It’s rare in boxing for money to be left on any table. If a major fight can be made—a major MONEY fight—then, somehow and some way, boxing businessmen find a way to make it happen.
That’s why the Amir Khan-Kell Brook saga is so strange.
An all-UK superfight between the two British elite-level fighters seemed like a no-brainer. Both competed in the same division, both came to prominence at roughly the same time, and there was more than a passing rivalry between the two.
The bad blood between Khan and Brook had been flowing almost from the beginning of their co-existence in the sport and as both fighters rose to prominence, the demand for a Khan-Brook showdown grew. There was no question that this fight, at the right time, could’ve filled any soccer stadium in the UK.
But it never happened.
Despite continued bad blood and nasty words via media, despite insanely spiteful attacks, like when Khan publicly insisted that Brook was a closeted homosexual, the fight never got close to being made. Even when Khan signed a multi-fight deal with Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn, there was no positive movement towards making it happen.
The general consensus among fans and media is that Khan has been the one pulling away from the bout more than Brook. The former junior welterweight champ was brought along as a burgeoning world stage superstar and, even now as a past-prime fighter who never quite achieved that superstar status, is reluctant to give up that idea of wanting only the biggest and the best. Khan is still pining away for big-money bouts with cash cows like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, despite being laid out fairly recently by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Terence Crawford.
Brook, meanwhile, has been fighting the biggest fights available to him, accounting well for himself against Shawn Porter and Frankie Gavin, but getting his face crushed (literally) in losing efforts to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence. Now, “Special K” is an old, well-worn 33 who is coming back in February after more than a year away from the sport, set to face pedestrian Mark DeLuca in a shake-off-the-ring-rust junior middleweight bout.
Yes, Khan and Brook are fighters deep into downward career spirals and are pretty close to the end of the line—but Khan vs. Brook would still be big. And that’s why it’s so odd that the fight isn’t being made. It isn’t like either fighter has all that many big fights available to them anymore.
Khan, though, begs to differ on that last point.
“I am in a position where I can fight the top fighters that bring a lot of money to the table and I am very lucky to be in that position,” Khan recently told The Bolton News.
“I can go to America, or go back to Saudi Arabia and do a fight there or I do a big fight in the UK.”
There might be a speck of truth to all of that. He’s still got name value and Saudi Arabia, which has already brought him in to fight once, is starved for name-value fighters—especially a Muslim name-value fighter. But a fight with Brook would still be the easiest, quickest route to a major money fight.
Brook, for his part, is focused on comeback opponent DeLuca, but also seems to be looking past a possible Khan fight.
“If I lose to DeLuca, absolutely it will be my last fight and I will walk away and retire,” Brook said following a media workout. “If I can’t beat DeLuca, how can I say I want to fight the elite of the sport, rematch Errol Spence or fight Terence Crawford? There’s no point and I don’t have the right to call for world titles. No – I have to win.”
This never-born mega-fight between British archrivals can’t be blamed on boxing’s handcuffing business practices or corrupt sanctioning bodies. This one’s on the fighters.
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