By: Marcus “Mook” Washington
When: May 7th, 2016
Where: Las Vegas, NV
Network: HBO PPV
On Saturday, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will make his first WBC middleweight title defense against Amir Khan in the sparkling new T-Mobile Arena. Many view this as nothing more than a minor speed bump on the road to a super bout between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin plans on sitting ringside for the bout hoping that it will put public pressure on Golden Boy to make the fight.
For Khan, this fight represents his first chance at beating a bona fide superstar. After striking out on deals with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, Khan happily moved up from his customary 148 lbs to a 155 catchweight. Many have questioned whether the move up will allow Khan to keep his biggest weapon which is speed. Also, there is a question of whether Khan has the chin to fight at 155 pounds.
Keys to Victory for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
- Let the Jab Lead the Way – Alvarez’ jab is more than just a set up punch. His jab possesses power and could lead the way to scoring with his other punches. Pumping the jab early on in the fight would cause Khan to become hesitant especially if Canelo feels like he can absorb Khan’s power.
- Opportunities for Punishment – Alvarez has the power advantage and when he has an opportunity to show it, he must. Working behind a powerful jab, he could back Khan up against the ropes. Unlike when he fought Mayweather, he can pin Khan and land powerful blows that will test Khan’s body and chin. This will cut down Khan’s movement early and get him into exchanges. Exchanges Khan doesn’t want.
- Go for the Knockout – A lot is on the line financially for Canelo because of the potential match up with Golovkin. Not only does Canelo need to win but win impressively. The Alvarez-Golovkin fight will happen but, just like Mayweather-Pacquiao, the financial split, along with the catchweight will be hurdles. Canelo will give himself even more leverage with a knockout win. Furthermore boxing needs a great fight on one of their annual signature weekends. It was no secret that Canelo hated that Mayweather Jr. had boxing’s grand stage on lock on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence weekend. This is Canelo’s chance to claim those big payday weekends for himself.
Keys to Victory for Amir Khan
- Discipline – Khan will need to keep the fight in the middle of the ring if he wants to have any chance at winning. He isn’t going to knock Canelo out so building an early lead is essential. Using his speed advantage will help him win rounds convincingly. The danger for Khan lies in the fact that many judges will score close rounds for the fighter who lands the most damaging blows and with Canelo’s power advantage, you have to assume those rounds will go to him.
- Stay Busy – Cotto threw more punches than Canelo, 629-484, but was less accurate. Canelo managed to land 32% of his punches to Cotto’s 21%. The difference between Khan and Cotto is 1) Khan’s hand speed and 2) Khan’s movement. If Khan stays the busier fighter and uses the ring similar to Erislandy Lara then he could get Canelo behind on the scorecards early.
- Win Early Rounds – When Sugar Ray Leonard upset Marvin Hagler, he did it by frustrating Hagler early with movement and combinations. Though neither Khan nor Canelo are Leonard or Hagler, Khan could use a similar game plan of frustrating the more powerful opponent early. Using the ring and punching in combinations could cause Canelo to slow himself down like he did against Mayweather Jr. This is where the corner comes into play. If Khan gets out to an early lead, can Canelo’s score outsmart Virgil Hunter and catch up?
It’s your classic “styles makes fights” match up. Alvarez’ power vs. Khan’s speed. Khan will almost have to fight the perfect fight like Leonard versus Hagler and avoid the same fate Lara did with the judges. Alvarez definitely has more power and more leeway.
Follow Marcus “Mook” Washington on Twitter at @mtcwithmook