Even as Amir Khan walked to the ring to join Kell Brook, there was doubt that their fight would actually start.
The crowd did not know that an ugly backstage row had been ongoing, and was still not settled, over Brook’s gloves.
This is why he changed his gloves inside the ring moments before the first bell – a highly unusual move, but the moment that a serious problem was finally resolved.
“There was a point where I didn’t think it would happen,” promoter Ben Shalom tells Sky Sports.
Khan had insisted on several clauses in the contract to fight Brook – a catchweight of 149lbs, a rematch clause, and a particular type of glove was among them.
It was stipulated that they must be made by the manufacturers Grant.
“It was contracted that horsehair couldn’t be in the gloves,” Shalom explains.
“Horsehair has been in boxing gloves for decades, but some new ones don’t have it.
“Amir knew what he wanted to avoid. It was in the contract.
“They went to a meeting with the British Boxing Board of Control. Everybody approved the gloves.”
But problems emerged in the hours before Khan vs Brook, with the undercard fights in full swing.
“Amir had a think overnight and became concerned that there was horsehair in the gloves,” Shalom says.
“We actually opened one of the gloves, and there was horsehair inside.
“It kicked off!
“It was an obligation for both fighters not to wear gloves with horsehair. It wasn’t stuck to.”
At this stage, the fight that had been anticipated for nearly two decades was in danger of a dramatic collapse.
“Kell and [his trainer Dominic Ingle] refused to change,” Shalom says.
“There was a massive back-and-forth between the teams, the families, Kell and Amir.
“Amir refused to get in the ring. Kell refused to change gloves.”
Adam Smith, the head of boxing development at Sky Sports, said: “I was called backstage. When I got there, a lawyer had the contract out. There was a clause saying ‘no horsehair’ which was the main gripe. They also had to both wear Grant gloves. Kell was wearing Fly gloves.
“If he went out in the wrong gloves, he might not get paid. That was a worry.
“They decided to change gloves in the ring. He had warmed up with the wrong gloves backstage.”
Brook walked to the ring wearing the gloves that were at the root of the problem. Backstage, nobody could be sure that the fight would actually go ahead.
“Dominic told Kell that they might not be paid if they didn’t change gloves,” Shalom says. “He told Kell to change gloves when they went to the ring.
“The ring-walks were 20 minutes late.
“We had to trust that Dominic would actually change Kell’s gloves in the ring! Amir wasn’t sure.
“It was absolute chaos.
“I was looking at Kell, nervous that the gloves wouldn’t be changed.”
Finally, Brook went ahead with the strange move of strapping on a new pair of gloves, with Khan already opposite him in the ring.
What came next was a victory for Brook that will live long in the memory and consign this glove bedlam to history.