According to ESPN.com's UK outlet, former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan and current welterweight contender Kell Brook were involved in a heated face-to-face exchange that culminated with both men assuring they would knock the other out if an all-British showdown to materialize.
The dispute over who got the better of whom when the two used to spar—while Khan was training for the Olympics and Brook was in the junior ranks—began the pointless exchange, which escalated as Khan (26-3, 18 KO) asserted that he is simply operating at a higher level than Brook (28-0, 18 KO):
"I still think I'm a league above [Brook] but if I have to step back a league to knock him out, I might have to do that. I think he's bitter about the treatment he got in sparring."
Naturally, Brook promised that he would knock Khan out in what essentially amounts to smoke-blowing between two fighters who already have their next bouts scheduled. Interestingly, Khan did say he would fight Brook if the current WBA Inter-Continental and IBF International welterweight belt-holder would fight Timothy Bradley, a bout Brook and his team have already rejected, as reported by ESPN's Dan Rafael.
All of this trash talk and hypothetical proclamations have Khan and Brook diverting their respective focuses from important tasks at hand. Khan, of course, is preparing to embark on a comeback after a two-fight losing streak, while Brook is finally stepping up to fight an IBF elimination bout.
Khan, who recently hired reigning Boxing Writers Association of American Trainer of the Year Virgil Hunter, needs to exclusively direct his focus on Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KO), the career lightweight handpicked as an opponent to help rebuild Khan's confidence after the former WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion suffered a devastating fourth-round knockout loss to Danny Garcia.
While some might suggest that Khan should easily steamroll the smaller Molina, Khan's focus is paramount because the bout offers him the chance to work on the new aspects of his craft that Hunter is likely to instill during their first training camp together.
One can speculate about the areas where Hunter will help Khan improve, but if Hunter's star pupil Andre Ward is any indication, expect Khan to exhibit more poise, patience and a better adeptness at in-fighting against Molina. A measured approach, however, is most beneficial to Khan, and verbal sparring or emotional trash-talking with other fighters is not beneficial to his comeback.
Given Khan's marketability and past championship success, expect him to be in notable fight which he will defeat Molina decisively. That said, at this juncture, Khan is a former champion and fighter who has not technically won a bout since July of 2011.
Regardless of whether Brook started their war of words, Khan should adopt the reclusive mindset of a fighter on the mend, hone his craft with Hunter and be sure to make a statement against Molina.
As for Brook: Be careful what you wish for.
Khan's punch resistance is somewhat exaggerated, though it is, of course, obvious that he can be hurt and knocked out. That said, Khan has stood up to Marco Maidana's onslaught, so Brook's assurance that he could knock Khan out, given his limited resume, seems like false bravado.
Brook is a skilled and quality contender who desperately needs a genuinely meaningful and challenging fight. In Brook's last outing, he was desperately hanging on against the rugged, but limited, Carson Jones in a fight where Brook appeared to be cruising for the first six rounds.
Jones deserves full credit for pushing Brook, but the fact that Brook struggled so mightily in that fight suggests that he has his own flaws to correct before calling out a former unified champion who has been operating at the world level since 2009.
Considering that Brook has yet to fight a world-class opponent, he should withhold his criticism of Khan. Were the two ever to fight, little promotion would be required for the all-British fight to sell out in the UK and likely get HBO coverage. As of now, Brook saying he could knock Khan out reflects poorly on him when one considers that both Brook and Khan have fights scheduled.
While it seems easier to call someone out when there is no immediate threat of having to fight them, Brook's next move is not without purpose. Slated to face the obscure Hector David Saldivia (41-2, 32 KO) in an IBF elimination fight, a victory will put Brook in line to face the winner of the upcoming Randall Bailey-Devon Alexander welterweight title fight.
That said, one could argue that Brook and his team are navigating the back-door route toward a title shot. For all the criticism Khan receives, one has to acknowledge that he has been willing to fight the best. Brook has made his choice to pursue the IBF title instead of fighting Timothy Bradley; now, in order for Brook to save face, he must win that belt or risk Khan genuinely laughing at him.
Khan, however, must also be careful. An upset loss to Molina would send his career into a tailspin, and it is crucial that his latest comeback go well. A Khan-Brook fight could be interesting at some point, but at this juncture, both men need to focus on regaining some leverage; then, the war of words can rightfully resume.
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