Having fought brilliantly for five rounds, Amir Khan was knocked out by a superb punch from Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in his WBC Middleweight world title fight on Saturday night. However, the Brit's performance still deserves to be commended.
Firstly, the sheer bravery in moving up a weight to take on one of the best fighters active in the Mexican Alvarez and then agreeing to fight him on Cinco de Mayo weekend (a Mexican national holiday), takes guts.
This bravery appears to have had a positive influence on the division in general, as Canelo is now finally expressing a willingness to fight Gennady "GGG" Golovkin.
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With a record of 35-0 (32 KO), 12 KOs in his last 12 fights and the WBA and IBF World Titles at middleweight, Golovkin has a strong, longstanding claim to a fight for the WBC belt to unify his titles. Yet until now, he has been denied this opportunity by Canelo. Khan's willingness to fight anyone by taking the Alvarez bout increased the pressure on the Mexican to agree to fight Golovkin.
Secondly, Khan dominated the first five rounds, winning four and drawing one on the card. Although not hitting with power, Khan's jab did cause problems for Canelo in the early part of the fight, while allowing the Bolton fighter to control the pace, a huge achievement given the difference in weight between the two.
Throughout the fight, Khan attacked. Even when hit with a strong jab to the body, he attempted to respond with a head shot, unfortunately, it was this that left him out of position and exposed to Canelo's thunderous knockout punch.
However, if the 29-year-old can repeat these skills at welterweight, where he will not face a fighter of Canelo's size and consequentially heavy punches, he may win the fight. An all-British fight between Khan and undefeated Kell Brook now seems highly likely. There is also talk of a rematch between Khan and Danny Garcia.
Therefore, in spite of his defeat, Khan walks away from the fight with credit for his bravery and has strengthened his claims for a world title fight at welterweight.
Ironically, having chosen to defend his WBC belt against a fighter from a lower division, it is now Canelo who must prove his championship credentials by facing and defeating Golovkin.