Negotiations regarding a high-profile all-British clash between Amir Khan and Kell Brook appear to have reached a critical impasse, with the former claiming during a recent television interview that his welterweight rival simply does not want the fight.
Appearing alongside wife Faryal Makhdoom on ITV's flagship daytime programme This Morning on Monday (23 January), Khan said: "Well, basically my team sat down with Kell Brook and his manager. We tried to make the fight and Kell Brook said he doesn't want the fight, so it's not happening.
"It's something I didn't want to tweet, but you guys asked me so I want to tell you the truth. I want the fight and Kell Brook has just walked away from it, he doesn't want it."
Such a claim was instantly dismissed by reigning IBF champion Brook, who angrily tweeted: "Don't believe what you hear from that "w****r" I'm pretty sure everyone in the world knows I want the fight."
Brook's promoter, Matchroom managing director Eddie Hearn, subsequently reacted to Khan's comments by insisting that they were unwilling to accept a 70-30 purse split in the former unified light-welterweight champion's favour.
"Eddie I'm the A side and you and Kell know he will make more then he did against [Gennady Golovkin] GGG," Khan replied. "Don't you agree."
Hearn hit back by insisting that even at an even 50-50 Khan would still stand to earn more money than he did in his last fight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in May 2016. That bout, which required the 2004 Olympic silver medallist to jump two weight divisions, ended in a devastating sixth-round knockout defeat.
With Hearn telling Sky Sports that Khan vs Brook is likely "dead until later in the year", it looks as if both fighters will now be forced to look elsewhere. Khan has not yet returned to the ring since that brutal loss to Canelo after undergoing corrective surgery on a broken right hand that is said to have afflicted him for the last 13 years and, by his own admission, left him punching with "30 or 40% power".
Brook also stepped up to middleweight and suffered a fractured eye socket in an entertaining but predictable fifth-round loss at the hands of Gennady Golovkin in September. Potential meetings with Manny Pacquiao, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia remain on the wish list for "Special K" if he is to remain at 147 lbs, while he will have to face mandatory challenger Errol Spence Jr soon or else relinquish his IBF belt.
Brook has admitted that his team wants him to move up to the light-middleweight limit of 154, where future opponents could include the likes of Canelo, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Jermell Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and Liam Smith.