Underdog Khan confident of earning shock success in Canelo clash
Lee Gormley | May 2, 2016
Khan hopes to defy odds
Having finally gained the big name fight he craved, Bolton’s Amir Khan is now aiming to pull off one of the biggest shocks in boxing for many years when he collides with WBC middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas on Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo weekend.
The 29-year-old makes a massive step up two weight divisions to take on the powerful Mexican, having previously reigned supreme at light-welterweight when he held the unified IBF and WBA titles and he enters the T-Mobile Arena on the back of five straight victories.
Khan (31-3, 19 KOs), Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medallist, boasts wins over nine world champions during his professional career, including Marcos Maidana, Luis Collazo, Paulie Malignaggi, Marco Antonio Barrera and Zab Judah, but undoubtedly faces his toughest test to date in Nevada.
Canelo (46-1-1, 32 KOs) has become arguably the sport’s biggest global attraction in light of both Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao’s supposed retirements, with a unanimous decision triumph over Puerto Rican rival Miguel Cotto last November helping to propel him to further boxing stardom.
Despite the odds being heavily stacked against Khan in his latest outing on American soil, the two-time world champion is confident of stunning Canelo in the early hours of Sunday morning and takes to the ring at 5/2 with Coral for a successful showing.
Brains over brawn
British hope Khan had long been hunting down showdowns with both Mayweather and ‘Pacman’, but both fighters previously opted for other opponents, while compatriot Kell Brook has been desiring a domestic dust-up, but the former Olympian now finds himself up against boxing’s current most lucrative draw.
The Manchester fighter has been stopped twice in three defeats, being halted by both Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia, and has endured scares in other bouts with much smaller foes than Canelo, though the bulked-up contender is gunning for a historic night in Sin City.
“It’s the strongest I’ve been for any fight, having that little bit of extra weight can only give me that extra advantage in getting power but the speed is still there,” said Khan.
“All round I feel so much stronger as a fighter. I’ve sparred a lot of rounds with heavier guys and I’ve done a lot of strength work in my legs by training on sand to help with the later rounds.
“The speed is still there but this fight will be more mental — I have to win it with my brains. I can’t let my courage take over because it could get me in trouble, it has in the past, but I’m much smarter and wiser now.”
In a potentially career-defining encounter, Khan will need to use his speed and movement to limit the opportunities for Canelo to utilise his superior devastating power and must avoid being dragged into toe-to-toe encounters, with the middleweight title challenger 11/4 to gain a decision win in this 155-pounds catchweight match-up.
Khan relying on speed and skills
Golden Boy’s leading light Canelo has suffered just one career setback in his short but sweet career so far, when he was outclassed by Mayweather back in 2013, but he enters as the overwhelming favourite to prevail this weekend, and is 7/2 to end proceedings in rounds 1-3.
The fiery headed 25-year-old overcame all of Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara and James Kirkland before outpointing Cotto last year, and his British opponent is hoping to rely on his skills to avoid being drawn into a tear-up with a much bigger fighter.
“I used to get involved in tear-ups and take risks, like I did against Marcos Maidana,” continued Khan. “But I haven’t left myself open in my last few fights and relied on my skills to beat Chris Algieri, Devon Alexander and Luis Collazo on points.
“And that’s how I see this fight going. I will be too smart and too fast for him. The more videos I see of Canelo the more confident I am I will win this fight and become middleweight world champion, which will be huge, it will be a massive shock to the world. But not to me because I believe I can win this world title.”
‘King’ Khan ready to grab chance
Khan may have missed out on mega paydays from being shunned by the likes of Mayweather, but he is ready to take his chance against Canelo and rally towards what could be an incredible night in Sin City.
“I was chasing the Mayweather fight, the Pacquiao fight, and I really believe that if those fights happened they’d be easier than this fight,” added Khan. “This fight will be more physical and it will be me using my brains even more, because with Canelo I cannot make any mistakes.
“This fight shows who I am and I think a lot of young fighters should take a page out of my book and fight the best fighters out there rather than avoiding a lot of people out there. It shows I’m not scared of anyone.”
Dominant middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has been seeking a high-profile unification meeting with Canelo for some time, and the WBC have recently confirmed that the Mexican will be stripped of his crown if he refuses to face ‘GGG’ if he can get past Khan.
Speaking in response to claims by Alvarez’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya, that the bout needs further time to “marinate”, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said: “Oscar can say whatever he wants. It’s his right to do so, but we are also within our rights to take the title away from his boxer if he does not meet [his obligation].”
Such a declaration also means that ‘King’ Khan would be in pole position to take on the Kazakstan bulldozer if successful this weekend, but the Bolton-born contender will have his eyes firmly on dethroning Mexican superstar Canelo in what would unquestionably be the most impressive win of his career.
Watch Amir Khan training ahead of his showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, as Oscar De La Hoya keeps a close eye on things.