Is Amir Khan Ducking Kell Brook?

Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight title defense against Jo Jo Dan last Saturday has left him with a tantalizing list of potential opponents for summer 2015, but the name we most want to see next to his is not the one we will get. Amir Khan is adamant the British super-fight will happen, but in the meantime, he is attempting to create a chasm of defeat that Brook must leap over before he can land in the ring with the ‘King’.

This is a match all of England would embrace with much patriotic fanfare. Yorkshire man Brook has always been firmly rooted at Sheffield’s Ingle Boxing Gym, a well respected training ground opened by Brendan Ingle in 1964. Fighters such as Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, Ryan Rhodes, Junior Witter and Kid Galahad have been a part of its history. Meanwhile, Amir Khan fights out of Bolton, Lancashire. Thus Khan and Brook represent rival English counties – Yorkshire (White Rose) & Lancashire (Red Rose). The Welterweight Battle of the Roses is a must for British boxing. Froch vs Groves I & II set the bar, and soon we may have Frampton vs Quigg, if negotiations are done promptly. Brook vs Khan would be a fantastic way to end the year for an already eventful 2015.

Brook dominated Dan.

Brook’s mandatory defense win over Jo Jo Dan saw the champion perform with superb efficiency, and he appeared in phenomenal condition, considering he was stabbed in the leg shortly after defeating Shawn Porter for the title last August. Following the win, Brook announced his eagerness to defend his IBF title twice before the summer is up, with Brandon Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez mentioned as possible opponents. Meanwhile, Khan’s last performance was against Devon Alexander, who he dominated over the distance and it wasn’t the first time “King Khan” has made a highly rated opponent look average as a result of his blistering speed and accuracy.

On Thursday, Khan announced his next opponent would be Chris Algieri, who shot to the 140-pound limelight after an upset split decision victory over Siberian Rocky Ruslan Provodnikov in June last year. Algieri then faced Manny Pacquiao at 147, and was obliterated over the distance, suffering six knockdowns in the process. It seems Khan has picked a safe opponent instead of taking a chance with Brook. Algieri is the WBO light welterweight champion, and is certainly leagues below the ‘Pacquiaos and Mayweathers’ that Khan so desperately wants. Still, he has one helluva task if he aims to dispose of Algieri in a more convincing manner than Pacquiao did.

Brook defeats Porter.
Brook defeats Porter.

In a recent video, Khan dismissed a June fight with Brook due to the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which is set to begin on June 18, five days after promoter Eddie Hearn’s proposed date. The Bolton man has made it quite clear he wishes to target names bigger than Kell Brook (Chris Algieri?). Very few fighters outshine the jewels of a championship belt. At this moment in time, Amir Khan is not one of them. Speaking to Sky Sports News on Monday, Khan said:

“I’d love to go in the ring and fight Kell Brook, it could be his last fight against me, because the thing is, I’ll give him that much of a beating it could end up being his last fight. And maybe that’s why he wants it, because he knows that last fight against me will financially secure him for the rest of his life… It’s all about timing: if I’ve got a different route and I want to face the likes of the Mayweathers and Pacquiaos out there, then Kell Brook will have to wait.”

There appears to be no logic to Khan’s actions or statements here. He accuses Brook of wanting the fight for financial security, and then instantly mentions his eagerness to fight either of the two names that are never far from his lips. Three days later, he announces the Algieri fight and stands by his choice of opponent, stating on twitter that at least Algieri is a better opponent than “No No Dan.”

Brook seems genuinely exhilarated at the idea of fighting his domestic rival on home turf. Right now, Kell Brook is the legitimate IBF welterweight champion of the world, and apart from Khan and the MayPac participants, ranked fighters at 147 are desperate to rip that belt off The Special One’s waist. The likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios and rising star Keith Thurman are all dangerous potential opponents. And we can’t forget the dazzling performance Brook put on against tough Shawn Porter, who must be rated above Alexander or Algieri.

“Shawn is a good fighter,” said Khan. “But look at some of the guys I’ve fought. I have Garcia, Peterson, Devon Alexander, Judah, Maidana. I fought the top guys. He should be doing the same.”

Garcia and Peterson beat Khan, and he failed to mention Luis Collazo, Julio Diaz and Carlos Molina who make up 75% of his last four opponents, none of who presented any serious threat. Neither will Algieri.

“No one in America knows who Kell Brook is,” Khan goes on to say. “Whereas Amir Khan…I can’t walk the streets now, it’s getting crazy. Everyone knows Amir Khan.” As if this has anything to do with Kell Brook’s worthiness as an opponent.

Is this a match-up to get excited about?
Is this a match-up to get excited about?

Khan’s growing ego could be his downfall. He is in great danger of neglecting his British boxing fans whilst Brook’s gutsy approach to being champion is snowballing support from not only both sides of the Pennines, but of the Atlantic too.

And when comparing the two, one must ask: who really deserves a shot at the May 2 winner?

For the sake of the welterweight division, a unification fight after MayPac makes total sense, and could coincide nicely with Mayweather’s final fight with Showtime television, if he emerges victorious. In my eyes, Brook is more deserving because he has the belt.

If Khan had opted for the all-British mega-fight before Ramadan and won, he would be lined up to meet the winner of Mayweather vs Pacquiao. However, maybe Khan is overlooking Brook because if he loses, which is a possibility, his career may never make it back over the pond. Whatever his thinking, there’s no doubt that Brook represents a serious risk for Khan, one he does not want to take at this juncture. Both fighters are adamant that this showdown will happen, so in the meantime all we boxing fans can do, is what we do best: wait.      – Sherif Dhaimish


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