Amir Khan didn’t feel the need to explain why his years-long rivalry with Kell Brook is only now making its way to a ring.
The all-British grudge match between former major titlists is official for February 19, airing live on Sky Sports Box Office from AO Arena in Manchester. The bout was discussed for nearly a decade, though never advancing beyond talk and occasional insults traded through the media. Both boxers have faced some of the best in the sport over that period, with Khan having done so at junior welterweight, welterweight and middleweight.
“There was a time in the past I didn’t think he deserved the fight,” Khan admitted while discussing the long-awaited clash. “Now it’s come to a stage where I want to give him a good shot in the face and put him in his place. That’s what it’s all about, end of day.
“All that talk is being given. Come February 19, we’re going to see what he’s gonna do, if he can back them words up.”
Khan (34-5, 21KOs) has faced fourteen former or current titlists over the course of his sixteen-year career following his Silver medal run in the 2004 Athens Olympics. The fighting pride of Bolton, England—who turns 35 in December—made his way to unified title status at junior welterweight before suffering back-to-back losses to Lamont Peterson and then-unbeaten Danny Garcia.
A valiant run at welterweight failed to produce a second title run, as did a challenge of then-lineal/WBC middleweight title Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a May 2016 sixth-round knockout loss at a 155-pound catchweight. Alvarez currently serves as the undisputed super middleweight champion and pound-for-pound king, with Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (38-0, 29KOs) also regarded as high among the best in the world ahead of his April 2019 WBO welterweight title defending stoppage of Khan at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
For whatever reason, Khan never bothered to look in the direction of Sheffield’s Brook (39-3, 27KOs) even during his near three-year IBF welterweight title reign. Brook was seemingly willing to take the fight during that time, and again when the two were seemingly on a collision course in 2019. Brook had already moved up to junior middleweight by then, though has since dropped back down to welterweight where he was stopped by Crawford inside of four rounds last November.
“I fought two of the best pound-for-pound fighters. Yeah, I got beat but I’m still fighting the best out there,” Khan noted. “Never ran from Kell, never needed to. Obviously, what I’ve achieved in this sport speaks for itself. We’re here now. There’s no point crying about the past.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox