In an odd and unexpected turn of events, Mexican superstar Canelo Álvarez signed a deal yesterday to defend the WBC middleweight championship against British native Amir Khan on May 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight is a peculiar choice to say the least. Khan saw his best fights at super lightweight, and even there he was knocked senseless by Bredis Prescott and Danny Garcia. While he's won all four fights since his move to welterweight, they’ve mostly come against either mid-level or past-their-prime opposition. Both Julio Diaz and Luis Collazo had seen better days before fighting Khan, and Devon Alexander has had mixed results at welterweight. Chris Algieri is only really known for getting the brakes beat off him by Manny Pacquiao, and still Khan struggled in their fight back in May. However, that sort of resume is apparently enough to warrant a match against the lineal middleweight champion of the world.
"As the middleweight champion of the world, I will take on the best fighters in the sport and on Cinco De Mayo weekend, I look forward to making the first defense of my titles," said Álvarez in a statement released by Golden Boy promotions. "Amir was a decorated amateur, a two-time world champion and is in the prime of his career. Fans are in for a great fight on May 7."
I guess part of that statement is true. Amir Khan is probably recognized as one of the more talented fighters in the sport, and in the prime of his career. What he failed to mention is that the recognition and the prime fighting shape comes in at a full two weight classes below the division in which Álvarez is the supposed king. It’s as if Álvarez has completely disregarded the concept of weight divisions and randomly plucked a name from a hat.
A 155-lb catch weight clause has been set in place for the bout, which would appear as a slight advantage for Khan, though with all the fuss that Álvarez made about holding the same weight limit in a potential match against Gennady Golovkin, it doesn't seem like the weight restriction will be of any consequence to the Mexican. Álvarez is on track to hopefully face the rugged Kazakh in the near future, and was in need of a soft touch to ensure things don't fall apart for the potential showdown. I guess he decided to play it extra safe by choosing Khan.
"I know Canelo fights the best and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to face me like others have," Khan said. "My goal is to always fight the biggest names and the best fighters. That is why I'm excited for this fight. Also, I would like to thank my team and Golden Boy Promotions for this opportunity. I know I have the speed and ability to beat him and will give my fans what they deserve on May 7."
Khan has since been on a five-fight win streak since his last loss against Danny Garcia in 2012, and had been passed up for a number of higher profile fights, most notably the final fight for Floyd Mayweather Jr. as well as Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming farewell fight in April. Since then, Khan has been eyeing a potential showdown with fellow Brit Kell Brook, or a rematch against Garcia, who most recently won the WBC stake at welterweight. Nobody in the boxing world expected Alvarez as his next opponent, probably because it's a bit ridiculous to propose the matchup, given the weight disparity and the susceptibility of Khan’s chin. By all practical estimations, the fight is one of the biggest mismatches announced in recent history.
The only way for Khan to have a conceivable chance at winning is to box his way to a decision victory, but with the power and weight advantage of Álvarez, as well as the fact that the Mexican is slated to be the next big draw in boxing, that outcome is unlikely. It would be incredibly humorous and satisfying for Khan to pull the upset, but that would also derail all prospects of Álvarez vs. Golovkin, which of course is what fans really want to see. But I guess that fight would also depend on whether or not Álvarez ever decides to actually compete as a middleweight, and take on the legitimate contenders of the division he supposedly rules, because he sure as hell isn’t doing either
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