Canelo and Khan to fight on May 7th 2016 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
It was a fight which nobody expected to happen. Speculation was mounting as to who Amir Khan was to face next, his last fight having taken place in May 2015, when he defeated Chris Algieri by Unanimous Decision. Many thought that he would finally take on his fellow British welterweight rival, IBF Welterweight title holder Kell Brook (35-0). This is a fight that would have easily filled 90,000 seats at Wembley Stadium in a huge domestic summer clash, a fight that British fans have been wanting to happen for years.
However, Khan (31-3) has surprised everyone and has decided to move up to a 155 pound catch weight to take on the dangerous Mexican superstar, Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1). Khan deserves enormous credit for taking this fight. This is the most dangerous and the biggest money-making fight he could have possibly made at this stage of his career, with the exception of facing Floyd Mayweather (who has declared himself as retired and has shown no interest in facing Khan). Canelo has 32 knockouts on his record in 48 fights, showing that he has real power in his punches. In his last fight in November 2015, Canelo defeated Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto via Unanimous Decision. This fight was also at a catchweight of 155 pounds, however it was for the WBC Middleweight title. Infact, Canelo was the only one able to fight for this belt as a result of Cotto refusing to pay the $1.1 million sanctioning fee. Canelo vs Khan is also for the WBC Middleweight title, even though this fight is also set to take place at 155 pounds. That’s the crazy world of boxing politics for you…
There is no doubting the skillset and star power that both Canelo and Khan generate going into this fight. This fight is set to be the first boxing match to be staged at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, just off The Strip. Canelo has a huge Mexican fan base and also has a lot of support in America. Khan attracts the UK audience and is also a globally-known fighter. What makes this fight so intriguing and appealing is the difference in styles and the difference in weight. Many people assume that Khan is simply going to be too small for Canelo at the 155 pound limit. They could well be right. However, one must keep in mind that Floyd Mayweather (arguably smaller than Khan) fought Canelo and beat him comfortably. Although Mayweather is truly a special fighter and also took the fight at a 152 pound catchweight (rather than the 155 for this fight), it shows that size is not always the determinant factor in boxing. Both fighters bring a lot to the table, regardless of what weight the fight is at.
Analysis: Amir Khan
UK fighter Amir ‘King’ Khan most certainly has the edge in speed over Canelo Alvarez. His hand speed is potentially the quickest in boxing. He has a lightning fast jab, can box beautifully off the back foot and can throw rapid combinations. He has the natural ability to throw 2 or 3 punches before the opponent can even blink. Khan has not fought at the 155 pound weight before (1 pound over junior-middleweight), therefore it will be very interesting to see if his speed will transcend up into the weight. Judging by the pre-fight build up, Khan has also bulked up quite significantly, thus it will be interesting to see if he can retain his speed along with his extra muscle and strength going into this bout.
Although Khan is undoubtedly a very talented boxer, it has to be said that his chin is suspect. Khan suggests that cutting down to 140 pounds (and even cutting down to 147 pounds) was draining him and leaving him more susceptible to knockdowns. This could have been a factor, however his questionable chin has been a recurrent problem throughout his career. He was knocked out by Danny Garcia in 2012, who is an undefeated world light-welterweight and welterweight champion, however Khan was out boxing him in the first 3 rounds before he got caught. It must be mentioned that Khan ditched his trainer Freddie Roach after this loss and moved to California to work with Virgil Hunter. Hunter has mentored Andre Ward from a young age, who has impeccable defensive skills and is currently campaigning at light-heavyweight after clearing out the super-middleweight division. Khan has most definitely improved with Hunter in his corner. He has beaten the likes of Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri.
Khan’s last fight against Algieri (in May 2015) showed Khan winning but also getting hit a lot more than he really should have. Nonetheless, Hunter has definitely improved Khan’s defensive mechanisms, instructing him to tuck his chin in more and operate behind a tighter guard. Khan has very much became an in-and-out fighter, throwing flurries then moving back out of the opponents distance. These tactics are fundamental for Khan to have a chance against Canelo Alvarez. Over 12 rounds, this will be tough for Khan, but he has the skillset to do it. It is a concern that Khan has taken a year off before facing such a strong fighter in Canelo. However, it has allowed Khan the time to build up his weight and it does show that Khan has cojones, one might say, in taking on such a tough opponent.
Analysis: Canelo Alvarez
Simply put, Canelo Alvarez is a future star in the sport of boxing. He appears to have it all. The Mexican redhead (the name is ‘Canelo’ because it means ‘Cinnamon’ in Spanish, his real name is Saul) has the looks, the charisma, superb physical conditioning and the fanbase. More importantly, the guy can really fight. He has a similar following to what his promoter, the ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya had.
Despite being just 25 years of age, Canelo has already beaten Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, ‘Perro’ Angulo, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley and Erislandy Lara (although this fight was controversial). His only loss came at the hands of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. Rather than sulk about this loss, Canelo took it on the chin and sharpened his tools and abilities as a boxer. What makes Canelo such a good fighter is that he has the ability to utilise his size and score a knockout punch (as shown by the Kirkland fight). He is very efficient with his punches, knowing how to calculate which punches to throw. He can also throw vicious combinations. If required, he is also able to box extremely well. The Cotto fight in particular showed his excellent boxing ability in scoring a Unanimous Decision against a top class fighter.
However, despite this Canelo is most certainly not the finished article, nor is he perfect. His stamina has been questioned in the past, with him appearing to get tired in the later rounds. Furthermore, he is fairly flat footed, despite having very good boxing ability. This means that his footwork is not always the fastest. As well as this, Canelo seems to keep fighting at the 155 pound catchweight despite holding a middleweight title. After this fight, to truly test himself, he should actually fight at 160 pounds and fight the other world champions at that weight. Although Canelo is an excellent fighter, Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin is an extraordinary fighter and would be a bad matchup for him at this stage.
Similarly to Khan, Canelo also has a lot of toughness about him and is willing to take on other quality fighters to prove his worth. Although in comparison to Khan, Canelo might appear slow, he does have underrated speed. Plus, Canelo has a very solid chin, therefore he should be able to take any shots that Khan throws at him well. Furthermore, Canelo is able to counter-box well, a dangerous proposition for Khan considering his power to go along with that.
Predictions for the fight: Canelo by KO in the mid rounds (6th/7th round)
First of all, Khan has to be given a lot of credit for taking this fight. Although he is making the most money from fighting Canelo, it is a very tough task. If Khan is to pull it off, he has to box perfectly for 12 rounds. Khan has shown that when he uses his boxing brain he is able to perform superbly. However, he seems to catch a rush of blood during fights and wants to take the fight toe-to-toe. This is something which Hunter has had to take away from Khan’s game. Unfortunately, even in his last fight against Algieri, Khan did get involved with this bad habit again. Thankfully for him, Algieri was not a big puncher. However, moving up in weight against a strong bull like Canelo is a different ball game.
Win or lose this fight, Khan will definitely be able to bounce back into a good fight. Although Khan most certainly does look stronger with extra weight on him, I feel that Khan may have bitten off more than he can chew with this matchup. Yes, he is quicker than Canelo and can box extremely well. However, Canelo is not only able to hit hard, he is able to box very well and is accurate when he does throw his punches. Khan I feel will be able to have a couple of good rounds for as long as he avoids Canelo’s punches. However, avoiding this for a full 12 rounds is a very difficult task. I expect Canelo to figure him out by round 4 or 5 and apply the pressure on Khan, forcing the stoppage.
Whatever the result, this is a PPV fight and should provide for a very interesting spectacle between 2 big names in boxing. On May 7th, sit back and enjoy the show.