Kell Brook-Amir Khan could be the best crossroads fight of 2017

A rabidly anticipated fight between Kell Brook and Amir Khan appears closer to happening than ever. If Brook were to defend his IBF welterweight title against bitter rival Khan, the match-up could prove to be boxing’s most compelling crossroads fight in 2017.

Although Amir Khan has been loath to admit it until now, the former unified 140-pound champion and Kell Brook have been on a collision course for years. Khan (31-4, 19 KOs) indeed rose to prominence earlier by building off the momentum of his Olympic silver medal as a teenager, but Brook’s ascension to world level, combined with Khan’s sporadic activity as he chased fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, has levelled the proverbial playing field.

For several years, Amir Khan, who does deserve immense credit for his willingness to fight virtually anyone, has been barking that Kell Brook lacks the profile to merit a “shot” at him. Even though Khan has been criticized for this, he deserves some credit for changing his tune after Brook’s fight against Gennady Golovkin raised the Sheffield man’s standing in the sport.

A report from (via PA Sport) indicates as much:

After years of Brook pursuing his rival, Khan recently turned the tables on Twitter when, in a post referring to the IBF welterweight champion, he wrote ”Ready when you are”.

Hearn believes Brook’s September fight with Gennady Golovkin has grown his profile to the extent Khan is finally tempted to face him, but has also stressed that previous negotiations have progressed further than the present ones without actually succeeding.

It remains murky as to whether Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) and Khan will face each other next, but as the above-cited report notes, Khan may be keen to lure Brook into an imminent fight, if only to capitalize on the IBF champion having to drop down from 160 to 147 pounds — a taxing enterprise for any boxer.

Should Kell Brook and Amir Khan fight in 2017, they will enter the contest having ended 2016 in eerily similar fashions. In May, Khan fought Canelo Alvarez at a catchweight of 155 pounds for the WBC and lineal middleweight titles and was winning on points before getting iced in the sixth round. In September, Brook challenged middleweight destroyer Gennady Golovkin at the division limit of 160 pounds, enjoying a sensational second round before his corner stopped the fight in the fifth. (It was later revealed that Golovkin had broken Brook’s eye socket.)

Both men have been lauded for their efforts against physically superior foes, and rightfully so. And there are intriguing mitigating factors at play, too. Although Khan was the one who suffered a brutal, one-punch knockout loss, he boxed beautifully for long stretches against Canelo and proved his hand-speed and combination punching are still elite.

Brook was ultimately stopped on his feet, and he showed more durability than Khan against a harder hitter. He also rocked Golovkin multiple times in the second round, reaffirming his own explosiveness (whereas Khan could only sting Canelo in his best moments). Because of this, Brook comes out looking slightly better following his loss and moral victory than Khan.

Brook-Khan remains a fascinating match-up, with both Khan’s slicker boxing skills and highly suspect punch resistance serving as enthralling variables. And don’t discount Brook’s technical abilities; should they fight, Brook will catch up to Khan at some point, and if it isn’t lights out, fireworks will ensue. That’s also because there’s a genuine disdain between the two, and both have proven consistently willing to exchange in order to thrill fans.

With both Kell Brook and Amir Khan in their primes, the time to make this fight is no later than the summer of 2017. A knockout loss for either man could be irreparably damaging — both for their future prospects and egos. Everything has been building up to these massive stakes, and it appears that Brook and Khan have stumbled down the same recent path for a reason.

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