Ben Shalom may be strutting around today overly content that he’s got one of British boxing’s biggest rivalries over the line.
Essentially a newcomer to boxing, Shalom has managed what more high-profile promoters before him couldn’t achieve by making Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook, a 15-year feud, a reality. The pair meet on February 19th next year and Shalom will be the man staging it.
It shouldn’t have been this difficult to get Khan and Brook in the ring. Both talented, charismatic, and confident, this was a dream fight for British boxing at multiple stages in each man’s career and that included fighting for domestic supremacy early on or the pair competing against each other for a world title during their possible peaks around 2014.
Brook being the bigger man during the infancies of their careers could perhaps have been a factor scuppering any potential match, but for the majority of their respective times in the ring, it would’ve only took a move up or down from either boxer to get this match official. In 2022, 18 years after Khan won the hearts of a nation, it’s happening.
This battle should've been a contest that made Frank Warren or Eddie Hearn a lot of money but for numerous reasons, the two promoters, probably through no fault of their own, couldn’t strike a deal for the pair to meet when fighting under their promotional umbrellas. A ready-made fight pitting Lancashire against Yorkshire never came close until now and the original narrative has taken many wild turns since.
A fight to see who Britain’s leading prospect or best welterweight is is now a drawn-out saga that includes a range of characters ranging from Gennadiy Golovkin to Terence Crawford. This isn’t a fight to see who’s the best man out of the two because the best version of each warrior doesn’t exist anymore, and it hasn’t been around for quite a while now.
When that first bell sounds in around 12 weeks, shadows of Khan and Brook will engage in combat years past the fight’s relevance and likely even longer past both their primes. Imagine this engagement immediately following Brook’s narrow win over Shawn Porter when Khan was handing out schoolings to Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander.
What about 2016, when both men chose to be bounced around the ring by middleweights rather than taking on each other? Khan’s knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez was sickening while Brook’s surrender to Golovkin saw him sustain damage to his eye socket that was still a major hindrance the following year when losing to Errol Spence Jr.
Both men bolstered their finances despite the one-sided manner of their defeats, but the damage done rendered both useless at the elite level they had been accustomed to. With both suffering weak stoppage losses to Crawford before the halfway point, any potential fight between Khan and Brook appeared to lose its appeal but due to the length of their constant bickering, it looks like people aren't ready to give up on it just yet.
At the press conference to formally announce the February encounter, Khan and Brook teased each other on a variety of subjects including who lost to Crawford better. Despite both being nowhere near the standard that conquered talent-laden divisions, it’s obvious that this is a contest people are eager to see judging from reactions following the presser’s aftermath.
A tense head-to-head followed by multiple teasers have given this fight a big feeling. Shalom and Sky Sports deserve huge credit for that. The new partnership are still in their early days as a promoter/broadcaster relationship and they’ll be patting themselves on the back for finally getting two of British boxing’s biggest names at the top table of a press conference.
This fight will deliver on many fronts. It will do a solid buy rate, it will provide boxing fans with a memorable night, and it’ll get Khan and Brook exchanging hostilities under the bright lights.
The biggest question surrounding these great adversaries has always been who is the best fighter out of the pair?
Unfortunately, we’ll be no wiser after the event, no matter what the result is.