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Amir Khan and Kell Brook may have waited until after their prime years to test their long-standing rivalry but, in a tense briefing where it was made official that they will finally face each other in Manchester on February 19, they showed why this grudge fight remains a major moment for British boxing.
Khan insisted that Brook was “jealous” and “spiteful” of his success while the Sheffield fighter claimed his rival “had been running from me for years” as the two men almost came to blows the instant they were face to face at the Park Lane Hilton in London.
Now both in their mid-thirties with respected and decorated careers behind them, the pair indulged in a long session of barracking the other, with Khan insistent that he would “school” his rival, while Brook, his emotions running high, expressed his desire to knock the former Olympic silver medallist and that it would be “a fight in a phone booth”.
The bragging rights box office fight - to be aired on Sky’s pay per view arm - has been set at a catchweight of 149 pounds with a “six figure fine” in the contract per pound over the weight, Brook revealed.
Ben Shalom, chief executive of promoters Boxxer, disclosed on Monday that it had taken five months to get the contest over the line. “It was a long, hard and very difficult fight to get over the line, but we now have a fight which is full of legacy for both fighters,” he said.
“They are both by a long way the very best welterweights in Britain and had they not fought, it would have been a great loss because this is a fight the fans have always wanted to see.”
Khan, who will train with Terence Crawford and his coach Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre in Nebraska and then Colorado Springs will leave for the United States today. He explained: “No one has ever disliked me this much in my life. I don’t think it is hatred, but Kell has always been jealous of my success going back to when I schooled him in the ring when we sparred as amateurs. I was the one who went to the Olympics and I could have beaten him then with one hand tied behind my back.”
“That’s why I’m getting the lion’s share [of the purse],” revealed Khan, 35 next week, from Bolton. It is understood that the multi-million pound fight could see Khan earn £5 million and Brook £3 million.
Brook, meanwhile, revealed that he had had to make concessions to make the fight happen. “I have got a fair share but this fight was done five months ago and he just kept coming back with little problems and issues to move the goalposts, he always wanted another pound note or pound in weight.”
He added: “Everyone knows making the weight will hurt me but I will make it happen because I could not have left the sport without having fought him. Hate is a strong word, I just really don’t like him and it is real because of how he has treated me over the years, and the feelings are real. It has built up over time because of how he has given me no respect and never acknowledged what I have achieved. He has been backed into a corner now and nobody wants to see him in any other fight - either here or in America. This is the biggest fight out there for him and he has been pushed in the corner to take.”
“I don’t need to fight again, I live within my means, I am not like him and his wife flying first class everywhere. I am a council estate kid with plenty of millions so settling a grudge and giving it to the fans is what I am doing it for.”
Both men are past their prime, and no belt is on the line, yet the deep rivalry and enmity between the two men will make it a championship of each other, and still deeply intriguing. Khan, formerly the WBA and IBF light-welterweight champion fought last in July 2019 when a victory over Billy Dib took his record to 34 wins, five defeats, with 21 knockouts. Brook, from Sheffield, who held the IBF welterweight world title, was last in action in an unsuccessful WBO welterweight challenge against one of the pound for pound kings Crawford in Las Vegas in November last year, bringing his record to 39 wins, three losses, with 27 knockouts. Brook had split with trainer Dominic Ingle ahead of the Crawford fight, but reunites with the Wincobank Gym coach for this contest.