By Jake Donovan
From the moment news leaked of a proposed opportunity to face unbeaten welterweight titlist Terence Crawford next March, many in the industry lauded Amir Khan for his career-long willingness to take on all comers.
However, you can count Kell Brook among the few not quite impressed with the Brit’s in-ring pursuits—and for several good reasons.
In a story first broken by the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, Khan revealed that plans for his next superfight wouldn’t be that of a long awaited showdown with longtime in-country rival Brook but a trip to New York’s Madison Square Garden to face the reigning pound-for-pound king in Crawford. The news stings in more ways than one, as it came at the start of fight week for Brook, who faces Michael Zerefa this Saturday at home in Sheffield, England.
The show lands on Khan’s 32nd birthday, which promoter Eddie Hearn hoped to help the former 140-pound titlist celebrate with the reveal of a superfight with Brook finally occurring in 2019. However, Khan—while still considering the lucrative offer from Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum—instantly spoiled those plans with a doubly stinging announcement of his own, that he won’t be in attendance and is more likely to head back to the United States for his next fight.
“Fighting for a pound-for-pound title would be amazing,” Khan (33-4, 20KOs) told the Daily Mail on Monday of his desire to face Crawford over Brook. “To win it would be even better, so I think I’m in a position where I can get that fight with the pound-for-pound champion.
“The Brook fight is always going to be there. It’s for no title, whereas I’m getting offered a world title and the pound-for-pound title. So why not?”
His countryman is more than happy to explain.
“It’s not [going to be there],” Brook (37-2, 26KOs) insisted in a recent interview with BBC Sport. “I am going to go after the big names in America and the fights all the fans want. I am going to do my thing. I don’t need him at all.”
The offer on the table for Khan is reportedly a $5 million guarantee, with incentives as a showdown with Crawford—if finalized—would land on Pay-Per-View as distributed by ESPN. It would also mark a return to the site of Khan’s stateside debut, as his first U.S fight came in a May ’10 stoppage win over Paul Malignaggi at MSG Theatre (now the Hulu Theatre).
Khan has fought 10 times overall in the U.S., his last trip abroad coming in a 6th round knockout loss to middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their May ’16 155-pound catchweight bout. He returned to the ring this past April, having won a pair of tune-up bouts atop shows promoted by Hearn with whom he joined forces earlier this year.
Their partnership was designed to lead to an eventual collision with Brook, but piecing together such an event has proven problematic, to say the least. The loss to Alvarez undoubtedly still resonates with Khan, who has demanded a rehydration clause be in place for a clash with Brook, a former welterweight titlist who is now campaigning in the super welterweight division.
Brook agreed to come down to welterweight for such a fight, but thus far has refused to commit to a rehydration cap. Khan has demanded a second-day weigh-in where neither boxer can gain more than 10 pounds from the contracted weight, whereas Brook’s position is that his coming down to the 147-pound limit is already a major concession.
It appeared as if both sides would find common ground in order to deliver good news this weekend. However, a window of opportunity for Khan to look elsewhere came when it was revealed by BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec that Crawford’s reported March 23 MSG headliner versus Luis Collazo wasn’t quite finalized.
Collazo—a former welterweight titlist whom Khan dominated in a May ’14 clash in Las Vegas—had long ago agreed to terms to make the short trek from Brooklyn to MSG. Crawford and his team, on the other hand, had been vocal in demands for bigger fights, and seemed convinced that something better was out there.
Such desire prompted Top Rank—who’d previously sought the services of former two-division titlist Danny Garcia for Crawford—to go after Khan, who seemingly has no problem walking away from a far more lucrative grudge match with Brook.
Should he agree to terms to face Crawford, it could be his last guaranteed big fight.
“I would like to have announced our fight in the ring and give fans an early Christmas present,” revealed Brook, who seeks his second win following a welterweight title reign-ending knockout loss to Errol Spence last May. “But it does not look like it will happen. It looks like he has run off again.
“I have done everything in my powers for it to happen. It is him who has let the public down. (But) it’s not the end of the world and I will move on. I am more established at welterweight being world champion. I will be hunting these guys and the weight above at light middleweight.”