IBHOF inductee and boxing betting expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s fascinating, better-late-than-never clash between long-time rivals Kell Brook and Amir Khan.
The fight that was years in the making finally happens on Saturday when Kell Brook meets his bitter domestic rival Amir Khan in Manchester on Sky Sports Box Office. It’s a scheduled 12-rounder and both men weighed inside the catchweight limit of 149 pounds.
Trying to pick a winner is exceptionally difficult because no one can really be sure how much these fighters have left.
Brook looked good physically on the scales but his face looked, I thought, a little gaunt. Let’s not forget that Brook has boxed as a middleweight and junior middleweight. The weight cut surely can’t have been easy although the Brook camp would have you believe otherwise.
I thought Khan looked strong and healthy on the scales. He looked, to me, the more confident of the two boxers.
Brook is the 4/6 (-150) favourite at Betfred. If you like Khan’s chances, Betfred offers him at 11/8 (+140).
Brook is back with long-time trainer Dom Ingle and says he’s been in training for months and is in the best condition he could possibly be in. Khan, seeking fresh input, travelled to the States to train with Brian “Bomac” McAdams at high altitude in Colorado, alongside Terence Crawford.
It’s interesting that Crawford has made the trip to the UK to lend moral support to his old opponent Khan, who he stopped in six rounds at Madison Square Garden three years ago. Crawford subsequently stopped Brook, of course, in the fourth round in Las Vegas in November 2020. That was Brook’s last fight. Khan, meanwhile, has boxed just once in the past three years, an easy fourth-round TKO win over an outclassed Billy Dib.
Both Brook and Khan are 35 and obviously not the fighters they once were. And this is what makes the fight such a tough one to try to predict.
We all know that Khan’s chin is highly suspect. Brook is considered the puncher in the fight. But I was quite alarmed at the way Brook just “went” in the fourth round against Crawford. For three rounds, Brook was doing well. But Crawford gradually ramped up the pressure and in the fourth round he switched to the southpaw stance and landed a right hand — half-jab, half- hook — and Brook simply came apart at the seams, totally gone.
Weight cuts, moving up and down in weight, suffering a broken eye socket in consecutive fights against Gennadiy Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr respectively, it all seemed to catch up with Brook in that fourth round against Crawford.
And there were signs as far back as December 2018 that Brook was in decline when he gave a “flat” performance against Aussie Michael Zerafa. Although Brook won widely on the scorecards it seemed to me that Zerafa was catching him too easily for comfort.
Khan has been stopped four times and he’s been dropped in fights that he won, but at this stage of his career Brook looks equally vulnerable. Each man is capable of hurting the other.
For those undecided who will win, Betfred offers a wide range of proposition bets. For instance, fight to go the full distance is offered at 13/8 (+160) while if you feel that the bout won’t reach the final bell you’re looking at 1/2 (-200).
I lean towards the fight not going the distance. Khan was once exceptionally fast, but that was when he was younger and boxing at a lighter weight. I don’t think he will be able to maintain a boxing, moving, in-and-out fight for all 12 rounds, not with Brook bringing pressure.
At some point, I think we’ll see Khan obliged to stand his ground and let shots go, just to keep Brook off him. And if these two veterans get into exchanges, anything can happen.
Fun bets include “Khan to land most punches” at 13/8, “either fighter to win by split decision” at 8/1 and “either fighter to have a point deducted” at 5/1. The Boxing Social price boost is Brook to be knocked down in rounds 1-6 at 5/1.
Both Brook and Khan seem to be fired-up, each eager to prove a point. So this is the sort of fight where someone could get clipped at any time. But I’m not keen on laying two to win one on the fight to end inside the distance. The fighters could flip the script and show each other respect despite all the talk of knockouts and career-ending beatings.
So, what to do? I’ve gone back and forth, but after viewing the weigh-in I just had the sense that Khan might be the fighter with a little less wear and tear — but we won’t know until the bout gets under way.
I don’t have much faith in either man when it comes to making a wager. But in a fight such as this, when a case can be made for either side and each fighter is perceived to be diminished, it might make sense to take a shot on the underdog.
With no real confidence, I’ll go with Khan at 11/8 odds.
Main image: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER.