Saturday, May 7, 2016, Cinco De Mayo Weekend. The date which was occupied by Floyd Mayweather Jr in recent years will see Britain’s very own Amir Khan (31-3) challenge Mexico’s WBC and The Ring magazine's, lineal Middleweight world champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (46-1-1).
Arguably, the year’s most lucrative fight, it will be held at the newly built 20,000 capacity T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. With their faces having replaced the traditional poster of Floyd Mayweather Jr on the side of the MGM Grand, both fighters will be looking to make a statement and cement themselves as the face of boxing.
Canelo is undoubtedly boxing’s biggest name at the moment, now both Floyd Mayweather Jr (49-0) and Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2) have retired. The 25-year-old Mexican has already racked up an impressive record with notable victories over Miguel Cotto (40-5), Shane Moseley (49-9-1) and Erislandy Lara (26-2-2) to name a few.
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His sole defeat has come at the hands of none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr himself. Many argued the fight came too soon for the young Mexican and at a catch-weight of 152 lbs it was always going to be a big ask for the light-middleweight.
Since then however, Canelo has been impressive and has found a way to win his subsequent four fights. The heavy hitting Mexican has developed his skills from a young age having turned pro at the tender age of 16.
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His ability to trade with opponents and impressive upper body movement are his greatest assets and they have seen him come out of trouble and cover his sub-standard footwork. The fights against both Mayweather and Lara exposed his slow footwork and if he is to retain his titles on Saturday, his footwork will need to be perfect, as Khan will no doubt box rings around him if he is flat-footed.
On the other hand, we have Amir Khan, a global sporting icon and the fighter who over recent years has cemented the title of boxing’s fastest hands as his very own. The 29-year-old Olympic silver medalist and former two-time world champion has been chasing the likes of Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao for the best part of two years and has finally landed a dream bout.
With the Kell Brook fight looming over Wembley Stadium, many thought the all-Brit clash the British fans were hoping for would finally materialise. However, the boxing world has received something even better. Khan will move up two weight divisions to challenge Canelo; this epitomises his desire to fight the best, something he has always stated and chased.
The fight on Saturday will be a hard task for Khan, borderline impossible in many people’s eyes. Many expect to see a repeat of Khan’s most infamous nights. The night from all those years ago when he stepped up to face the hard-punching Bredis Prescott (29-7) and recently, the fourth round stoppage at the hands of Danny Garcia (32-0).
These fighters have given others a blueprint on how to beat Khan and Canelo’s style seems all too wrong for him. Khan’s tendency to get into wars may be his downfall, such was the case against Maidana, where he was almost gone on his feet, however the heart and chin he showed in that fight to get the win will give him hope going into the ring against a puncher like Canelo.
Khan has the chance to create history in this fight. The likes of Manny Pacquiao and Sugar Ray Leonard have managed to move up in weight and dethrone the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Marvin Hagler respectively. Not comparing Khan’s abilities to a prime Pacquiao or Leonard but the potential to repeat a modern day challenge like they did is there to be taken with both hands.
Khan certainly has the assets to pull off the victory. We’ve seen Canelo struggle with the speed and movement of fighters before and the Brit, on his night is a nightmare for any fighter if his movement and hand speed work simultaneously.
The key will be how fast he can get out of range from within the exchanges, something he failed to do against Garcia - a fight he was dominating before he got caught with a devastating left hook. Similarly to the Algieri fight last year - on the way to a unanimous decision victory, Khan was staying in range for too long and was at the wrong end of some solid right hands from Algieri.
However, recently we have seen him execute game plans to perfection; notably against former world champions Luis Collazo (36-7) and Devon Alexander (26-4). Khan demonstrated his lightning fast hand speed and excellent ring IQ. If he is to pull off the upset on Saturday, these skills will be essential.
Regardless of the result on Saturday night, Khan will have gained the respect of many by simply stepping up to such a challenge. The boxing world will have their eyes firmly set on the action and who knows, maybe history will be written by the self-proclaimed King himself.