I got the stoppage.”
It’s difficult to not feel good for Jonas, who is a hard-working, very talented fighter who came into the pro game and was right there in two divisions that are among the very best in women’s boxing. She saw an opening here and took the shot, and she made it stick. She’s a professional world champion now.
Frazer Clarke TKO-1 Jake Darnell
Listen, this was a totally predictable pro debut win for heavyweight Clarke (1-0, 1 KO), who won super heavyweight bronze in Tokyo. His original opponent had to withdraw late, various attempts to find someone else fell through, and the spot went to Jake Darnell, who attended Wednesday’s public workout as a fan. Darnell had zero pro fights, with one on-record bare knuckle bout in 2018, which he lost.
But give Jake Darnell some credit. First of all, while way over-matched, he obviously wasn’t some total incompetent. And he tried his best. Clarke had way, way, way too much for him, and that was clear when the corner threw the towel in just over two minutes. Darnell, though, saved Frazer Clarke’s debut date, got him in the ring, and gave his best. He got to fight an Olympic bronze medalist in front of about 20,000 people in Manchester on a major pay-per-view card. It’s a story he’ll always have. He got to live a little dream.
“No disrespect, but the opponent was probably a soft touch. The dreaded COVID struck my original opponent, it was a nightmare in the build-up, but my job is to get in there, and do what I do best,” Clarke said.
Clarke did show some appreciation and respect for Darnell after the fight was over.
Undercard results and highlights
- Hassan Azim PTS-4 MJ Hall: This was a real old timey (like, from 2017) swing fight, instead of getting plunked on the prelims earlier on in the evening. I think everyone expected they’d have some time to fill at some point. Hassan is the older brother of Adam Azim, who went on the fight prior and impressed. Hassan is not nearly the prospect his brother is, if we’re being honest, but he goes to 2-0 (1 KO) with the win over veteran journeyman Hall, who drops to a gentleman’s 2-74-2 (0 KO), the referee scoring it 40-36.
- Adam Azim TKO-3 Jordan Ellison: Azim is a 19-year-old 135/140 prospect, and he’s already drawn some comparisons to Naseem Hamed, which is a tall order, but he’s also been picked up by Shane McGuigan, and the McGuigans have real eyes for talent. Ellison (13-36-2, 1 KO) is one of those journeyman knockaround guys, craftier than his record looks, wins on occasion, rarely gets stopped. But Azim (3-0, 2 KO) just sparked him hard in the third round here, opening up and finishing things with a left hook that really hit Ellison’s gloves but powered through and rocked the young veteran’s head around and put him on the canvas. Referee Darren Sarginson stopped it there, and that was the right call. Azim looks a cut above the average prospect, someone to keep your eye on.
- Brad Rea TKO-1 Craig McCarthy: A TKO officially, but this was a clean knockout for Brad Rea, who goes to 12-0 (5 KO). It’s a TKO because referee Darren Sarginson rightly immediately stopped the fight without a count, but McCarthy (8-1-1, 2 KO) had no hope of getting up. Two right hands landed for Rea before a vicious left uppercut ended the fight at 1:53 of the opening round. It was a well-matched fight on paper, no mismatch, and Rea just did the business. Really good win for the 24-year-old middleweight.
- Viddal Riley PTS-6 Willbeforce Shihepo: Riley, ostensibly a cruiserweight prospect, gets the 60-53 decision to go to 5-0 (2 KO). He did drop Shihepo (25-14, 18 KO) in the first, but wound up going the distance. Ugly fight; Riley is not only a major work in progress but was also a little rusty, and the 37-year-old Namibian does know how to hang around in a fight if nothing else, so it got a little sloppy in there. Riley says he wants to be active. This was his first fight in two years.
- Germaine Browne UD-10 Charlie Schofield: Scores were 98-92, 98-92, and 99-92. Brown pretty handily controlled the fight, which nets him the English super middleweight title, which is a step toward a possible British title fight at 168. Browne (12-0, 3 KO) was just a level above Schofield (17-2, 1 KO) throughout, and about all Schofield could do is constantly hold and trap Browne’s arm to try and neutralize the offense. It worked, kinda, but judges were rightly not impressed.