As Amir Khan and Kell Brook made their first public appearances of fight week ahead of Saturday’s hugely anticipated bout, Sky Sports News was on hand to pick up on any clues provided by the fighters.
The pair were greeted by large crowds at Manchester’s Trafford Centre on Wednesday afternoon as they performed public workouts ahead of Saturday’s grudge match, which is live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Brook, a Yorkshireman on Khan’s Lancashire turf, arrived in the ring to some booing, while Khan was almost universally cheered by the locals. But beyond the pantomime scenes, there was plenty of information to be gleaned by the who’s who of British boxing in attendance.
Crolla ‘pleasantly surprised’ by Brook | Coldwell worried over weight
Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Frazer Clarke showed off some of his power ahead of his professional debut, Natasha Jonas looked slick as she prepared for her third attempt to become a world champion, but with Brook due in the ring next, tension levels suddenly grew.
While Khan’s most loyal supporters attempted to make Brook feel unwelcome, those with a close-up view of the Sheffield fighter were quickly wowed by his appearance.
Preparing to fight for the first time since a defeat by stoppage to Terence Crawford in November 2020, Brook emerged in fantastic shape, exhibiting vicious power as he thudded punches into trainer Dominic Ingle’s pads.
After impressing in the ring, Brook told Sky Sports that Khan had made a mistake by elongating negotiations for the fight, and that extra time in training has left him in a position to get down to the 149lbs weight limit far more easily than in the past.
Members of the Brook camp could be overheard ringside backing up their fighter’s words, insisting that the extra months he has spent preparing abroad in Fuerteventura mean there will be no complications ahead of Friday’s weigh in.
Former lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla and trainer Dave Coldwell were both impressed with what they saw, but neither were fully convinced by the rhetoric coming from the Brook camp.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” Crolla told Sky Sports News. “Very surprised in fact.
“He looks in unbelievable shape and full of energy. I still believe the weight will be a bit of an issue but not as much now that I’ve seen him.”
Coldwell added: “I thought Kell looked fantastic, I looked at how he was sitting on his legs, very powerful, his legs looked really strong and he was really nice and sharp on the pads.
“But looking at Kell’s face and how he is normally at weigh-ins, he looks like he’s got a lot of weight to drop yet.
“He looks great today but that might take a lot of that away from him, that’s why I worry for him. 149 is going to be an absolute struggle for him, I don’t care what he says.”
Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre, the American coach who has overseen Terence Crawford’s rise to pound-for-pound king and is training Khan for the first time in this fight, was less impressed.
“I looked at him (Brook) a little bit,” he told Sky Sports News. “I’m not impressed until you get in the ring.”
Ingle: Khan has probably disappointed his fans
Khan watched from a balcony high above as Brook worked out, waving to fans who spotted him, before making his own grand entrance.
Crolla, along with Khan’s fans, was in awe as the Bolton fighter showed off his speed in several shadow boxing drills, but that was all they got as Khan chose not to put his gloves on.
Brook’s long-time trainer Dominic Ingle offered his own theory on the limited showing, while also asserting his belief that the reception for Khan had been underwhelming.
“He’s come in today, he’s done a bit of shadow boxing, nobody took him on the pads, he’s obviously tired,” Ingle told Sky Sports News.
“There might have been a few boos for Kell but there wasn’t a massive roar for Khan either. When I used to come to these places when Ricky Hatton was doing public workouts, it was an immense noise like everybody was behind him.
“It’s a fantastic turnout but I expected more of a roar for Khan all the way through his workout, but he’s probably disappointed his fans by just shadow boxing instead of doing some pad work and letting people see what he’s got.”
Coldwell agreed: “I think when there’s a big crowd and you’re the main event, everyone’s here to see you, I think you should just hit a little bit of pads rather than just doing a bit of shadow boxing. I always find that a little bit disappointing.”
Is Khan trying to wind up Brook?
Sky Sports News reporter Craig Slater, who is embedded with the Khan camp throughout fight week, gave his analysis on Wednesday’s events.
The mood in the Khan camp is quite a striking one. There’s, seemingly – on the surface at least – the lack of intensity, the kind of hard to contain simmering fury that a prize fighter often exhibits in advance of a big fight.
The only conclusion from that given how hard Khan is working, and he’s still having significant gym sessions halfway through fight week itself, is that Khan is genuinely relaxed and confident about this. Maybe he is quite convinced he’s a league or two above Kell Brook and that this will be a fairly straightforward fight for him.
The other aspect of it is that he’s been over this course so many times before, he is comfortable around the media hype heading into a big box office event like this, and he is playing a laid back character in part to wind up Kell Brook, who for a long time has felt he has been not properly respected by Khan.
I think all of that is maybe a little bit of a psychological ploy from Khan to get Kell Brook that bit more in a bad temper because he doesn’t want him fighting rationally, he wants an angry Kell Brook he can expose with some clinical boxing.
Fireworks on Thursday?
Thursday brings the press conference, where Khan and Brook will come face to face for the first time in fight week.
Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom, who managed to make the grudge match after years of feuding between the rivals, is expecting fireworks.
“They’ve been training extremely hard,” Shalom told Sky Sports News. “They’re both coming in incredible shape, I think both of them are extremely confident as well, but when they get in front of each other for the first time, I think they’re both going to realise that the other one has put in the work as well.
“It didn’t really kick off last time, it was still a very twitchy atmosphere, but now we’re on Thursday, bordering on fight night, it’s going to be interesting.”
Meanwhile, Crolla, one of the most popular fighters in Manchester’s rich boxing history, believes the atmosphere around the city is only going to heighten as Saturday night gets nearer.
“I think it’s just going to build and build,” Crolla said. “Tomorrow we’re going to get them speaking and I’m sure there’s going to be a few verbals.”
“For me, the thing about this is, it’s a genuine grudge match. There’s nothing going on to sell tickets, this is genuine bad blood.”
Watch Khan vs Brook on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Non-Sky TV subscribers can book and watch it here.
Source : Sky Sports