According to ESPN.com’s UK outlet, the escalating war of words between former WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion Amir Khan and welterweight contender Kell Brook is apparently leading to the prospect of something tangible:
Brook's promoter, Eddie Hearn, believes the contest is almost ‘inevitable’, saying that he hopes by the time the fight is made Brook will be able to put his IBF welterweight world title on the line.”
The trash-talk between a former champion coming off of a devastating knockout loss and skilled yet unproven contender is somewhat presumptuous and unproductive for two fighters who have serious business to take care of in their respective upcoming fights.
Furthermore, Hearn’s proclamations about the prospect of a Khan-Brook fight have already entered the realm of hyperbole:
“The first indications from their [Khan’s] team is that they really want this fight. This is one of those super-fights that could take British boxing to a new level. These are the fights we want to take.”
While a Khan-Brook fight would sell well in the UK, it is hardly worthy of being labeled a “super-fight,” and at this juncture, it is certainly not the kind of bout that will elevate or impact boxing beyond its domestic scene in the UK, which will continue to flourish regardless of whether Khan (26-3, 18 KO) and Brook (28-0, 18 KO) face off against each other.
The impact or importance of this fight is purely hypothetical, and its viability hinges on whether each man can win his next fight or two.
Controversial split decision loss to Lamont Peterson aside, Khan has lost two fights in a row, and his most recent setback was a brutal knockout loss to Danny Garcia in a fight Khan was favored to win. With his return bout set for December 15 against career lightweight Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KO), Khan must ensure that he looks confident and impressive.
Having hired reigning Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter to work his corner after parting ways with Freddie Roach, Khan will undoubtedly be adding new wrinkles to his game. A win against Molina—should Khan elect to stay at 140 pounds—could lead to another title shot, and reasserting himself at the championship level before moving up to welterweight would do much to repair his reputation.
That said, Khan, given his credentials, has earned the right to use Molina as a stepping-stone for an immediate fight against Brook if he so chooses. Brook, on the other hand, does not have that kind of flexibility with his upcoming slate.
In order to realistically secure a meaningful fight against Khan, Brook must claim the IBF welterweight title. Brook’s upcoming elimination bout against the relatively obscure Hector David Saldivia (41-2, 32 KO) shouldn’t cause much distress, but the prospect of Brook then facing either Randall Bailey or Devon Alexander is far more intriguing.
While Bailey is one of the best pound-for-pound punchers in the sport and can thus never be counted out of a fight, Brook would certainly be the favorite given his advantages in speed and boxing ability. Also, Brook is the more significant draw and would likely be able to challenge for the title in England as a result.
However, should Alexander wrest the IBF title from Bailey (which is a distinct possibility), Brook would find himself in a fight where he wouldn’t be favored and where he wouldn’t necessarily have the hometown advantage. Because Alexander has a fanbase in St. Louis, he brings negotiating chips to the table that Bailey cannot match.
Brook has a glossy record, but does own some solid wins over the likes of Lovemore Ndou, Rafal Jackiewicz, Matthew Hatton and Carson Jones. While these wins are respectable, Brook has not fought and defeated anyone at the championship level the way Khan has; on top of that, Brook struggled to hold on against Jones, though he did show tremendous heart.
Should Brook capture the IBF strap, the storylines heading into a fight against Khan would be that much more compelling. Could Brook defend his title against a former champion? Could Khan capture a world title in a second weight class?
At this stage, Khan is a fighter on the mend and Brook is a boxer who has yet to test himself at the elite level. Until both alter the perception fans and pundits presently have of them, a Khan-Brook fight would be a significant UK bout, and nothing more.
That said, with a few consecutive quality wins for each man, Khan vs. Brook might soon be a fight all boxing fans are begging for.
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