Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan: Preview and Prediction
On Saturday, May 7, 2016, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes on Amir Khan in an interesting matchup for the WBC world Middleweight championship. This is not the fight of the century by any means, but my feelings about the fight have shifted from contempt to genuine curiosity.
Alvarez has been the favorite since the fight was first announced, and at first I didn’t even give Khan a fighter’s chance. Recently though I’ve teased at the idea of Khan scoring an upset over the Mexican superstar.
As ridiculous as this matchup seems, the stakes of the fight are high. The most obvious implication of who wins this fight concerns the recent buzz about Floyd Mayweather Jr. possibly coming out of “retirement” for a 50th fight. In other words, it’s a matter who will get better retirement money.
If Khan pulls off an upset, he might get the fight of his dreams and the dreams of boxing fans nowhere. As for Canelo, a win could potentially mean facing Mayweather for a rematch, not that there needs to be one.
If anything, beating Khan would be a nice stepping-stone for the much-desired fight with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
Tale of the Tape
|Canelo Alvarez||Amir Khan|
|Record||46-1, 32 KOs||31-3, 19 KOs|
|Hometown||Juanacatlán, Jalisco, Mexico||Bolton, Lancashire, UK|
On paper, Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan is a rather fair matchup. Both are young fighters in their 20’s, with only four years apart. With this in mind, there’s no reason to believe age is a factor in this fight.
Though Canelo is the younger fighter, he boasts 46 wins and only one loss–to Floyd Mayweather–which is understandable. Khan has experienced less wins and more than one loss with a couple of them by knockout.
These losses, in addition to knockdowns in fights Khan has won, are why his chin is such a great concern in this fight.
Physically, Canelo stands just a half an inch taller than his opponent, but comes up half an inch short in terms of reach. Khan may be able to get to Canelo’s body slightly easier with his marginal reach advantage, and given that the Mexican superstar’s husky physique may leave him open in some spots to the body.
However, Canelo has much more experience in the ring, with over 100 more rounds boxed than his scheduled opponent. Canelo is always in tremendous shape, meaning that he’ll likely be equipped to take blows to the body.
Not to mention, Canelo is picked as the favorite in this fight because of his power. He has a 67 percent knockout ratio compared to Khan’s 56 percent.
Despite the physical differences, Khan may have a chance at being successful by using what reach advantage he has to work on the outside and plague Canelo with jabs and outside-punch combinations.
Photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing
Fortunately there hasn’t been petty drama leading up to the fight, though there has been some talk regarding the WBC world Middleweight title being up for grabs in a catchweight fight. But hey, that’s boxing for you. Few things are organized; many things don’t make sense.
At this point, titles in boxing are pretty arbitrary but Amir Khan is really excited to bring home an arbitrary world title back to arbitrary Britain.
“British boxing is on such a high right now and I want to add to that by beating Canelo [Alvarez]…We have 11 world champions and we’re really experiencing something very special in the country. I’m going out there on Saturday night to add to that and make British boxing and sport proud,” said Khan.
He added, “This victory will be for the UK and all the fans. The fight really has a unique feeling about it, something similar to the Olympic Games in 2004 when I made it to the final, and I hope to do the country proud again.”
And of course, it wouldn’t be press worthy of an Amir Khan fight if he didn’t take time to mention Floyd Mayweather at least 300 times (this is becoming a little obsessive). Khan has royally demanded that Mayweather must come out of retirement and face him if he beats Canelo.
That’s an order, Mayweather.
Canelo on the other hand, is thinking about other things besides Mayweather, like the fight at hand. He’s satisfied with his preparation for the fight and has total confidence in being able to win.
“I’m very happy with the work I have done. Khan is a very fast, very elusive, and very tricky fighter, but I am happy with the work I have done and I am ready to go in the ring and break him down.”
In other words, Canelo is totally ready to annihilate Khan and he’s trying to be a really good sport about it. Fine by me.
Strengths for Each Man
Photo by Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy Promotions
Canelo Alvarez’s biggest strength as a boxer-puncher is his power. Amir Khan’s glass chin is such a big deal because Canelo can throw devastating shots and land them accurately and stealthily.
His punch placement is what makes him more sophisticated as a fighter, rather than just a power “puncher.” Not to mention, Canelo has gotten much better at learning how to box instead of relying solely on his power.
This growth will give Khan something to think about as he faces both a power puncher and a more developed boxer. I was greatly impressed by Canelo’s performance last fall as he made Miguel Cotto, who I predicted to win, look like a fighter past his prime.
In that fight I also noticed that Canelo got exceptionally better at cutting off the ring. This will help him a great deal if Khan chooses to move around a lot in the ring because he close in on him and land devastating combinations.
Amir Khan will gain most of his confidence from his exceptional athleticism, including, but not limited to, his speed, agility and skilled reflexes.
Khan needs to focus on winning by out-boxing Canelo and not fighting him. He can still be the aggressor by throwing his jab incessantly and lightning-quick combinations. This approach is Khan’s best strategy for beating Canelo without putting himself in harm’s way.
Virgil Hunter is another one of his strengths going into the fight. For some professional fighters, their corner is more or less a factor.
However, Khan needs someone in his ear in between rounds to keep him focused and tell him what to think about going into each round.
Weaknesses for Each Man
Canelo Alvarez’s best asset is his power, but I often worry he’ll rely on it too much and become frustrated easily.
He has a boxer-puncher style of fighting, which is great until he faces another strong boxer that doesn’t let him sit on his punches. The Achilles’ Heel of power punchers are that they can easily become discouraged if they can’t knock the opponent out.
Canelo has shown tremendous growth in his ability to box, though I wonder how he will adjust if Khan starts to out-box him.
Canelo also throws his punches with the same rhythm and intensity, which can end up draining his stamina. Fortunately he throws crisp punches with accuracy, but he’ll need those lungs should the fight go into the late rounds.
If Khan makes Canelo move more than he’d like and miss his punches, he can drain his energy and take advantage of him easily.
Amir Khan has a few weaknesses that are of great concern going into the fight. One thing I always say is that Khan has too much heart for his own good. You would think in a gritty sport in boxing there’s no such thing, but there is, especially when you have a glass chin.
Virgil Hunter has helped Khan stay more disciplined than in the past, but it seems like the old Khan can always re-emerge.
While Khan is gifted athletically, he hasn’t proved himself to be the smartest fighter. In this fight, Khan will be tested in a different way; he’ll have to figure out how to stay busy, hit and not be hit. I really hope he watched some Floyd Mayweather tapes as part of his training.
Khan’s biggest obstacle is staying disciplined and not getting reckless with a power puncher like Canelo Alvarez. This would put him in an unfavorable and dangerous position.
Winner and Why
Canelo Alvarez is the obvious choice here. Though I’ve recently given Amir Khan the benefit of the doubt, I still think this is an unwise matchup for him. Canelo is a serious threat to Khan, especially at 155 pounds.
I can say though that if Khan is able to defeat Canelo, he will gain much respect from the boxing community. The only way he can pull that off is by out-boxing the Mexican superstar with the help of his trainer, Virgil Hunter.
It will be interesting to see how and if Canelo can adjust to the speed and athleticism of Khan. He struggled a great deal with Floyd Mayweather, who made Canelo look virtually ineffective for 12 rounds. Khan is no Mayweather, but he does have experience in the ring with other boxer-punchers.
I predict that Canelo will win by unanimous decision and score at least one knock down in the process. Canelo is a tough opponent that is sure to give Khan one of the toughest fights of his career.