Khan vs. Alvarez Boxing Fight Announced



Although Amir Khan is a gifted boxer, he may face some big challenges going against Canelo Alvarez.

Michael Thompson, Sports Editor

Amir Khan has quite a bit of courage fighting Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as his next opponent.

That’s not to say Khan isn’t a talented prizefighter — he’s a gifted boxer with victories against formidable names such as Devon Alexander, a fading Marco Antonio Barrera and Zab Judah under his belt. However, Khan, perhaps frustrated in his failures to land a fight with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, is taking a sizable gamble in fighting Alvarez, the current lineal middleweight champion of the world.

The announcement of their fight was a surprise, and not just because the negotiations were done secretly. While the fight is intriguing, Khan appears to be at a noticeable disadvantage. Most obvious is the dilemma Khan will face going against a much larger fighter — not in height but in weight. In boxing, it can take just a few extra pounds to gain an edge in the ring. Fighting his most significant bouts at super lightweight and welterweight, Khan has never weighed more than the welterweight limit of 147 pounds for a fight’s weigh-in, but is now facing Alvarez at a catch-weight of 155. Alvarez, holding virtually all of the bargaining power, will feel quite at home fighting at his most comfortable weight, which is five pounds under the traditional middleweight limit of 160. On fight night, he may even balloon to a massive 170 pounds.

Khan has an interesting decision to make: does he try to bulk up a bit while sacrificing some of his considerable speed and movement, or does he instead rely on that speed, staying at his natural weight and hoping he can outbox Alvarez? From a strategic perspective, Khan’s best bet is to stay lean and agile, using his marginal reach advantage to try to keep Alvarez at bay. But in the end, will it matter? Khan has a well-documented glass jaw, and is susceptible to getting caught with a big punch from time to time. In 2012, Khan was obliterated by Danny Garcia in a fight contracted at 139 pounds, and was even shaken briefly in his bout against Chris Algieri in May. How much damage will 16 more pounds do?

Coming off his win against Miguel Cotto, Alvarez is one of the hottest properties in the sport today, and perhaps the sport’s next megastar. This fight may be looked at as a high-profile tuneup for his planned September mega-fight against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. While his position comes with a palpable level of pressure, Alvarez should feel comfortable on the big stage by now; he fought Mayweather when he was just 23 years old and has been on a tear since, notably in his destruction of the brawler James Kirkland and victory over Cotto.

A fight against Khan may indeed pose a stylistic problem for Alvarez. Khan, whose lack of power makes slick boxing a necessity, has made a career out of frustrating opponents. His in-and-out style based on strong lateral movement has the ability to score points with the judges. Canelo cannot be as hesitant to get aggressive as he was against Cotto, but quite frankly he won’t be since he should easily be able to eat Khan’s punches, even if Khan bulks up (at which point his speed advantage will no longer be a factor). By figuring out Khan, coming forward and wearing him down, Canelo will do some real damage, possibly earning a stoppage before it goes 12 rounds. Maybe he’s crazy, but Khan should be commended for taking one hell of a risk. He’ll probably leave with a fat paycheck and one more big fight opportunity against fellow Brit Kell Brook, but at this point Canelo is on the rise and only GGG can possibly thwart his ascent.


Email Michael Thompson at [email protected].