For aging and faded boxers, sometimes all it takes is finding a spark in the form of a rivalry to bring out one last shred of their former skills. That gentle, brief resurrection of talent is what Amir Khan and Kell Brook hope to produce when they square off Saturday at the AO Arena in Manchester, England (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
The Khan-Brook fight is overdue in the eyes of most, the product of a rivalry that dates back to the beginning of both men’s careers. Despite years of bickering and bad blood, the fight never manifested, with bigger and better things always available. That is no longer true, and there is no bigger fight available to either man than finally getting in the ring against each other.
Khan has always struggled with issues related to his chin, a huge liability that has left him on the receiving end of brutal knockouts, sometimes against the best names in the sport, such as Canelo Alvarez, and sometimes against fighters on the level of Breidis Prescott. At his best, Khan’s skills have been enough to overcome the fragility of his chin and he has been able to produce a tremendous career in spite of it, including a run as a unified champion at super lightweight.
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about both men. Khan’s chin is one of the most fragile of the top fighters of his generation and is only getting worse as he approaches the 40th fight of his career. Brook has his own punch resistance issues and has had to undergo surgical repairs to both eye sockets in the last few years of his career. Khan has the edge, but this is not the best time for either man. Brook has always wanted this fight more than Khan and that may be enough to tilt the fight in his direction. If Khan can survive some early aggression from Brook, he may be able to pull away down the stretch. With Khan’s chin, that’s a big if. Pick: Kell Brook by TKO5