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Twenty years after they first met in the ring as amateurs, and after more than a decade of simmering animosity between them, Kell Brook finally got the sweet vindication he had so long dreamed of when he stopped Amir Khan. in the sixth round on Saturday night in Manchester. Brook reacted to his landslide victory with euphoria while Khan looked dazed and broken after being helped into his corner.

The end, when it came, was as predictable as it was bleak for Khan. He obediently protested to the referee, Victor Loughlin, but he had suffered a heavy punishment and, leaning helplessly against the ropes as Brook punched him, there could only be one outcome. A final uppercut, which followed percussive combinations, shook Khan’s head back and, thankfully, Loughlin ended the contest 51 seconds into the sixth round.

Khan had come out quickly and thrown flashy combinations before the true pattern of the fight was established.

Brook nailed it with a stiff left hand that knocked Khan back. Despite the nod, it was clear that Khan had been hurt. They were to be parted at the bell but Brook looked like a man who knew he was about to dominate the rival he had despised for over a decade.

It seemed like Brook was hurting Khan every time he landed with real intent. Khan was always an extremely brave fighter, however, and he fought back and occasionally tagged Brook with his quick hands. But Brook got down to the body in the fourth round before, with calm deliberation, he started to really open up in the fifth. Khan tried to back down, but he couldn’t stem the dark wave of unrest that finally engulfed him. It was a relief when it was all over.

Their grudge match had always been bitterly personal to Brook who believed Khan had continually ignored or disrespected him. “Kell has always been very obsessed with my career, like a fanboy,” Khan said this week. “I’ve been living in his head for so long.” He then fueled the acrimony, saying, “I’m worried about Kell’s health after the beatings I gave him.”

Brook brutally exposed Khan’s hubris. His pleasure at almost certainly ending the career of the man who had been his nemesis for so long will be deep and sustained as Brook has long harbored an intense dislike for Khan. The only danger for Brook is that he will believe that overwhelming a faded Khan is a sign that he should campaign on a much higher level again against much younger and much more threatening men. Brook has suffered three crushing defeats over the years and this hugely satisfying win can’t mask the damage he suffered against far superior fighters in Gennady Golovkin, Errol Spence and Terence Crawford – who stopped him in his previous fight . It would be an uplifting end to the Sheffield fighter’s nearly 17 years in the professional ring if he can walk away with his health intact at the age of 35.

Kell Brook stops Amir Khan in round six to win grudge match |  Boxing
Kell Brook shows his joy after the fight. Photography: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images/Reuters

Khan is also 35 and before stepping into the ring against Brook he said: “If one of us loses, it’s something that’s going to haunt us for a very long time. This is the reason why I trained so hard. I did everything I needed to because I know I can’t lose this fight.

Boxing is a tough and unforgiving business and so Khan’s bold words were swept aside by the concussive fists of his fierce rival. He will have to learn to overcome the haunting memories of this painful defeat. It would help if their grudge could be buried now as both men should look to a life beyond boxing.

Khan showed just as much courage outside the ring when, well after midnight, he joined Brook for a shared press conference. It took courage and class to congratulate Brook. Speaking in a low voice, but with wit and insight, he admitted he would tell his family about his future. Khan insisted he was still happy to have fought in the most electric atmosphere he or Brook had ever experienced.

Brook also praised Khan and showed similar respect in an encouraging antidote to all the previous vehemence. Before parting ways, they wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders and posed for one last photo.

Of course, Brook is definitely going to keep going and recently said he would love to fight Conor Benn next. Nigel Benn’s son is 10 years younger than Brook and he would bring the violent danger to the ring that is now beyond Khan. So for a while at least Brook should relish his victory over Khan as it was one of the most glorious nights of his boxing life.

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In the main preliminary bout, 37-year-old Natasha Jonas finally won the world title she’s been chasing for so long. She had to move up three weight divisions, but she boxed with authority to stop Uruguay’s Chris Namus in the second round to become the new WBO super-welterweight champion. Jonas unleashed a series of clubbing combinations to knock down his hapless opponent in round one. Namus was lucky enough to hear the bell but, within 28 seconds of round two, she was again sent crashing to the canvas before the referee ended the one-sided contest.

Nine months ago, Jonas fought with courage and skill to nearly defeat Katie Taylor, the undisputed lightweight champion who is ranked as the best fighter in the world. Her admirable performance meant that it became even more difficult for Jonas to find meaningful fights because so many potential opponents were wary of her. But his desperation to win a world title at the third attempt was finally realized against Namus – who stepped in as a late substitute to challenge for the vacant WBO championship just eight days ago. An ecstatic Jonas, understandably, didn’t care about Namus’ questionable caliber as she celebrated her victory with soulful emotion.

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