Amir Khan has claimed Eddie Hearn offered him £10m to fight Kell Brook, before cutting that figure significantly during negotiations. Khan will instead challenge the middleweight champion Saúl Álvarez in the defining fight of his career.
Khan shocked the boxing world this week by announcing he will face Álvarez for the WBC world middleweight title on 7 May in Las Vegas. The Bolton fighter had been in negotiations with Brook but will instead step up in weight and face a man who has lost only once in his professional career, and that against Floyd Mayweather. Brook, meanwhile, will make the third defence of his IBF welterweight title against Kevin Bizier.
Khan’s team had been in negotiations last year with Hearn, Brook’s promoter, regarding a potential “Battle of Britain” between the pair. In January, Hearn wrote in a tweet, since deleted, that Khan had asked for an 80% share of the purse but the 29-year-old claims an original offer of £10m was cut.
“I was offered by Eddie Hearn £10m, when I was at a fight in Liverpool. That’s what I stuck to and as soon as I said: ‘That’s what I want for the fight,’ everyone turned against me and said I was overvaluing myself. He said: ‘You can make £10m if you take the fight against Kell Brook.’ Coming back to negotiations, they said: ‘We can’t offer you that much.’ It was nowhere near that number.”
In January, Hearn tweeted: “He [Khan’s lawyer] asked for a £10m guarantee with upside to fight Brook with Kell getting approx £2-2.5m. After I spat my coffee out we said no thanks. Enough of the insults. We will make this easy for you: 60-40 in your favour (Kell is world champ) and you have it.”
Álvarez, known as Canelo, is regarded as the next boxing superstar and the 25-year-old has knocked out 32 of his 48 opponents. The fight, promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, is Álvarez’s first defence of the title he won in November against Miguel Cotto.
Khan believes he will have to draw on the underdog spirit of his Athens Olympics breakthrough 12 years ago, stepping up from welterweight to a catch weight of 155lb against Álvarez, and said he would be calling on those Olympic memories against the Mexican.
“Obviously Canelo is one of the best fighters in the world, one of the most dangerous fighters in the world that not many people would say yes to fight. That’s the type of guy I am, I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me and whatever makes sense. I think it will bring out the best in me, whenever you go into a fight as an underdog you want to prove people wrong,” said Khan.
“This reminds me of the Olympics when I was 17 and a lot of people said I was going to get beaten up and not get through the first round. I went and proved everybody wrong and just fell short in the final. When Oscar asked me if I wanted to take the fight, I said: ‘In a heartbeat.’
“I’ve got a lot of advantages on my side, I’ve got the speed and I’m going to bring a lot of power.
“I’ve got too much pride to go into a fight thinking that someone is going to beat me, or going in to a fight just for the money. I’d never do that, that’s not the type of guy I am. I really believe I can make history.”
De La Hoya said: “It’s taking boxing back to the roots of what it should be, fighting for pride and fighting for history. He [Khan] wants to show that he’s the very best, that’s what boxing was when I was fighting, when Tyson was fighting, when Mohammed Ali was fighting.”
The 155lb catchweight is eight pounds heavier than Khan’s weight for his last fight against Chris Algieri in May last year, and if he wins he will be only the fourth Briton to secure the middleweight title.
On the challenge of moving up in weight, Khan said: “I think the weight issue is going to add excitement. It is two different size guys and I’ve seen in boxing many times where the smaller guy has come through and won the fight. I’m at my peak now and I’m going to show the world how good Amir Khan is.
“I’m going to be at a good weight, I’m working on the strength side. I’m going to be happy and comfortable at the weight. I’m going into the fight with no pressure, not killing myself making the weight. It’s a fight for me to prove myself.”
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