Alan Hubbard

Six years ago a contest between Amir Khan and Kell Brook would have had boxing buzzing. A veritable Battle of Britain. Now the match has finally been made it is simply an unwanted scrap between two washed-up yesterday’s men.

This may seem a harsh indictment of a pairing scheduled for the Manchester Arena on February 19, but unfortunately it is true.

No doubt the British Boxing Board of Control will be taking a close look at the worthiness of a bout, which had it happened in their pugilistic prime, truly would have been a ring classic. Such was the genuine animosity between the former world champions.

Alas both are well past their sell-by date, deluding themselves by believing it is a contest which the world awaits with bated breath. Not so.

For one thing, neither has fought for some time, two years in the case of Olympic silver medallist Khan, and just over a year for Brook. Both have turned 35 and, as we know, the prize ring is no place for old men.

They won't be fighting for a title, simply bragging rights and a fistful of dollars. That is if they can fill the venue and Sky can sell it on their pay-per-view channel.

While it may still have a certain novelty value, arousing a morbid curiousity, I do not feel that this so-called contest will be good for them, or for boxing.

Some may argue that their belated fistic confrontation is better late than never. But as the journal, Boxing News points out, might it be more a case of never being better than too late?

Amir Khan won a silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic ©Getty Images
Amir Khan won a silver medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic ©Getty Images

Their respective careers seemed to have petered out when both were hospitalised following bouts while trying to regain former glories.

The bout certainly has echoes of a former contest which was delayed to the point of disinterest, that between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, which when it finally took place in 2015 turned out to be anti-climatic. The proverbial damp squib.

Of course, Khan v Brook could be similarly disappointing, but the risk is that unlike Mayweather and Pacquiao, both have suffered both indignity and injury in the twilight of their respective careers. Neither are as fit, or as fast, as they once were. While dedication, or lack of it, and errant lifestyles also might also be of concern.

Inevitably the drum-banging has begun, and it will be loud and long with more than the usual Skyperbole because the broadcaster, having lost a major deal with Matchroom, needs to establish its foothold on a new promotional platform.

It should also be pointed out Khan and Brook no longer have the financial muscle of their heyday, just as Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn discovered in their own case when attempting to raise interest in a third battle between them also while in their dotage.

Although there has been long-standing verbal rivalry between the two prospective protagonists they are clearly kidding the public, and themselves, when insisting it is a fight "we all want to see".

As it is scheduled for the tail end of the pantomime season in Britain, perhaps we should chorus "oh no it isn't!"

Brook argues that the fight is "massive." Well, it would’ve been half a dozen years ago, no doubt filling Wembley or most football stadiums.

Kell Brook has won professional world titles at two different weight classes ©Getty Images
Kell Brook has won professional world titles at two different weight classes ©Getty Images

But since then their careers have turned sour with significant defeats which have tarnished their reputations and diminished box-office appeal.

Of those defeats, both succumbed to the powerful fists of American Terence Crawford, arguably the world's outstanding pound-for-pounder.

It was nine years ago when Khan lost his World Boxing Association light-welterweight title when knocked out by Danny Garcia and his attempt to become a world champion again ended disastrously against Crawford when he seem to abjectly quit in the sixth round.

A few fights earlier he had taken a pasting from another all-time great, the Mexican Canelo Álvarez. The past two years have been spent making a cringeworthy television documentary about his home life in Bolton and living it up in Dubai.

Brook has not fought since November of last year when Crawford also became his nemesis, pulverising him inside 10 minutes. In recent years Brock has twice suffered severe damage to his eye sockets.

Putting these over-the-hill warriors against each other carries a high risk that one or both might be seriously hurt. It is a contest which should carry a health warning. Not only could it damage either or both of them, but boxing itself.