It was electric, dramatic, and full of heart and non-stop action. In the end it was Kell Brook who came out on top against Amir Khan as their feud was finally settled in Manchester tonight.
Seventeen years in the making with both now at the age of 35 the two warriors had vowed that the fight would not go the distance and they were right.
In the final minute of the sixth round Brook’s power, discipline and strength eventually proved too much and referee Victor Loughlin stepped in to save Khan from further punishment.
After a glove dispute in the final minutes before ring-walks Brook had to switch his hardware to the ones that Khan wore but it didn’t matter. The words, the animosity and the dislike for his compatriot proved to be the right fuel for Brook who used it in the correct manner to dish out the kind of punches that we have become accustomed to over the years.
The crowd were at fever pitch before the first bell rung. Many observers not caring that these two men were past their best while others perhaps in disbelief that this battle was about to happen.
From the early moments of round one Khan was on the move looking for Brook to come after him. The 2004 Olympic Silver medallist fired the first warning shot, a wild left hand off target. The speed was there as he moved up and down with the jab. He was the crowd favourite, and they were going crazy early on for any success he had. Before too long old traits such as lunging forward in attack with reckless abandonment became evident. With 70 seconds left in the opening round Brook wobbled Khan with a short-left hand and watched as his foe staggered backwards. The writing was on the wall already. Right hands, uppercuts all burst through Khan’s guard who put his hands out in front of him in an act of defiance.
Brook knew he would likely hurt Khan at some stage, but did he really believe it would come so early? A right hand travelled down the road on to the chin of Khan which allowed Brook to follow up with a one-two. It was already breath-taking before another heavy right hand dented Khan. The bell was needed, and it came.
The head was cleared, and the quick hands of Khan came out firing in the second, but a pattern began to emerge. For every second of success, he had it was taken away in half the time as soon as Brook, who was controlled and patient, landed anything of significance.
It was a more relaxed and accurate Khan in the third. Had he weathered a fistic storm that had been brewed up in Sheffield? It looked like it. Brook had moments of recklessness, but they were few and far between. A four-punch burst halfway through the round from Khan had the crowd buoyant. The 10-9 was looking like his but another one-two from Brook had Khan reacting in a way we have seen from him many times in the past but yet he would not go down, he would not yield. Instead, he swung back but Brook dodged the Hail Mary and followed him around the ring and a left uppercut and right hook had Khan almost through the ropes. Khan was in trouble again, but the bell sounded for the end of the third.
Khan was getting more ragged, but his resilience kept him going. Brook was big game animal picking away at his prey that was doing everything it could to fend off the inevitable. A Khan uppercut to the body was a highlight of the fourth as was the words that Brook was using to rub salt into the wounds while he had him on the ropes.
“Remember, six to eight round fight,” trainer Dominic Ingle told Brook at the end of the fourth.
By the fifth it was beginning to look like the beating Khan had predicted he would dish out to Brook but in reverse. The power of ‘The Special One’ was putting lumps into a weary Khan who was holding on. His heart willing to go out on its shield.
In the opening few seconds of round six a Brook jab sent Khan’s legs into positions they shouldn’t have been. Brook, just as it said on the cap he wore during his training camp, in Spain showed no mercy. The former IBF welterweight champion had a few more words for Khan who then got belted by an uppercut through the guard. Right hand after right hand was sapping the fight out of Khan with each second. In the corner Brook was bullying him and landed one final uppercut before the referee wrapped his arms around a man who was beaten by one who was simply better on the night.
Afterwards the two men enjoyed a more friendly conversation and sportsmanship appeared to cover up the wounds that the pair left on one another since they were teenagers right through to the ring inside the Manchester Arena.
“I always knew it were going to happen. It was just a matter of time before I got him out of there,” Brook told Sky Sports’ Andy Scott afterwards.
“What a feeling. They’re the fights I wanted to be involved in when I walked into the gym as a kid. Bragging rights, king of the North and I’m back on top now. My mojo is back.”