The first super fight of 2016 is almost upon us.
Saul Alvarez makes his maiden defence of his WBC Middleweight title, and there is no surprise that the Mexican sensation has landed on HBO PPV.
For Amir Khan, this sort of exposure has been long awaited, the former Light Welterweight ruler has longed for a fight of this magnitude, and he takes the plunge into the deep end in order to capture it.
The contest will take place at 155lbs which has once again added controversy to the legitimacy of Alvarez’s title. Canelo holds so many advantages, but who really is taking the bigger risk?
Here are a few questions that have been fired about ahead of Canelo-Khan:
How much of a disadvantage is Khan at considering how much bigger Alvarez will be on the night?
The lack of a rehydration limit clause added to this contest will count as nothing more than a negative for Khan. Alvarez is well known for pilling on the pounds prior to getting inside the ring, and while it did not help him in the slightest when in the ring with Floyd Mayweather – and to an extent with true Light Middleweights Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara – it is likely to have greater effect on the smaller Khan.
But let’s be fair here, Khan isn’t looking like a dot compared to Alvarez, and it is highly unlikely that he will lose his speed – just in the same way that he won’t necessarily increase his power.
But still, naturally Alvarez is the bigger and stronger man, and should the contest take place in close then the size and strength difference will be telling.
While not a ferocious puncher, Alvarez throws solid punches that will gradually wear an opponent down. Ultimately it isn’t the power that will be the biggest concern for Khan, it will be the sheer strength that Alvarez will look to exert upon him from the early stages.
Will Alvarez struggle with the speed of Khan?
It has been rather apparent that Alvarez is slow of foot, even if he does have underrated hand speed. For stages an aged Miguel Cotto was able to score from the outside through good movement, but Cotto also had a good enough dig to keep Canelo at bay for some periods of the fight.
Mayweather is a master of his craft, but his speed of foot is not as good as Khan’s. It was Mayweather’s punch selection and punch evasion that bamboozled Alvarez as well as Canelo respecting Floyd’s defensive skills far too much. It was Lara who set a blueprint of sorts for others to follow.
(What some media members think on the fight – via HBO):
Lara, like Khan, can be drawn into exchanges, but he fires his best combinations from range and has the speed and movement that caused Alvarez fits. Many felt the Cuban was unfortunate to lose narrowly to Alvarez.
Should Khan put his combinations together with a little more regularity than Lara did, he should look to follow much of Erislandy’s game plan. Sticking a sharp and consistent jab into the grill of Alvarez will certainly cause the champion trouble.
If Canelo’s size and power can trouble Khan, then Amir can surely counteract that with his speed and movement.
What happens if Alvarez can’t hurt Khan?
The key for Alvarez is to remain patient, and not to be discouraged if his early punches have no effect on Khan. Canelo will be better off targeting the body of Khan early on, as the challenger is highly unlikely to engage in close until later in the contest.
There is a worry though for Alvarez. If he cracks Khan with a sweet right hand and Khan doesn’t budge, then will that pressure the Mexican in to forcing the action more than he would be wise to?
The more Alvarez lets his hands go when he is not set, the more likely he is to be picked off, and thus caught off balance.
Going into any contest convinced that the moment you land flush the fight could be over, is never a smart move. Goal number 1 must be to slowly break Khan down, outwork him down the stretch and ensure that Khan is moving his feet more than he is moving his hands.
On the other hand, what if Khan can’t take Alvarez’s best punches?
In this case then it’s simply game over. Khan can box smartly for the full 12 rounds, but even then he will not be able to avoid Alvarez’s punches all night.
However sometimes it’s best to take a jab in order to avoid a right hook. This works in the same way as a fighter would throw a left hook knowing full well he’ll miss but then coming through the middle with a straight right.
The best way to beat Alvarez if he cannot take his best shots, is to avoid his best shots. Easier said than done.
What happens next if Alvarez wins?
Win or lose, Canelo Alvarez will be losing his WBC Middleweight championship. As much as we would love to see a September showdown between two of boxing’s biggest stars in Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, the timing is not right on Alvarez’s part.
The only way that this fight takes place anytime soon is if Golovkin gives in to Canelo’s demands and fights at 155lbs. And given how supremely talented GGG is, it seems a risk worth taking.
But Golovkin has every right to say no to that and take the title regardless, after all he is the best Middleweight on the planet.
(A fight between the two has long been clamored for. Check out this epic build up video to a potential fight via OfficeHanchoBoxing):
It seems that Alvarez would remain where he is, and he would still be a huge draw even without the green belt. But even then there is no obvious superfight on the horizon for Alvarez without Golovkin.
A rematch with Lara or a bout with either of the Charlo twins will not exactly capture the imagination of the sporting world, even if they are all solid match-ups. And should he walk through Khan, will there be that much interest in Alvarez taking on another Welterweight?
With a rematch clause added to the contract, a narrow/controversial victory for Alvarez wouldn’t be such a bad scenario financially.
What happens next if Khan wins?
It would not come as a huge surprise if Khan took the risk in fighting Golovkin. The bigger the challenge seemingly the more Khan wants it. But let’s hope that Khan would take a step back on this one and hand over the crown for GGG.
A rematch would be very possible for later in the year, as would a megafight on British soil between Khan and Kell Brook. But if the Bolton fighter is coming fresh off victory over Alvarez then he will be driving a very hard bargain that would force Eddie Hearn to dig deep into his pockets.
Khan was in line to take on Danny Garcia as the mandatory challenger, and the chances are that he would still be in a strong position to clutch a rematch in another contest that could well be of PPV status.
In Amir Khan’s ideal world, Manny Pacquiao and/or Floyd Mayweather will be waiting in the sunset.
Don’t forget to check out Boxing News and Views’ Deano Gillen’s preview and prediction on this weekend’s big fight.
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