Canelo vs. Khan: Power vs. Speed – When two collide
By Daniel Arissol: On May 7th in the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, Nevada the boxing world casts its eyes over the WBC middleweight showdown between the champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and challenger Amir ‘King’ Khan. When this match up was first announced eyebrows were raised at the prospect of a welterweight fighter moving up two weight divisions to take on one of the most explosive and dominant middleweights of the current era.
Canelo himself has moved up the weights but now, as an established middleweight, holds the world boxing council’s prestigious green strap and looks determined to cement his place as a superstar of the sport.
Canelo (46-1-1) enters the ring as a huge favorite for this fight. His power, ring-smanship and mental resilience have shown us just how devastating a fighter he can be. His last two outings are prime examples of what Alvarez brings to the ring. Last November he came up against the future hall of famer Miguel Cotto and looked improved and fought more intelligently than we have seen before. Canelo won by unanimous decision after a well fought fight that may have even sent Cotto into retirement. This was a closer fight than the judges’ scorecards suggested, one judge had the fight 119-109 when the general consensus amongst the boxing fraternity was closer to 115-113. Before that was the eagerly anticipated match up with knockout specialist James Kirkland. Canelo stood in Kirkland’s pocket as the two traded blows in the first, only for Kirkland to succumb to the accuracy of the Mexicans power. The second round was much like the first and in the third round Canelo dropped Kirkland with an uppercut before the Texan bravely rose to his feet only to be the victim of what many called the KO of the year.
Enter the challenger, Amir Khan. Possibly the fastest hands in boxing today. Air tight jabs. Smooth footwork. Glass chin? Many believe he has bitten off more than he can chew in stepping up two weight classes to face one of the most formidable opponents in boxing today. Most people would agree that every time Khan has stepped up in class he has come unstuck. Danny Garcia proved that if you can ride the early onslaught of fast jabs and hooks and connect with your own hard punches in bunches, the evening will not bode well for ‘King’ Khan. Lamont Peterson, even though not an elite level fighter, beat Khan whilst staying away from Khans advances and connecting with his own fast shots. Even if we go back to the early days of the Breidis Prescott fight, Khan was knocked out in the first round by an unknown fighter from Colombia. His chin is questionable but has his trainer, Virgil Hunter, worked on this with him to make him more of an Andre Ward type fighter? This seems like a tall order. Time will tell.
Amir Khan is stepping up two weight divisions for this fight but remains adamant that his speed will remain the same. He will be bulked up by the time he enters the ring although it remains to be seen if he can rival Canelo in the punch power stakes. Khans last 5 fights have all gone the distance whereas Canelo has 2 knockouts in his last 5 as well as a career knockout ratio of 67%. All of that stats seem to suggest that Canelo should walk away with the win relatively unscathed, however the Khan camp see this differently.
Virgil Hunter has seen the blueprint of how to beat Canelo. Floyd Mayweather jnr beat Canelo over 12 rounds with relative ease. He used his speed and fast footwork to get in, connect and get out. Erislandy Lara lost via a split decision to Canelo using the very same tactics. Khan is faster than both of them. He doesn’t have the boxing acumen of Mayweather, but who does, but if he can stay away from Canelo for the entirety of the fight he may well stand a good chance of getting the decision. There is one problem to this tactic – Canelo has improved after his loss to Floyd. He will be determined to cut off the ring and not allow Khan room to maneuver. He is a master of dictating movement inside the ring and his punching power is renowned.
On a personal level, I am unsure if Khan can either take Canelo’s shots or be able to move freely around the ring as he would like. Failure in one of the two will end in a quick nights work for the fighter from Guadalajara, who will be fighting on Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, in front of many fellow Mexicans in the newly built T-Mobile arena, Las Vegas.
With a mega fight with Gennady Golovkin on the horizon, Canelo can surely not afford to lose this fight. Khan on the other hand will still have options in the welterweight division including a massive domestic fight with IBF champion Kell Brook which the British public have been demanding for some time.
Amir Khan has been chasing big names for over 2 years now. Floyd rejected his advances, Manny did the same but now Saul Alvarez has taken up the opportunity to face the Brit in a catchweight fight. Why? For Canelo this fight has little risk. He sees this as a warm up fight for Golovkin but with huge exposure. Has Khan been deserving of a super fight? Many believe not. Only time will tell.
On the 7th of May 2016 at the T- mobile arena on the Las Vegas strip we will either see one of boxing’s greatest upsets or another notch on Canelo’s green belt.
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