A rivalry more than 12 years in the making will finally come to a head on Saturday night Amir Khan and Kell Brook meet in Manchester.
Dominic Ingle spoke to Johnny Nelson, who he trained throughout the 90s, for bet365’s In the Corner, and says he’s seen a hunger in Kell Brook that he saw before his first world title fight with Shawn Porter in 2014.
There’s no secret that Brook and Khan aren’t the best of friends, but Ingle denies it’s changed anything from his perspective throughout camp.
“For me, it’s the same as any other fight,” said Ingle. “For Kell, I think because Khan’s trying to get into his head and he’s bad-mouthed him for so long, it kind of winds Kell up, but he knows that’s what Khan’s game is, the intention is to wind him up and make him lose his game plan, but he won’t because Kell keeps himself to himself, he’ll only fire himself up now and again, but when he’s in that ring he keeps it all under control.
“In any fight, I always say, it’s much easier to go out and box, and if the stoppage comes, it comes. But if you go with the intention of stopping someone and it doesn’t happen, going back to boxing is very difficult. So the plan is always to box your way into position to get the stoppage, but don’t have that as your game plan.”
Despite being 35 now, Ingle sees similarities in Brook’s preparation for this fight as he did before taking on Shawn Porter back in 2014.
“It was his first world title fight. He was very switched on for that,” said Ingle. “More switched on than he’d ever been. Because the journey getting to that point was very difficult for Kell, that was one of the easiest camps because he knew there was a lot on the line, it was his first world title challenge, you couldn’t get it wrong.
“He was exemplary in what he did, and it’s almost the same now with Khan because it’s been such a grudge match for so long, and even though it was so long ago, he’s got the same bit between his teeth, the same drive, the same excitement as if he was fighting for a world title fight.”
Despite the bad blood between the Brook and Khan, Ingle appreciates the Boltonian’s boxing ability, but feels he
“He’s a very good fighter,” said Ingle. “Back from the amateur days, to get where he’s got and the fights he’s had, he’s never really ducked anybody apart from Kell, he’s taken the chances, he’s gone in with the big names, but that’s what boxers do, it’s expected, you don’t get any prizes for that.
“I think if he’d have boxed Kell any sooner than now and got beaten I don’t think he’d have been such an attraction in America. I think he started at the top and worked his way down. So when he talks about boxing at a higher level, yeah he’s boxed at a higher level, but he hasn’t necessarily won at a higher level, so he’s put himself in those fights that he probably couldn’t win anyway, so there’s no disgrace in getting beaten by Canelo and Crawford.
For a number of years, Khan has been criticised for a suspect chin, but throughout his career has been revered for his lightning-fast hand speed. Ingle is unsure however, that Khan will be able to maintain that speed throughout Saturday’s fight.
“As fighters get older, you tend to find that two things go – the speed and the chin,” said Ingle. “The punch is the last thing to go. He’s had very fast hands, that’s what he’s prided himself on. He’s not going to be the same fighter as he was two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, because he’s got older.
“He’ll have it for a certain amount of time. Whether he can sustain that speed all the way through the 12 rounds is another thing. When he was younger, he could. He’ll be fast for so many rounds this fight, but he won’t be able to maintain that speed.”
“As for his chin, he’s got up from big knockdowns, but he’s probably gone about the wrong tactics when he’s got chinned and got back up. Instead of getting out of the way, he’s stood and had a fight and got caught again.
“Once Kell catches somebody he’s a very good finisher. He doesn’t really let them off the hook. When you look at Chris Eubank Jr, he had Liam Williams on the floor and couldn’t put him away. When you’ve got somebody hurt, you’ve got to try and finish them, you’ve got to be able to finish them. That for me, marks the quality of a fighter.”
Khan has worked with a number of trainers throughout his career, most recently making the switch to Bomac – Terence Crawford’s cornerman for his defeat to Bud in 2019 – a decision Ingle questions.
“I don’t give it too much regard, because all his career he’s had different trainers, like he’s trying to find the answer to something, but the answer lies within him,” said Ingle. “It’s not the trainers. Great fighters over time stick with the trainers that they have.
“Khan seems to have moved every two or three fights. I think the best trainer he ever had was Freddie Roach, I think he did the best for him and spoke a lot of sense. Before that he had Oliver Harrison. It just makes me wonder why fighters do that. I don’t think it’s a wise move.
“I think psychologically he’s trying to get into Kell’s head, but when you think about the comments Bomac’s said about Khan after he got beaten by Crawford that you quit and you’re not very good, he did slag him off. So why would you go to a trainer who thinks that about you. Because if that’s your belief, what’s changed your mind? Money? For me it looks like he’s just training Khan for the payday. There can’t be any link or emotion with him because he’s already plotted Khan’s downfall against Crawford. He hasn’t really got Khan’s interests at heart has he?”