The long-awaited showdown between British rivals and former world titleholders Amir Khan and Kell Brook is being looked at for early next year, but there is still work to do to make it reality, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who promotes both boxers, told ESPN on Tuesday.
"It's been in the mix for a while," said Hearn, who met with Khan last week to discuss his future. "With (Manny) Pacquiao not committed to a fight with Khan, (Brook-Khan) could be in February or March. We know it's a huge fight. We're looking at that."
Khan has been chasing a fight with Pacquiao for years, but it has eluded him, and now Pacquiao is linked to a rematch -- probably in the spring -- with Floyd Mayweather, who said he would again exit retirement for a sequel to the richest fight in boxing history.
Without a fight against Pacquiao, Khan's biggest fight, by far, is one with Brook, who also has no fight bigger than one with Khan.
Brook, a former welterweight titlist now boxing as a junior middleweight, and Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titleholder who has been fighting as a welterweight, have circled each other for years for a fight that would be massive in the United Kingdom.
When Khan signed with Hearn in January it was assumed it was for the purpose of eventually putting the fight with Brook together. Hearn has been talking to both sides and wants to make the bout.
After Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), 31, suffered a brutal knockout in the sixth round when he moved up to challenge Canelo Alvarez for the middleweight title in 2016, he was out of the ring for 23 months. But Khan returned in April and has won two fights with Hearn as his promoter, a 39-second destruction of Phil Lo Greco in April followed by a much tougher than expected 12-round decision over Samuel Vargas, who knocked Khan down in the second round, on Sept. 8.
Brook was ringside for both fights and got into the ring to confront Khan after the Lo Greco bout.
Brook and Khan are both vulnerable, and another loss by either could greatly reduce interest in the fight.
Since losing back-to-back fights by stoppage -- to Gennady Golovkin in a September 2016 middleweight title challenge and his welterweight title to Errol Spence Jr. in May 2017 -- Brook has fought only once. He moved up to junior middleweight and knocked out Sergey Rabchenko in the second round in March.
Brook (37-2, 26 KOs), 32, was supposed to fight again on July 28 on the Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker undercard but withdrew because of an ankle injury.
Hearn said whether a fight with Khan is finalized or not for early 2019, he expects Brook back in the ring before the end of the year.
"Brook may run out on Dec. 8," Hearn said.
According to Hearn, Khan wants the fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, which Brook has struggled to make and is the reason he moved up in weight. But Khan learned a hard lesson when he moved up to fight Alvarez at 155 pounds, one over the junior middleweight limit, and wants Brook to come down in weight to fight him.
Hearn said Khan has been pushing for a rehydration clause in any agreement for a Brook fight, which would limit the fighters from gaining more than 10 pounds between the weigh-in the day before the fight and a weight check on the morning of the bout.
"We're talking about it, but the rehydration clause is not agreed to yet," Hearn said.
Brook mocked Khan's demand for a rehydration clause on social media on Tuesday.
"Please Mr. Brook don't rehydrate and hurt me. This DIVA still thinks he's a celebrity and in the jungle rationing what I can eat," Brook wrote, referencing Khan's recent appearance on a reality television show. "I'll weigh in at 147, and then eat whatever I like."
The comments from Hearn and Brook, however, are contrary to what Khan said this week to British broadcaster Sky Sports, which would televise the fight on pay-per-view in the U.K. if it is made.
"It's a fight I would love to have, and I think it would make a lot of money financially for both fighters, but at the same time it would be a massive fight in the U.K. It's a fight that the fans want. Why not make it happen," Khan said. "Nothing can stop it. He's agreed to be 147, and also have a rehydration clause of 10 pounds. I'm happy with that."