Having comprehensively beaten Frankie Gavin on Saturday night, Kell Brook claimed he was bored with talking about a fight against Amir Khan. His promoter, Eddie Hearn, added he had also “lost the passion” for that bout.
The message was clear: it’s time to move on. Only they cannot do so, as was evident from the words they expressed, many of them passionate, when the pair sat together later. It’s obvious – they want Khan and they want him now.
Brook-Khan is a domestic humdinger that has been spoken about for years but rarely, if ever, looked like happening. It’s the itch British boxing cannot scratch and for Brook an assignment that has taken on almost obsessive proportions. Having now twice defended his IBF welterweight title, the 29-year-old feels emboldened enough to dictate terms to the rival he cannot reach, and through his mouthpiece they came firmly and clearly.
“We’re due to fight again in August, but if we knew we could get the Khan fight sorted for the end of September/early October, we’d wait,” said Hearn. “But we ain’t got long. We’ve probably got a week until we get Kell’s next opponent signed. It’s all about momentum.”
Khan has based himself in the US in the hope of landing a legacy-defining date with Floyd Mayweather Jr but that contest continues to remain out of reach, and having required a points decision to get past the game but ultimately limited Chris Algieri in front of a modest New York crowd on Friday night the 28-year-old may have reflected on a fight with Brook and thought the time is right to come home and make it happen. For sure a clash with Brook would catch the public’s imagination and, possibly, sell like no other in British boxing history. As Hearn said: “It would have to be at the Millennium Stadium, with the roof on.”
“We’ve offered them $5m but they don’t even want to talk terms,” added the promoter. “Well don’t have it on my terms – I won’t even come out. I’ll sit in the dressing room. I don’t care. I just want to see the fight, because it would be so sweet.”
Brook insists Khan is running scared. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but perhaps for the first time in their at-a-distance rivalry it is the man from Sheffield who is in the ascendency. Now undefeated in 35 fights, he has looked supreme as a world champion, disposing of the Romanian Jo Jo Dan inside four rounds in March and Gavin inside six at the weekend.
The Birmingham southpaw caused Brook some problems initially but the champion was always in control and ultimately showed his superior power, punch accuracy and class, with a barrage of shots at his opponent as he was pinned against the ropes leading to the referee, Steve Gray, calling an end to proceedings in the final minute of the round.
Should a fight with Khan not happen then, as Hearn intimated, Brook will fight next in August – 29 August to be precise – with Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane a mooted venue and Brandon Rios a possible opponent. Win that and Brook could bypass Khan altogether and make it to Mayweather himself in a bout that would unify the welterweight division.
“Kell would beat Amir Khan [to Mayweather] in May 2016,” insisted Hearn. “No doubt about that.”Also on Saturday, Lee Selby delivered a highly impressive display to win the IBF featherweight title from the Russian Evgeny Gradovich on a unanimous points decision. There was heartbreak for Kevin Mitchell, however, after he was stopped in the 10th round of his WBC lightweight clash with Jorge Linares.
The 30-year-old sustained severe swelling to the left eye and despite delivering an incredibly brave performance – and leading on two of the judges’ scorecards – he was deemed unfit to go on after falling to his knee following attacks from the champion in the corner of the ring.
Anthony Joshua also made it 13 wins out of 13 as a professional heavyweight after he beat Kevin Johnson inside two rounds. This was meant to be Joshua’s toughest test since he turned pro after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics, with Johnson having never been stopped in his 36-fight career. But he pummelled the American right from the off. Joshua has yet to be taken past three rounds as a pro but Hearn insisted the 25-year-old remains on track to become a world champion and could contest for a title in the next 12 months.
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