After years of toing and froing with regards to negotiations, posturing and calls for respect, Amir Khan and Kell Brook are finally scheduled to do battle at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday night.
Much like the Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquaio saga, there is the perception that this fight is taking place several years too late, but that will not prevent eyeballs from watching the highly-anticipated all-British showdown.
What has not changed over the year is the difference of opinions, with some insisting that the skills of Khan will win the day whereas others are backing Brook’s accuracy to come out on top.
The general consensus is that Brook boasts the superior power to Khan. When we take a look at their respective knockout records, Brook has 27 stoppages to Khan’s 21, albeit from three more outings, but in the grand scheme of things, they are just statistics for show.
All things considered, Brook carries his power longer into a fight, and has far more notable stoppages beyond the fourth round. That said, Khan is particularly dangerous at the start of fights, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he overwhelms and stops Brook during the opening sessions.
Given how Marcos Maidana fared during his career, it goes under the radar how impressive a feat it was that Khan floored the Argentine in the first round. Maidana’s toughness and desire somehow got him back to his feet, but that is an example of how Khan has the ability to explode out of the blocks.
When push comes to shove, Brook has the edge in this department, but it is far closer than people tend to believe.
The old adage of speed versus accuracy comes up here. Khan has the speed and the punches in bunches to trouble Brook, whereas the Yorkshire fighter’s accuracy has come to the fore on countless occasions in the past.
For us, both combatants will be comfortable with their respective skills and capabilities in this category. What could prove key is how Brook’s channels his emotions into a composed performance.
While we do side with him in the power stakes, Brook has his own vulnerabilities, and he would be taking an almighty risk if frustration and hatred for Khan leads to him deviating from his usual style.
Amir Khan during his defeat to Terence Crawford in 2019.
This is the area where things get interesting. Ever since the Breidis Prescott episode, Khan has been labelled as chinny, and that tag is justified given the amount of times that the Olympic silver medallist has been down and troubled during his career.
However, the damage to Brook’s eye socket in defeats to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jnr have undoubtedly taken their toll on how he is now viewed as a fighter. The manner of the finish against Terence Crawford in 2020 also added clout to Khan’s opinion that Brook’s punch resistance has gone.
That remains to be seen but whereas Brook was once far superior in this category, there are many reasons to believe that it is now 50-50. As stated earlier, it adds to the theory that an early Khan stoppage is not out of the question.
Many will side with Khan and understandably so. At his peak, there were few fighters in the world who were on a par with the Bolton man, but as his career has reached the latter stages, there have been more and more examples of Khan fighting in straight lines.
Given everything at stake and a couple of months training with Crawford and his team, you would expect that side of Khan’s game to be on point. However, he has to get rid of bad habits that have crept in over the past four or five years.
From Brook’s side, there has been talk of an issue with his ankle, but that may prove to be a blessing in disguise if it forces him to fight efficiently over going hell for leather from the opening bell.
Brook has always been a calculated, classy mover over being programmed to get in and out, and their varying styles only add to the sense of intrigue surrounding this fight.
Kell Brook during his fight with Gennady Golovkin in 2016.
As an amateur and professional, Khan has done it all. However, while he is now into his 17th year in the paid ranks, Khan’s glory days came over a decade ago.
On the flip side to having five world title defences before back-to-back defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, Khan has only challenged for a world title on two occasions since July 2012. Even if he lives his life in the spotlight, he has gone through a long period to have his best win being against Devon Alexander.
Brook has had seven world title fights, his three defeats coming to Golovkin, Spence Jnr and Crawford. Regardless of Khan constantly talking up his own CV, that is only three fewer fights at world level than Khan. See if you can name all 16 opponents by clicking here.
Khan has only fought in Great Britain on two occasions since April 2013, whereas Brook has competed 11 times over the same period.
In terms of belts, Khan has previously held the WBA and IBF belts at 140lbs, while his long-term rival has had the IBF welterweight crown around his waist in the past.
Remarkably, despite being in and around the same weight and their professional careers starting within 10 months of each other, Khan and Brook have only faced the same opponent on one occasion.
Crawford, who had not longed moved up to welterweight and was being denied fights with the bigger names, probably saw Khan and Brook as the perfect opponents during 2019 and 2020. They were not the names that the American would have wanted, but their names remained notable enough to attract attention.
In April 2019, Crawford dominated his fight with Khan, dropping him in the first round, before Khan opted not to continue after an accidental low blow in the sixth.
While Brook can claim to have held his own with Crawford in November of the following year, he was stopped in the fourth by a shot that was more accurate than it was powerful and the flurry that subsequently followed.
A common line that will be muttered over the coming days is that “anything can happen”. Although that is true to an extent, we cannot see this fight going the 12 rounds. In fact, we do not think that it reaches halfway.
That is down to a mixture of things, but none more so than each fighter’s susceptibility to power punches. When you throw hostility into the equation, it may only take a couple of highlight reel moments for this fight to conclude one way or another.
Maybe that is being harsh on Khan and Brook, but it is hard to draw a different conclusion based on their most recent outings. Who wins? We genuinely cannot pick a winner with any degree of certainty, but Brook gets our vote between rounds four to six if he can survive a fast start from Khan.