Earlier today, Saul Alvarez vs. Amir Khan was announced for May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The WBC has sanctioned this bout as for their version of the middleweight title, even though Canelo will once more be fighting at a catchweight of 155 pounds.
If my social media feeds are any indication, and I suspect that they are, boxing fans are less than enthusiastic about this bout. Canelo vs. Gennady Golovkin was the fight at the top of everybody’s must-see list entering 2016. After Golovkin knocked out David Lemieux in October to unify the WBA and IBF middleweight titles and Alvarez beat Miguel Cotto to claim the WBC and lineal championships, a clash between the two seemed inevitable.
Perhaps it still is. But as Golden Boy chief Oscar De La Hoya told HBO’s “The Fight Game” last year, GGG vs. Canelo “needs time to marinate.” So in the meantime, we will be getting Alvarez vs. Amir Khan.
To be honest, I don’t view this as a terrible fight. Khan has great hand and foot speed and boxing talent. He’ll be the smaller man in this bout, but actually has a length advantage of one-half inch. I have my doubts about his chin’s ability to stand up to Canelo’s bigger punches. But I can see him, at least potentially, doing a good job of avoiding those punches and landing his own heavy blows.
The fight is still a bit of a hard sell as a pay-per-view. Khan was knocked out in the first round by Breidis Prescott in 2008 and Danny Garcia in Round 4 in 2012. He deserves a spot in the top-five ranking at welterweight, but a move up to face a bigger man with a heavy punch is going to strike many fans and observers as a mismatch.
An even bigger problem is that this fight is being recognized as a middleweight title fight by the WBC. The middleweight limit is 160 pounds. Khan has never competed above 147 and Canelo still hasn’t been above 155. Alvarez’s status as the man who beat Miguel Cotto, who is the man who beat Sergio Martinez, does give him a strange, though legitimate, claim to the lineal title at middleweight. But it’s hard not to view that claim as cheapened, when he’s defending it against a welterweight, well below the true middleweight limit.