For one, the resurrection. For the other, a requiem. For both, respect born of sharing a savagely beautiful moment in time.
A fistic war to live in boxing memory and for them to brandish to the end of their days. The waiting was worth it and it proved to be all the better for coming a decade beyond their prime.
When it was done they stood arms around shoulders. Kell Brook, the bare-chested warrior chieftain, unblemished. Amir Khan in funereal black and wearing the vivid scars of violent defeat.
Kell Brook defeated long-term rival Amir Khan in dramatic fashion in Manchester on Saturday
The veteran was lofted in the air by trainer Dominic Ingle, who he reunited with for the bout
Bonded for ever by Brook’s Raging Bull performance of brutal brilliance which defied his 35 years and by Khan’s phenomenal courage in enduring a merciless beating.
After all the years of hurling barbs, ugly slurs and vile insults they heaped praise on each other.
Brook said: ‘After being in a ring together and a fight like this, nothing but respect. He’s had a fantastic career full of exciting fights that has been great for British boxing. We’re all right now.’
Khan said: ‘He fought out of his skin. I wasn’t ready for that. Nor for his strength. No excuses from me. He was much the better man. We can go for coffee whenever he wants.’
In front of a crowd supporting Khan, Brook impressed and forced a sixth-round stoppage
This was supposed to be the stormy Manchester night when the victor seized a lifetime of gloating rights and from which the vanquished would slump away never able to raise his eyes in public again. Instead both cemented the legacy they craved.
If classics can be one-sided, here was an epic of rampaging domination through five rounds and 51 seconds of hell fire and damnation. Until, as Brook battered Khan on the ropes for the umpteenth time, referee Victor Loughlin rightly called time on the slaughter.
When they finished complimenting each other in the small hours of yesterday morning they left the room by separate doors. Significantly so. Heading in opposite directions.
Yorkshire’s Brook was booed roundly by the Manchester crowd when he entered the ring
For Khan — even though he said he would ‘take time to discuss his future with his family’ — it is surely the end of a distinguished career decorated by Olympic silver and two world titles.
He almost said as much: ‘I’ve achieved more than I could ever have imagined. I won my Olympic medal at 17. I won my first world championship at 22. Perhaps I peaked too early. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time.
‘I’ve been in dramatic fights both sides of the Atlantic against great fighters. But you can’t go on and on being hit and hurt like I was here. It can make you fall out of love with boxing. It can be bad for your future life.’
Each had vowed to end the other’s career, even hinting it could be the last hurrah for both. Not for Brook after this stupendous effort.
Amir Khan, 35, revealed he’s leaning towards retirement after his defeat to Kell Brook
He roared: ‘I feel 23 once more. Fresh, strong, alive, full of running. I’m the main man again. I’m glad I’ve closed the book on this rivalry but I still love challenges and the competition.’
Will he go in pursuit of a second world title of his own? If so, who might he fight next by way of further preparation? Chris Eubank Jnr or Conor Benn, both of whom are pitching for a shot at the money?
‘They can wait in line,’ said Brook. ‘They should fight each other before the winner thinks about taking me on.’ Dominic Ingle, the trainer he praised for bringing him to extraordinary fitness for a veteran fighter, had a more intriguing notion.
‘Floyd Mayweather,’ he intoned. ‘There was talk of Kell fighting him a few years ago and he says he always wanted to box in Britain. Here’s his chance, either in a proper fight or one of his exhibitions.’
Whether his very Special K could restrain himself in a show bout is very much open to question.
Dominic Ingle suggested that now would be the time for Floyd Mayweather to fight Brook
Did I say Raging Bull? Make that pit bull. Brook was in attack dog mode, mauling and destroying Khan without respite. This time, unlike in some of Khan’s earlier slugfests, there was to be no Hail Mary miracle punch. Just mercy by referee.
Yet even amid the maelstrom there was an element of redemption. So often blithely accused of possessing a glass jaw, Khan somehow stayed on his feet.
That of itself was a remarkable feat of will and resolve beyond most men. He has no need to give any more of himself to the hardest game.
Khan was visibly shaken at points of the bout but showed immense heart by staying on his feet
Along with Brook in due course, he is bound for the Hall of Fame.
Khan added: ‘I just can’t get into the flow any longer. Not against someone as good as Kell.’
As the bruises and weals heal he will find his pride still intact. In this sport more than any other there are medals of honour for valour in defeat.
Thanks for the memories, Amir. You have taken us on an incredible journey.
Stay well as you travel on, Kell. We will watch you with the usual admiration but carefully, too.