Canelo Alvarez Says He’s Not a Middleweight; Amir Khan Thinks He Might Be

Fightland Blog

By Nick Wong

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The press conference leading up to the fight between lineal middleweight champion Canelo Álvarez and former welterweight contender Amir Khan was a bit strange to say the least. Earlier this week, reporters spoke with both Álvarez and Khan on details surrounding the bout, specifically on the issue of weight. As fans probably remember, the May 7th bout will be contested at a catch-weight of 155lbs, which under normal circumstances would favor the smaller contender in a contest between a welterweight and a middleweight, but according to Álvarez, he shouldn’t be competing at that weight in the first place.

“I’m not a middleweight,” Alvarez said. “I’m a super welterweight. That’s my weight class. I wanted to fight this time for some sort of title at super welter.”

Khan, on the other hand, arrived to quite the opposite conclusion regarding his own weight, stating that his recent training camp has indicated that maybe he should have moved up a couple of divisions long ago.

"I've been in training camp for the past six weeks doing strength and conditioning,” said Khan. “I felt really strong, too big for my weight class, and I've been killing myself trying to come down in weight. Maybe it turns out that Amir Khan is meant to be a middleweight.

While the fight is still eight weeks out, the real attention has been placed on what the comments meant for a potential bout between Álvarez and current IBF and WBA champ Gennady Golovkin. Most analysts view the current weight stipulation as the continuation of what appears to be an ongoing trend for the Mexico native who has fought his last four bouts either at or slightly below 155lbs, and most expect him to demand the same of Golovkin, should both fighters win their next bouts. Though Álvarez didn’t outright say that he’d require a catch-weight in a hypothetical Golovkin bout, other comments seemed to suggest that he would.

“Look, I’ve given many concessions. I’ve given up many advantages. I’ve done it throughout my career to get to this point where I’m at,” Alvarez said through Golden Boy VP Eric Gomez. “One thing I’m not going to do, I’m not going to give up any concession or any advantages to GGG. I’m in the position where I deserve and I’ve earned my spot. So is the fight going to get made? It’s going to get made. But the conditions have to be right. I have to feel comfortable and he has to feel comfortable as well.”

Gomez commented further on the matter, backing his fighter’s stance.

“There’s a big misconception, people keep calling Canelo a middleweight,” Gomez said. “Look at his record. The highest he ever fought was at 155. He can still make 154 comfortably and he said it all along: Whenever his body feels that he has to make the change and jump, that’s when he’ll do it. He’s not a middleweight. The only reason he became middleweight champion is because he wanted to fight Miguel Cotto.”

Should both Golovin and Álvarez win their upcoming contests, a potential bout between the two was originally scheduled to take place in the fall of 2016, but now Álvarez says he wouldn’t mind waiting until 2017, and also mentioned that he has no plans to vacate the WBC title. This may prove interesting since the sanctioning body has gone on record saying the winner of the bout between Khan and Álvarez has 15 days to begin negotiations with Golovkin, who currently is the WBC interim champion, and whichever boxer refuses the fight will lose their respective status. No word on how disagreements over a catch-weight stipulation might affect that ruling.

In this era of boxing, with the multitude champions and sub-champions being crowned in an ever-growing sea of sanctioning bodies, finding a true champion can be a confusing affair. What is happening now only makes the matter that much more difficult. Championship fights should never be contested at a catch-weight. The true definition of a champion is one who has defeated a division’s best version of the best fighter in a contest where both sides were allowed to prepare to their fullest capacity. In the case of the middleweight division, that means allowing a fighter to weigh-in at the limit that has been mandated throughout the lifetime of the sport.

Canelo Álvarez has all the right in the world to move into the middleweight division at a pace in which he’s comfortable. That is his right as a fighter and a human being. But he shouldn’t call himself a “champion” while doing it.  


Check out these related stories:

Gennady Golovkin Calls Alvarez/Khan ‘Bad for Boxing’

The WBC Defends Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan Middleweight Title Fight