Amir Khan – The Leicester City Foxes clinched the 20-team Premier League title with games to spare when Tottenham and Chelsea played to a 2-2 draw on Monday, May 2. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was the biggest upset in any sport, ever.
At the start of the season, UK bookmakers were offering odds of 5,000 to 1 against Leicester City. At Ladbrokes, England’s biggest betting chain, the largest bet, $72, returned $106,000. All told, British bookmakers lost $25 million on future book wagers according to a story in the London Telegraph. Globally, the carnage had to be many times greater. And this was after bookmakers feverishly offered settlements to bettors holding potentially winning tickets.
Leicester City’s improbable triumph wasn’t lost on Amir Khan. The British boxer says he is inspired by their example. “I’m definitely going to use that to help me,” he said, “because it shows that even though people say you have no chance, what really matters is how you perform…I’m ready to shock Canelo Alvarez.”
The 29-year-old Kahn (31-3, 19 KOs) is a mere 4-to-1 underdog vs. Canelo in man-to-man betting, but many knowledgeable boxing fans think his chances are almost nil. He is moving up two weight classes to challenge the lineal middleweight champion. The 25-year-old Alvarez, a huge celebrity in Mexico, is 46-1-1 (32), the lone defeat coming at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. Although English boxing fans are boisterous and will be well-represented inside the 20,000-seat arena, Canelo will have the home field advantage in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Born in Bolton in Greater Manchester, Amir Khan won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the tender age of 17, becoming the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist ever. Being of Pakistani lineage, he can well identify with the folks in Leicester City, a city of 330,000 located roughly an hour’s train ride from London. Badly bruised by the decline in traditional manufacturing industries, Leicester City is the most ethnically diverse city in England. Approximately 55 percent of the population is comprised of immigrants and children of immigrants, many from the Indian subcontinent.
The Leicester City football (soccer) club has been around for 132 years. This is the team’s first Premier League title. The team was promoted to the Premier League only two years ago after an 11-year absence and came very close to being “relegated” (dropped down to a lower division) last year. The payroll for the entire team for the 2015-16 season was equivalent to the salary of the highest-paid player in the league.
Amir Khan is bouyed by the Leicester City story, a true life fairy tale, but will he still be buoyant when the smoke clears on Saturday night?