By Dexter Reyes
When the Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan fight was first being rumored, I thought this had to be another joke to catch attention and headlines. I remember Khan was trying to chase a fight with Floyd Mayweather and that fight never materialized because for some reason even after winning a poll where Floyd asked fans to pick his next opponent, Floyd decided to avoid him and fight Marcos Maidana instead.
Khan was never given a shot at the unbeaten Mayweather even after the Maidana fights, instead for Floyd’s last bout he fought Andre Berto and retired on an easy unanimous decision victory over a safe opponent. Once Floyd retired, Khan set his sights on the next biggest name and legend in Manny Pacquiao, the fight nearly happened with both sides coming close to an agreement only for it to fall during the final stage of negotiation. Pacquiao eventually went on to fight Timothy Bradley in a rubbermatch winning and retiring.
Khan was left without an opponent. So naturally he went after the next biggest name in boxing and that was Saul “Canelo” Alvarez a middleweight boxer who just won the WBC belt over Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto. Like I said earlier, I thought this was just a joke rumor, but that joke, turned out to be legit and Khan would move up from welterweight all the way to middleweight to fight Canelo. It reminded me of the time when Oscar De La Hoya actually fought the little Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao who came up from the lower featherweight division to 147 pounds. The Pacquiao vs De La Hoya fight was a joke initially, but once the fight was signed nobody gave Pacquiao a shot. The critics of the fight said even this past his prime Oscar is still too good, too big and too strong for the shorter Pacquiao. People said that the fight wouldn’t last more than a few rounds or the fight would last as long as Oscar wanted it too, 90 percent of boxing writers picked Oscar to win easy against Pacquiao. The fight happened and Pacquiao proved everyone wrong by boxing circles around Oscar eventually making him quit on his stool, it was a cherry pick gone wrong and David beat Goliath in one of the biggest upsets in boxing.
Although Oscar was drained and weakened against Pacquiao, it still showed that the speed, angles and boxing the perfect fight is what made Pacquiao beat the much bigger man. Canelo is not washed up, he won’t be drained, he is younger than Khan and has less wear and tear on him, but unlike Pacquiao who was diminutive in size, Khan is taller and longer than his middleweight foe.
As I studied the fighters, I started to believe in Khan more and more. I thought he had little shot to win because he has shown to be chinny in the past, but looking at his skill set and determination he has the tools to beat Canelo. He will box Canelo like Pacquiao did to Oscar. Khan has longer reach, he has the height and he is faster of hand and foot. If you watch Canelo fighting against faster boxers primarily the long armed Floyd Mayweather and Erislandy Lara, he doesn’t like to pressure fight. Canelo is a natural counter puncher he can press the fight slowly but rather wait for you to try and trade with him so he can throw a fast counter to clip you. That didn’t work with Mayweather, Floyd was able to box and touch Canelo from a distance and easily get out. Khan will use his long range, and his speed of hand and foot and box Canelo up and confuse him, constantly turning him and making Canelo miss with his shorter arms.
In Canelo’s most recent fight against Miguel Cotto, a lot of people thought he lost that fight or scored it a draw. The fight was close but I felt Cotto did enough to win, Canelo got the victory and the WBC middleweight championship. I felt Cotto was boxing and moving well, Canelo didn’t do enough, he landed some hard shots, but he was getting boxed up by the veteran. That Cotto fight is another reason I have hope in Khan, if the shorter, slower Cotto can box Canelo up like that Khan can do it too.
The Canelo-Khan fight is not a mismatch at all. The only reason Khan is being counted out is because of his chin, people question his ability to take a punch after he was knocked out by Danny Garcia. Khan has learned from his mistakes, he will not stay still long enough for Canelo to have an opportunity to test his chin, and if Khan gets hurt he knows how to clinch now, before he rarely clinched. Under Virgil Hunter he will have a teacher who will devise an expert game plan. If anything, Canelo stylistically will only have a punchers chance, let us just hope the judges are fair, because we know Canelo has gotten questionable decisions in the past.
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