It’s a headliner quite possibly a few years overdue this Saturday night at the Manchester Arena, as Amir Khan and Kell Brook finally meet in an attraction set for 12 rounds at a catchweight of 149 pounds.
Sky Sports Box Office televise Khan vs Brook live in the UK, whilst ESPN+ hold the USA rights on a card promoted by BOXXER.
The pair have exchanged hostilities for a number of years now, in a rivalry stretching as back a number of years. The two are arguably past their best versions of themselves, with both suffering damaging defeats in the past, and that makes this contest an intriguing one.
Khan (34-5, 21 KOs) turned professional in a blaze of glory in 2005 after a groundbreaking 2004 Olympic Silver medal, and, after a stunning 54 second defeat to Breidis Prescott, he moved up in weight to become WBA super lightweight champion in 2009, outscoring Andriy Kotelnik.
Five defences followed against quality opposition, before Khan was controversially on the wrong end of a split decision to Lamont Peterson in a bid to unify. Khan was reinstated as champion due to Peterson failing a post-fight drug test, but his next fight saw him knocked out in four by Danny Garcia in a challenge to add the WBC belt to his collection.
The Bolton man rebounded with five wins, including a gradual move to welterweight, and then dared for greatness, moving up to middleweight, where he started well against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, before the Mexican scored a highlight reel sixth round knockout.
Two low-key wins set up a shot at WBO champion, Terence Crawford in April 2019, but ‘King’ was down in the opener, and outclassed, eventually refusing to continue after a low shot and stopped in six.
The 35-year-old was last out three months later, stopping Billy Dib in four in Saudi Arabia.
With a lack of options for both at world level, Khan and Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) now face each other. Brook won the IBF welterweight title in 2014 with a superb win over Shawn Porter, and three defences followed, but his bravery is possibly what started his slide, as he jumped two weight classes to holding his own before being stopped by Gennady Golovkin in 2016.
The Sheffield man suffered eye damage, and moved back down, only to suffer another significant injury to his other eye, losing his welterweight belt to Errol Spence Jr via 11th round knockout.
‘Special K’ flirted with super welterweight, and a change in trainers, and he had three wins before dropping down to also challenge Terence Crawford at the back end of 2020.
The 35-year-old started well, but Crawford soon took over, and halted him in four.
Khan will be under the tutelage of Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre for the first time, and he will know both men as trainer of Terence Crawford.
Brook returns to Dominic Ingle after a brief stint under John Fewkes for a lacklustre win over Michael Zerafa in 2018 and Carlos Formento for his loss to Crawford. Each pound over the weight for either man reportedly comes with a £100,000 per pound fine.
Prediction: I really feel that this will be a shootout, with both wanting to establish their power early on. I think both could be wobbled, and there could well be an exchange of knockdowns.
With the pair coming to the end of their careers, it’s hard to say what each has left, and I will tentatively pick Khan to score a knockout win within four to six rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
Jonas challenges for world title at 154lbs
Natasha Jonas will hope to make it third time lucky, as she challenges for the vacant WBO super welterweight title against Uruguay’s Chris Namus.
Jonas (10-2-1, 7 KOs) challenges for world honours at a third different weight, having drawn with Terri Harper in a challenge for the WBC and IBO super featherweight titles in 2020, and then pushing Katie Taylor all the way last May, losing by one point on two cards while fighting for the undisputed lightweight crown.
Namus (25-6, 8 KOs) steps in for Ewa Piatkowska, who withdrew due to COVID-19. Namus is a former IBF champion, but hasn’t been in action since October 2020, losing over ten to Ema Kozin, who was routed by Claressa Shields earlier this month.
Prediction: Jonas should be able to take a decision win.
Schofield defends English strap
Charlie Schofield defends his English super middleweight title for the first time, with Germaine Brown in the opposite corner.
Schofield (17-1, 1 KO) lost by a point to Mickey Ellison in 2019, but then won the vacant English belt in a rematch with a comfortable unanimous decision.
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Brown (11-0, 3 KOs) is in good form and looked good outscoring Jamal LeDoux at the back end of 2020.
Prediction: I favour Brown to take a points win.
Bradley Rea (11-0, 4 KOs) can take a points win in his eight rounder against Ireland’s Craig McCarthy (8-0-1, 2 KOs) at middleweight.
Viddal Riley (4-0, 2 KOs) should be able to stop Willbeforce Shihepo (25-13, 18 KOs) in their cruiserweight contest, and Adam Azim (2-0, 1 KO) can do the same in his lightweight meeting with Jordan Ellison (13-35-2, 1 KO).
Hassan Azim (1-0, 1 KO) may need the distance to take care of MJ Hall (2-73-2) at welterweight, and at super featherweight, Ibrahim Nadim (5-0) will likely need the cards to defeat Taka Bembere (1-22, 1 KO).
Abdul Khan (2-0) can bank a points win against Ricky Starkey (2-20-2).
2020 Olympic Bronze Medallist, Frazer Clarke makes an eagerly awaited debut against an opponent to be confirmed.