When it was announced back in February that Amir Khan would step up two weight classes to fight Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez it is safe to say the boxing world was shocked. Khan had been searching for a career defining 'super fight' for a number of years after rebuilding his resume following defeats to Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson, but few anticipated that this opportunity would arise.
Canelo was being touted to face the unbeaten pound for pound star Gennady Golovkin, whilst Khan was hopelessly pursuing Floyd Mayweather whilst shying away from a bout with IBF Welterweight champion and fellow Brit Kell Brook, stating numerous times that Brook was beneath him.
Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley's names had all been associated with Khan but once three of these men had already arranged fights for the spring, and with neither Garcia or Khan keen on a rematch, he was left a little in the wilderness. But due to a lack of substance in the rumours linking Canelo and Golovkin, the two camps became unlikely negotiating partners and soon a headline-grabbing fight was in the making.
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The only issue was weight and with Canelo owning the WBC world title at middleweight, he was unwilling to step down. Luckily, Khan was more than happy to move up to 155 pounds in pursuit of a world title at a second weight in his career. There are few more lucrative fights out there for Khan than this one and although he is taking an enormous risk stepping up two weight classes, it is an opportunity that he would've been foolish to turn down.
The bout will take place at the brand new T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas, another incentive that was too hard to ignore for Khan who has based himself in the US for many years now.
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With this fight, Khan can become relevant again in the upper echelons of the boxing world and despite the obvious physical disadvantages he faces, he does have an outside chance of pulling off one of boxing's biggest upsets in recent memory. The world will be watching on May 7 and Khan will be hoping to steal the spotlight from his highly regarded Mexican counterpart who goes into this weekend as the overwhelming favourite.
Canelo (46-1-1) has lost just once in his stellar career and that was to the unparalleled Floyd Mayweather back in 2013, at the tender age of just 23. He is the number one ranked middleweight in the world by The Ring Magazine and although Gennady Golovkin may have something to say about that, there is no doubt that Alvarez is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
He is a two-weight world champion and has victories over some huge names, namely Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto, who he defeated last year and is undoubtedly his marquee win as a professional. Alvarez is only half an inch taller than Khan at five foot nine and actually has a slightly shorter reach but he is naturally a much bigger man who will look to bully Khan in the ring.
Alvarez possesses elite punching power and a chin as solid as anyone in the sport having never suffered a knock down in a professional bout. His boxing skills are superb and he is able to box on the front foot and on the counter with equally devastating results.
Canelo will most likely look to march forward and take the fight to Khan, who does not have the punch power to worry him, and if the fight turns into any kind of war there will only be one winner. Khan has a notoriously shaky chin and will need to be wary of prolonging exchanges as if he gets caught by Canelo it will be lights out.
Alvarez is a big puncher amongst middleweights and thus, a naturally smaller and lighter man will feel his power even more. Khan must box and move if he is to win this fight, using his speed to get in and out before Alvarez has a chance to counterpunch and put combinations together.
Khan has exceptionally fast feet and hands and will need to box at range using these tools to his advantage. It will become hard at times for him with Canelo marching forward, especially if he gets pinned on the ropes, and he will have to show a much tighter defence than he usually does to block punches and stay out of harm's way.
Khan never backs away from a challenge as is evident by him taking this fight in the first place, but he does get too brave for his own good at times. If he gets drawn into a scrap like he did against Lamont Peterson he stands no chance as Alvarez will simply bully him and blast him out of the ring with his superior power and size.
Khan needs to drag the fight out and hope Canelo tires, which isn't likely but it is his best hope of winning as any stoppage is not going to be in his favour. Canelo went 12 brutal rounds with Miguel Cotto in November and is no stranger to going the distance in world title fights as he has done in the past with Mayweather, Lara and Austin Trout amongst others.
Khan's speed will certainly be a factor but Canelo is smart and will try to nullify this by working the body and using his size to stay close and engage the Brit in a physical battle.
This fight is hugely intriguing for so many reasons; the contrast of speed and power, Khan stepping up in weight, the lack of a common opponent to draw comparisons from and many more.
The task is an enormous one for the British boxer and he will need to execute the perfect game plan to stand a chance of getting the win. His speed gives him an outside chance, but Canelo is the favourite for a good reason and the bigger, more powerful man should prevail on Saturday.
The implications of a loss are heavy on both men with a world title on the line, but especially for Khan who may struggle to ever re-establish himself as one of the best fighters in the world if he loses for a fourth time in his career. Whatever happens, the bout will capture the attention of the boxing world and Vegas is all set up for a true 'super fight'.
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