Golden Boy Promotions head honcho Oscar De La Hoya pulled off a shocker when he recently announced that World Boxing Council (WBC) middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) will be defending the title against Briton Amir Khan (31-3, 19 knockouts) on May 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pairing is quite odd, like Michael Jackson tying the knot with Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie back in the 1990s.
On paper, Alvarez-Khan makes for a marquee matchup. Scratch the surface, however, and you will stumble on several defects in this bout.
Officially, the fight will be for Alvarez’s initial defense of the middleweight championship. Nothing wrong with this until you are told that the match will be held at the contracted weight of 155 pounds. The maximum weight limit in the middleweight class is 160 pounds, but Alvarez has never weighed more than 155 pounds since moving up to the division last year. The Mexican has been heavily criticized for creating what many call the “Canelo Weight Class” and his insistence on putting a weight cap in his fights is an affront to the great and legendary champions in the division who took on legitimate, full-blown 160-pounders.
For some time now, boxing fans have been hankering for a megabuck showdown between Alvarez and monster-hitter (34-0, 31 knockouts) Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez actually exclaimed after beating Miguel Angel Cotto last year that he was more than ready to take on WBA and IBF champion Golovkin, but when Golovkin made it clear that the fight can only happen at 160 pounds, Alvarez’s camp grew inexplicably silent. The next thing we know, Alvarez’s picked Khan who is not even a legitimate middleweight. The choice of Khan is actually a relief to some, considering that Alvarez’s handlers reportedly thought of tapping the services of trialhorse Gabriel Rosado.
Then again, the fact that Khan is getting a shot at the WBC middleweight title when he has not even fought in the division is an insult to the challengers in the weight class who have been feverishly battling each for the No.1 ranking. Khan has been relatively inactive, having fought only once in 2015 as he tried to pursue matches with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Overall, Khan has figured in only three matches at welterweight (147 pounds) and did not really register eye-popping performances. When you think about it, Khan is getting the fight with Alvarez because he offers a marketable name and not because he has solid credentials at middleweight. Taking into account the money the match is likely to generate, the WBC figures to sanction the fight in a wink of an eye.
This early, Alvarez is the smart money bet to pulverize Khan.
Khan offers great hand speed but the extra weight is expected to take its toll on him. Khan is also vulnerable to pressure fighters (just check out the fight with slugger Marcos Maidana) and his shaky chin is likely to betray him again once the bulky Alvarez crowds him on the inside and pelts him with vicious power shots to the head and body.
Inevitably, Alvarez will have to swap leather with Golovkin and scale the 160-pound plateau if he wants to be taken seriously. Golovkin is booked to defend his crowns on April 23 against mandatory challenger Dominic Wade and hopes a victory will pave the way for a unification showdown with Alvarez. Alvarez is actually using the Khan fight as a tune-up, but style-wise the Brit does not in any way resemble Golovkin. Against Khan, Alvarez will just look to boost his confidence, synthetic it may be.
For comments, the writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.