AFTER nearly 19 years of peacocking, posturing and false starts, Amir Khan and Kell Brook had a fight. A prize fight that had been in the making since they sparred as amateurs in 2003, a contest that was first discussed on the pages of Boxing News two years later. A contest that, in the end, was completely one-sided as Brook stopped his enemy the sixth.

For many years, Khan would say he didn’t need Brook. So it proved; Brook was the last thing Khan needed at this stage of his illustrious career. Dropped 12 times in the past and stopped on four occasions, Amir’s once scintillating form is long gone. Brook is past his best, too, but there can now be no doubt he had more left.

The fight was engrossing albeit an uncomfortable watch at times as Khan – now 35 years old – took several blasts in every round. How he stayed up (the only time he lost his footing was when he was bundled to the floor in round three) is anyone’s guess. On this night, Amir Khan’s chin did him proud.

But the bragging rights, those bragging rights that have been almost 20 years in the making, belong to Brook and only Brook.

Relaxed from the start inside an electric Manchester Arena, Brook retained his composure in a way that Khan could not. Though Amir’s fast hands were in evidence in a wild opening minute, his aim was not. Brook countered with a left hand that straightened Khan and, moments later, a right that made him pull a funny face in a poor attempt to disguise his discomfort.

The pattern was set. Khan was gutsy in the extreme – just like always – but Brook’s timing was on point and his focus laser-like. Khan began the second round like it was the last, loading up on each shot but too eager to make a dent in his long-term enemy. It was as if he knew the game was up.

Khan had a brief moment of success in the third, a right hand seemed to sting Brook but it wasn’t long before the theme of the contest was restored. Brook scored with two right hands as Khan, foggy-eyed and his bravado kidding no one, lurched backwards seemingly ripe for the taking.

But the Bolton man battled on. He scored with both a jab and trailing right hand to begin the fourth but Brook roared back. Khan was desperate and ragged, and getting tagged at will. The pre-fight favourite couldn’t miss and some ringsiders called for the towel to be thrown in the fifth such was Kell’s dominance.

By the sixth, Khan was fighting on instinct only. Referee Victor Loughlin’s stoppage, 51 seconds into the session, was perfectly timed. Khan’s chances of winning had gone. He was taking a pasting and too many blows to the head.

Almost twenty years in the making, Khan may always regret not fighting Brook before now. On this night, Brook – the fighter Khan always claimed was a level below him – was the better fighter by some distance.