Can Amir make ‘Canelo’ disappear?

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

This Sunday’s (Manila time) showdown between World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and chal-lenger Amir ‘King’ Khan is undeniably the biggest fight in pro boxing since last year’s welterweight title clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

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The outcome of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, of course, left a sour taste in the mouth. This puts the pressure on Alvarez and Khan to deliver the goods because the sport cannot afford another black eye.

Taking into account the styles of Khan and Alvarez, all point to an intriguing and exciting fight ahead. Khan (31-3, 19 knockouts) has above-par boxing skills and hand speed, but unlike Mayweather he is not scared to swim into rough waters. In fact, not a few have pointed to Khan’s penchant to stray from his fight plan as his primary weakness. Then again, the prevailing opinion is that Khan is actually forced to trade leather because his condition is highly suspect. When his legs start to betray him, Khan is forced to bite his teeth and trade.

As he takes on the bulkier Alvarez, Khan is facing the same dilemma. The Briton has bulked up consid-erably for the fight which will be fought at the catchweight of 155 pounds, but it remains to be seen if he has also galvanized his chin. Pressure fighters/punchers like Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia gave Khan serious problems at junior welterweight (140 lbs.). Khan never really established himself at welterweight (147 lbs.) and now he is moving up to middleweight without the benefit of a tune-up match.

Alvarez (46-1, 32 knockouts) is far from being infallible, too. Here is a middleweight champion who doesn’t even want to scale the full 160 pounds. Throughout his career, Alvarez has been hounded by accusations that he has been fed with an assortment of foes barely removed from the intensive care unit. When Alvarez finally got into a big fight with Mayweather Jr., he froze and lost by decision.

Alvarez looked spectacular in knocking out American puncher James Kirkland in three rounds last year, but Kirkland was the same troubled soul who had been stopped in one round by Nobuhiro Ishida in 2011. Alvarez has not really faced a legitimate middleweight and the landscape is no different as he takes on Khan. Alvarez was in fact chastised by fight fans for picking Khan instead of legit middleweight counterpart Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32 knockouts).

Consistency is Alvarez’s main problem. He looks excellent when putting a three, four-punch combina-tion, but there are also occasions when he looks bored and just throws one bomb at a time with his hands down and his chin fully exposed. Alvarez though is a very good body puncher and many see his wicked hooks to the breadbasket as an investment that will result in huge dividends in the Khan fight.

Khan will have to stay on his toes, box in circles and keep the jab up. Alvarez loves to throw straight combinations from a stand-up stance and Khan cannot stay in front of the Mexican. The guess is that Khan will look good in the early rounds before Alvarez starts to slow down the Briton with huge body shots. The moment Khan becomes stationary, look for Alvarez to switch his assault upstairs. Khan has never set foot in the middleweight range and it will be interesting to see how his chin will hold up in a heavier weight class. The popular guess is that Alvarez will overwhelm him.

After Khan, one can only hope that Alvarez will pick on somebody his size for his next fight. Only one fighter comes to mind: Golovkin.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com.

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