MANCHESTER, ENGLAND -- For years Kell Brook has insisted he has the beating of Amir Khan, and on Saturday he executed his game plan to perfection when he stopped his British rival in six rounds.
Brook troubled Khan with his power from the start before overwhelming him amid a furious, one-sided attack at the start of the sixth round to prompt a stoppage in a nontitle catchweight bout (149 pounds) just above the welterweight limit at the AO Arena.
Brook (40-4, 27 KOs), from Sheffield, who made three defenses of the IBF world welterweight title during a reign from 2014 to 2017, had Khan rocking in the first and fifth rounds, before relentless pressure in the sixth forced the stoppage.
Khan (34-6, 21 KOs), who was knocked out by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2016 when he jumped two weight classes to fight for the world middleweight title, was stopped on his feet, but defeat had looked inevitable for a while. Khan got out-landed 79-34 in total punches (64-19 in power punches), and just could not handle Brook's power.
After at least six years of serious attempts to make this clash between two bitter rivals who live about 50 miles apart, but whose paths have repeatedly missed each other, Brook celebrated wildly with his team in the ring after the stoppage.
"It was just a matter of time before I was getting him out of there," Brook said.
"Those are the fights I wanted to be involved in when I walked into a gym as a kid. I knew from 18 years old I was a better fighter than him. He had the push and promoters behind him because he won an Olympic medal."
Brook had to change gloves in the ring before the fight after a dispute about gloves and wraps, but Brook remained completely focused. "They tried to get into my head," Brook said.
When Brook looks back at his career, this might be his most satisfying and proud moment, and revives some hope he can remain in big fights.
For Khan, however, a sixth professional defeat might be enough to convince him to retire.
"I've had 40 fights, winning two world titles, fighting in America and around the world," Khan said. "I need to sit down with my family. But it is more towards the end of my career. In the ring, I didn't have excitement and that push. That's maybe a sign that I should call it a day, but let's see."
Both 35-year-olds were in decline before their overdue meeting. Brook last held a world title in 2017, while Khan's reign at junior welterweight ended in 2011. American Terence Crawford, the world welterweight No. 1, stopped Brook in his previous fight inside four rounds (November 2020), and dispatched Khan in six rounds in 2019.
But despite the losses, injuries and recent activity, this was still a huge event for British boxing fans, and it lived up to the hype in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000.
Khan, from Bolton, had trainer Brian "Bomac" McIntyre in his corner for the first time, and after training alongside Crawford for six weeks in the United States.
Crawford had even made the trip to England to support Khan, and it was the pound-for-pound No. 1 who was giving the English boxer some last words of advice in the corner before the opening bell.
It did not have the desired effect, though, as Khan was soon in trouble as he was wobbled twice in the first round.
Khan, who had not boxed for two and half years, came out firing quick combinations, but a lot of the punches did not land.
When Brook began punching back in the second half of the opening round, Khan was immediately in trouble and was rocked by a left hook. Brook wobbled Khan again later in the first round with a right and smiled at his rival at the end of the first round.
Khan moved better in the second and through most of the third, but got caught late in the third as he began to get bullied by Brook.
Khan landed some good shots in the fourth, including a left hand, but it was Brook's shots that did more damage, like the overhand right late in the fourth.
Khan did well to escape the fifth round without visiting the canvas after Brook put him under intense pressure, especially early in the fifth with a sustained attack of hooks.
Brook immediately came at Khan in the sixth, stalking his opponent around the ring and landing unanswered right hooks. After 51 seconds of the sixth round, referee Victor Loughlin had seen enough with Khan taking continuous punishment and called a halt.
Brook, who had prepared in Fuerteventura with trainer Dominic Ingle, had not fought since being wiped out by Crawford following knockout losses to Gennadiy Golovkin (at middleweight) and Errol Spence in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It was quite a response to that one-sided loss to Crawford, while Khan will be left wondering if he has a future left after failing to cope with the power of Brook's punches.
Jonas crowned world champion, Clarke makes pro bow
Natasha Jonas captured her first world title at the age of 37 when she rushed to a two-round stoppage win over Chris Namus for the vacant WBO world super welterweight title.
Jonas (11-2-1, 8 KOs), from Liverpool, England, pushed undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor close in a points defeat almost a year ago and put that setback behind her by stepping up three weight classes to win a world title with ease.
For Jonas, it was success at the third attempt of winning a world title after she was held to a draw in a shot at WBC world junior lightweight champion Terri Harper in August 2020 before the loss to Taylor.
Namus, from Montevideo, Uruguay, was a late replacement for Ewa Piatkowska, who pulled out due to testing positive for COVID-19, and was quickly in trouble.
Jonas, an Olympian in 2012, took control early on against Namus (25-7, 8 KOs), who was outpointed by Ema Kozin in her previous outing at middleweight in October 2020.
Jonas landed a perfect right hook following a jab to heavily floor Namus in the first round, and she was on unsteady legs for the rest of the round.
Jonas did not allow Namus to recover, and 28 seconds into the second round it was over after she had sent Namus tottering backward from a left hook. Namus insisted she was OK to continue, but referee Howard Foster thought otherwise.
Afterward, Jonas dedicated the title win to her daughter.
"I have been through hell and back, I have been through ups and downs, it makes it all worth it for what I've got on my shoulder," Jonas said. "I've got the most supportive friends and family in the world. My little girl is at home with my cousin. And baby, Mummy did it, this is for you."
Also on the undercard, heavyweight Frazer Clarke, 30, from Burton, England, made a successful professional debut by blasting out Jake Darnell inside a round.
Clarke, who won a bronze medal in the super-heavyweight tournament in the Tokyo Olympics, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his friend Anthony Joshua, the former world heavyweight champion.
Clarke, who is a former sparring partner and has even worked as a security guard for Joshua, was too powerful for Darnell when he began to open up in the second minute.
Adam Azim, a 19-year-old super lightweight from Slough, also impressed in a third-round stoppage of Jordan Ellison, to take his record to 3-0 (2 KOs).