Inside the Jab

Promo courtesy of BOXXER and Sky Sports.

Despite the enforced suspension of boxing in the UK by the British Boxing Board of Control until February to relieve the draw on COVID medical response resources, there’s been plenty of activity this week to whet the appetite for the coming months.

Top of the tree was the BOXXER promotional company media link (Weds) with Kell Brook and Amir Khan in advance of their February 19 showdown in Manchester. Both fighters are deep in camp just four weeks out from the bout in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands and Colorado Springs, USA respectively. Both were open about their mutual dislike of each other, their motivation for the fight and, supreme confidence of being victorious on the night.

Many say the contest is five years too late with both past their primes but it remains a quality match-up with some jeopardy and interest. This was reflected in it becoming the quickest fight in UK boxing history to sell out at the ticket outlets and with the hype building will lead to large numbers tuning into Sky Sports Box Office on the night.

It pits two elite British fighters of recent years and former world sanctioning body champions in a big domestic dust-up. Both have shown class in the past but also considerable vulnerabilities.

Brook (39-3,27 KO’s) dialling in from the sunshine of the Canary Islands spoke of his animosity towards the Bolton man “It’s a fight I’ve wanted for a long time – better late than never as they say”. He expressed his desire “To prove to Amir and the world that I’m the better fighter…it’s personal”. Looking relaxed and trimmed he explained that camp had gone well over Christmas and he would “Go out and deliver what I’m supposed to do”.

Asked by The Undisputed on his strategy on the night, he replied “I’m training for every different situation… he might want to prove to the fans he can come out (and meet me ring centre)… he might get on his bike”. The Sheffield southpaw summed up, “So long as I’m 100% I’ve got no problem”.

The fight is effectively a welterweight contest but has been made at the higher 149lbs, much to Khan’s disappointment but the purse negotiated was likely too hard to resist. It was also revealed that a rematch clause had been included in the contracts. This contest will dictate the likelihood of that but we may even see Khan-Brook II.

A few hours later Khan (34-5, 21 KO’s) dialled in from the US, and referring to his primary motivation said “I wanna just shut him up and put a beating on him”. He explained Brook’s perceived “bitterness and jealousy” for Amir’s stateside success and earnings, and further emphasized his disdain for him by saying “He’s always had that chip on his shoulder”.

When asked about his gameplan on the night he failed to provide a clear answer and may wisely not be willing to share it at this juncture, but agreed they have a similar style. His response was more a comparison than a clear strategy “I don’t think he has the same workrate and speed…his punch resistance is literally gone”. Summing up, he said “Kell has no chance of winning this fight, on the 19th I am going to destroy him”.

It may indeed be five years too late, but as Brook said “Better late than never” !

On the same day Matchroom Boxing held a press conference in Nottingham for the upcoming WBA world featherweight (9st/126lb) contest between hometown champion Leigh Wood (25-2, 15 KO’s) and former elite amateur Michael Conlan (16-0, 8 KO’s) of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Possibly following in the steps of Irish hero Barry McGuigan this is the challenger’s big opportunity to fulfill the promise since turning professional amid much fanfare on St.Patrick’s Day in New York in 2017. The contest will be on March 12 and shown on the DAZN streaming platform.

Preparations also continue for the oft delayed Chris Eubank Jr. v Liam Williams middleweight (11st,6lb/160lbs) contest in Cardiff on February 5, the first major event once battles recommence next month.

February also sees the Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall contest for the undisputed world junior welterweight (10st/140lb) title in Glasgow on February 26. Both events are promoted by BOXXER in association with Sky Sports, with the latter having the Top Rank brand added for stateside interest. A busy month ahead no doubt.

Top of the rumour mill in the week was WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury possibly swerving his mandatory obligation with Dillian Whyte and going immediately to a unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion. This would take significant negotiation and step aside money for Whyte and Anthony Joshua, but in boxing never rule anything out !

So, despite little of note to preview this weekend, a lot to look forward to. Watch this space over the coming weeks.

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