Canelo’s Physicality Will Overwhelm Khan’s Speed – This Saturday night Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 46-1-1 (32) will meet Amir Khan 31-3 (19) for the WBC world middleweight title at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez is the lineal middleweight champion, meaning he holds the lineal title dating back to Harry Greb, Sugar Ray Robinson and Carlos Monzon – yet he has never fought once in 48 professional bouts as a full-fledged middleweight. His opponent, Amir Khan, won his first professional title seven years ago as a lightweight. Khan has been stopped twice in his career, once as a lightweight and once as a super lightweight/junior welterweight….and has never once fought as a junior middleweight, let alone a middleweight.
Much has been written about Alvarez-Khan, but before anything else is said, it must be made clear and perfectly understood that……It’s another bout that has a catch-weight stipulation attached to it with the hope of adding legitimacy to the fight. In reality the catch-weight clause actually makes it a bigger farce. Instead of the fighters not being allowed to weigh in above the middleweight limit of 160, they must weigh in at 155 or less. And as I said in an earlier column, understand what it is you’re buying on PPV and if you are offended by the terms of the fight, don’t buy it — because if you’re expecting an action packed bout with sustained action, I doubt you’ll see it here.
Canelo vs. Khan is a very good business maneuver for the fighters, but it’s a pending disaster for boxing fans. If by some fluke Khan goes the distance and loses a close decision, Alvarez can blame his mediocre showing on Amir’s quickness and how he is troubled by smaller fighters with speed who refuse to engage him. On the other hand, if Khan gets trounced or knocked out, he can legitimately say “one hundred and fifty-five pounds was too much for me; I’ll do better at my natural weight.” However, both fighters are going to make a lot of money and they’re fighting a big name opponent with a built in caveat in case they lose or look bad. Something they can move on from if that’s how it plays out. And because of the weight and perceived disparity in size, they’ll both be in a position to look up or down a weight division when they next fight.
Khan can move on and fight undefeated welterweight Kell Brook in what would be a huge fight in the UK even if Canelo demolishes him, because that’s what Canelo was supposed to do. As for Canelo, if he looks like a destroyer against a fighter moving up who probably can’t even annoy him with his limited punch at the higher weight, his stock will go up and it’ll be said he can handle a good boxer with speed and mobility better than he could a few years ago when Floyd Mayweather took him to school.
As for the fight, Oscar De LA Hoya says he likes Amir’s chances….”He must adhere absolutely to his game plan. He will have to fight the perfect fight. If he does that, if he stays on the outside and moves from side to side and uses that speed of his, in and out, he not only wins but wins easily.”
On paper that sounds plausible, but ask yourself this: can Amir Khan via his speed force Canelo to do anything that he doesn’t want to do? I say, other than chase, not really. De La Hoya pointed to Sugar Ray Leonard utilizing his speed and out-boxing Marvin Hagler as an example as to how Khan can win. Only he left out that Leonard also had enough pop in his punch which prevented Marvin from pursuing him as if he were handcuffed. And to that I don’t see Khan having guns big enough to emulate Leonard. Canelo is fearless and he takes a great shot, I doubt even the heavier Khan has the needed power to discourage him.
Actually, the fight could be similar to De La Hoya’s bout with Bernard Hopkins. Yes, for a little while Oscar’s speed bothered Hopkins and prevented Bernard from going through him. But eventually he had to fight, and when that happened, De La Hoya’s speed succumbed to Hopkins’ natural strength and power. When the bigger fighter goes down in weight and fights the smaller fighter, the smaller fighter usually wins. But Alvarez vs. Khan is the opposite. The bigger fighter is staying at his natural weight, and it’s the smaller and lighter fighter who is being forced to fight big. It worked for Hopkins against Antonio Tarver, but Bernard was the superior fighter. If Canelo and Khan were both flyweights, it’s debatable that Amir is even the better technician. Add to that he can’t hurt Alvarez and it’s pretty much a given that Alvarez can hurt him with anything he lands cleanly to the head or the body….then how do you think the fight will end up?
Everybody is making a big deal out of Khan’s quickness and ability to box on the move, assuming he hasn’t been slowed by the added weight. However, at the end of the day, regardless how close Khan keeps the fight, it will be Canelo’s superior physicality that will prevent the upset. Amir doesn’t have the ability to neutralize the gap in physicality the way Mayweather did when he fought Alvarez. Khan may put up a better fight than most imagined when the bout was first announced – but when it’s over, the bull-like Canelo’s abundance in boxing strength and power will ultimately be a bridge too far for Amir to navigate across.
I salute Khan for taking the risk and fighting Alvarez, but he’s in a no lose and everything to gain situation and I doubt he’ll be hurt or injured at the hands of the stronger and harder punching Canelo.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com