Shane McGuigan believes Amir Khan will claim victory over Kell Brook if he emerges unscathed from the first four rounds of their grudge match this weekend.
Khan and Brook will settle their long-winded rivalry at Manchester Arena on Saturday after years of waiting, having been locked in a bitter feud for the best part of a decade.
Nevertheless, the former world champions, both 35, are no longer at the peak of their powers and have suffered some damaging defeats in recent years.
Khan, who unified world titles as a light-welterweight, was knocked out cold after hopping up to middleweight to challenge Canelo Alvarez in 2016, before a clash with Terence Crawford three years later ended in controversy when he quit after shipping a low blow from the WBO welterweight chief.
Shane McGuigan tips Amir Khan (left) to beat Kell Brook (right) if their bout goes the distance
As for Brook, the ex-IBF champion at 147lbs also paid the price for moving to 160lbs in pursuit of greatness; with unified king Gennady Golovkin fracturing his eye socket and battering him into submission when they met in 2016.
Errol Spence Jr took advantage of that eye injury when delivering his second professional defeat the following year, while Khan’s old foe Crawford needed just four rounds to wipe him out in November 2020.
Thus, both Brits venture into this domestic dust-up as faded stars seeking one last tilt at glory and, more truthfully, one last mega-payday. McGuigan can barely split them as a result.
‘They’re both well past their sell-by date, but they’ve both aged at a similar rate,’ the renowned coach told Sportsmail.
Khan and Brook will finally settle their long-winded rivalry in Manchester on Saturday night
McGuigan admits both men are ‘past their sell-by date’ heading into this weekend’s contest
But the renowned coach is expecting Khan to prevail if he can survive past four rounds
‘At one stage you’d have said Khan had way more miles on the clock, but then Brook deteriorated fast.
‘I think even though they’re not meeting anywhere near their peak, they’re still meeting at a relatively equal level. That’s why Sky and everyone are building it up and that’s why people are so excited, because they both didn’t look themselves against Terence Crawford. But Terence Crawford’s the best fighter in the world.
‘Let’s see how much they’ve got left. I’m not going to put a name on who’s going to win, because I genuinely believe it’s a toss-up. It’s a 50-50.
‘If Amir Khan gets through the first four rounds, he wins the fight. And I think if Brook nails him early, he wins.’
While this weekend’s long-awaited encounter remains intriguing despite their miles on the clock, an all-British showdown between Khan and Brook would have been a significantly higher-level contest had it happened sooner.
At one stage of his career Khan staked a claim to being one of the top light-welterweights on the planet; particularly when defying preconceptions about his punch resistance in impressive victories over Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah and Andreas Kotelnik.
Brook, meanwhile, is one of just three men to topple welterweight gatekeeper Shawn Porter, edging a split-decision points win over the American out in the States. Only Spence and Crawford also managed to get the better of Porter in his glittering 36-fight career. Some company.
Yet, who would have swept up the bragging rights if Khan and Brook had collided in their primes?
He also says the Khan that beat Marcos Maidana would have toppled Brook back in the day
‘The Amir Khan that beat Maidana would have beat Brook, in my opinion,’ McGuigan adds. ‘When he was with Freddie Roach and he was firing, he had loads of confidence, he never had an amazing chin but he believed in himself to be able to push through. Personally I think he’d have been too quick for him.
‘But then there was a stage when he got knocked out by Canelo and he just looked really flat. He boxed Samuel Vargas after that for instance, and I thought ‘god, if Kell Brook even half catches him he’s gonna go to sleep’.
‘But then Kell Brook’s had a lot of wear and tear as well now, so it’s an equal fight.’
Regardless of which fighter’s hand is raised at the final bell on Saturday night, McGuigan hopes it will be the last time Khan and Brook lace up the gloves.
McGuigan hopes both men will retire after their grudge match regardless of the result
‘I hope they retire after, because they don’t need to give any more to the sport,’ he said.
‘I hope they don’t have any financial issues, I don’t believe they do. I think they’re doing it because they both want to box each other.
‘I’m sure they’re getting well paid for it, hence the reason it’s on, but there’s no financial thing after that, it’s just about them settling it.
‘I know there’s a rematch clause but to be honest, just pack it in.’