AMIR KHAN claims he has finally thrown Kell Brook a bone – the Sheffield ace insists he has backed Bolton’s golden boy into a corner.
The truth over why 34-year-old Khan has finally agreed to face his 35-year-old welterweight rival – 17 years after their rivalry began – will remain a big-money mystery.
The bout would have been red-hot around 2011-2012 when both were on red-hot streaks.
But, following many highs, crushing defeats and dubious endings, both men need to go back to 2015 for their last meaningful win.
Yet on February 19, 2022 we will finally see the two middle-aged millionaires punch each other after months of trash talk.
Brook insists the deal for BOXXER to promote the Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view was done around July but Team Khan kept moving the goalposts, grabbing a larger slice of the purse or changing the catchweight limit.
The bout will be contested at 149lbs, which is just 2lbs above the 147lbs welterweight limit they have both campaigned at most recently.
Khan’s only world title wins came down at the light-welter limit of 140 but he has been a 10st 7lbs fighter since 2014.
More importantly for the 2004 Athens Olympic silver winner, he knows Brook goes through hell to boil his imposing 5ft 9in frame down to the welter limit.
Before Brook won the British welterweight title in 2008, he had spent the first four years of his career regularly fighting over 10st 7lbs limit.
So now, with no world title belts on the line or sanction bodies to enforce punishments for Brook missing the new 10st 9lbs catchweight, Khan will fine Brook £100,000 for every 1lbs he comes in over.
Ruthless King Khan confirmed: “The fight is at 149lbs because Kell Brook could not make 147lbs.
“If I had said no to the weight limit I would have got the blame again so I have allowed him that but there are extreme financial penalties if he misses weight.”
Brook insists he will dehydrate and starve himself one final time, just for the chance to get his hands on the man who beat him to an Olympic spot.
Khan insists he was so advanced of Brook in their schoolboy and novice days that he would spar with just one hand to offer the Ingle-gym star a chance, which Brook disputes.
One thing Brook will not argue with is that he has conceded that Khan is the A-side of the fight and is taking the lion’s share of the ticket and PPV sales.
Khan’s face and name appear first on the poster, as does a logo for his promotional company.
Brook is the B-side but insists he could not put a price on retiring without laying a glove on his nemesis.
He said: “I have got a fair share but this fight was done five months ago and he just kept coming back with little problems and issues to move the goalposts, he always wanted another pound note or pound in weight.
“Everyone knows making the weight will hurt me but I will make it happen because I could not have left the sport without having fought him.”
Fans are split as to whether this is a brilliant final chapter in two iconic careers, or a grubby cash-out that could leave either veteran seriously harmed.
Eddie Hearn, who guided Brook’s career expertly until he jilted him to fight Terence Crawford in 2020, failed a handful of times to make the bout – but never for the want of trying.
In 2018 the Matchroom boss lured Khan back from his four-fight run in America for two headline slots on Sky Sports shows, that Khan won in exciting fashion.
They should have teed up the Brook fight for 2019 but Khan then shot off back to the US to lose to Crawford – another glorious open goal missed.
Now BOXXER – the new promotional brand on Sky after Hearn took his stable to streaming app DAZN – has raided their coffers to make it.
SunSport understands Matchroom are frustrated they were never offered the funds to make the bout when Sky were with them.
But BOXXER and Sky needed to make a marquee fight after Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Williams was delayed due to injury, following similarly collapsed or delayed fights for Lewis Ritson, Savannah Marshall and Josh Taylor.
The press conference was a surprise success, the was a genuine confrontation that did not spiral into a fracas and the trash-talk was spiteful without being distasteful.
Khan and Brook managed to agree on one thing and that was the shared belief that outside Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury, their bout is the biggest all-British fight in the ether.
That remains to be seen but these two have definitely shown the generation trying to follow them how to gain and retain a fanbase.
Both men have dared to be in great fights, both have always engaged regularly and honestly with the media.
There are younger, fresher, more promising names on the rise behind them now but Brook and Khan are keeping them out of the spotlight for another few months at least.
Hopefully February 19 comes around quickly, without any injuries or delays, and this bonafide bitter grudge is settled.
Both men deserve a great send-off and so do the fans who have suffered through some of the filler fights that have padded out their records and wallets leading up to this retirement showdown.
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