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Fight Picks: Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan

Fighters Network
Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan meet on Saturday evening at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to fight for the RING and WBC middleweight championship at a catchweight of 155 pounds. The HBO Pay-Per-View broadcast begins at 9:00 ET/PT.

When the fight was announced in early February, it came from left field and caught everyone by surprise. Ever since then it has gotten people on both sides of the Atlantic talking.

The key questions center around whether Canelo (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) can deal with Khan’s movement and speed and if Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) can deal with Canelo’s strength and power. Whoever copes better will most likely win.

While the Brit of Paskistani heritage searched high and low for the superfight he felt he deserved, and when he never won the sweepstakes to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, he decided to roll the dice and step up eight pounds, missing the junior middleweight division entirely to face Canelo.

The assertion many arrive at is that Khan’s chin is vulnerable; he’s been stopped twice and is facing a naturally bigger man who will likely hold a significant weight advantage on fight night. However, the popular Mexican has struggled with slick boxers like Erislandy Lara and Floyd Mayweather Jr. asked 31 boxing insiders for their picks:

Roberto Duran, former four-weight world champion
It’s a very hard fight. Canelo is a strong boxer and he boxes a lot. Khan is strong too but he’s not too much of a puncher. I think it’s going to be a very hard fight. Canelo has to use his jab. He can’t let Khan attack him, he has to be prepared. The two guys don’t have too much defense; that’s what I see. It’s very hard to say that (who will win) because it’s going to be a very hard fight, I think personally there’s gonna be a knockout. I like both ÔǪ Canelo is like me because part of me is Mexican, the other guy is not my blood but he’s a good fighter too. Two people like me. I respect them.

Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO
Canelo Alvarez to beat Amir Khan: For me, it’s Canelo all the way. He’s just too big, too active and too good to beat Khan. But it will be a fun fight to watch, no doubt.

Stephen Edwards, trainer
Canelo Alvarez TKO Amir Khan: Canelo by a counterpunch TKO.

Norm Frauenheim, THE RING Magazine/
Canelo Alvarez KO 10 Amir Khan: Amir Khan has the skill-set to frustrate Canelo and even make him look bad in the same way Erislandy Lara did in losing a split decision to the Mexican in 2014. But Khan’s instincts promise to betray him in the late rounds. Canelo’s size, strength and aggressiveness will take an inevitable and punishing toll, leaving Khan depleted and unable to sustain the elusiveness he’ll use early and need late. A big combination from Canelo and a momentary lapse in a tiring Khan will end it.

Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest/The Sweet Science
Canelo Alvarez TKO 8 Amir Khan: For the first few rounds, Amir Khan will wheel around the ring like he’s on a bicycle throwing banana peels at the flat-footed Canelo Alvarez. By the midway point, Khan will appear to have built a lead on the scorecards, much to the surprise of ringside observers. When chants of “Canelo! Canelo!” turn into “Let’s Go Khan!” in Las Vegas, the catchweight champion of the world will crank up the pressure. After a well-placed body blow slows Khan down enough for Canelo to find his weak chin more easily, Alvarez will connect on a series of hard punches that discombobulate Khan just enough for Kenny Bayless to step in for the TKO with Khan slightly ahead on points. Rematch? It’s far more likely than a Canelo-GGG match.

Sean Gibbons, Zanfer matchmaker
Canelo Alvarez KO 6 Amir Khan: Anytime Canelo wants to end it!! Canelo has better skills and is too big for Khan.

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Canelo Alvarez (L) checks Miguel Cotto during their fight in November 2015. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Tom Gray,
Canelo Alvarez TKO8 Amir Khan: When the match was first announced I worried about Amir Khan’s safety because, for me, these guys are nowhere near the same size. Canelo gets down to 155 pounds because he’s 25 years of age and his body allows it but he’s a middleweight or, at the very least, he is a monstrous junior middleweight with power in both fists. Amir Khan has only had four wins at welterweight and all four have gone the distance. More importantly, in two of those fights, Khan was dropped and hurt badly by Julio Diaz and even the light-hitting Chris Algieri seemed to test his punch resistance.

In capsule form, we have a massive junior middleweight/middleweight who can punch viciously with both hands going up against a vulnerable welterweight who has been knocked out at 135 and 140 pounds. And we’re supposed to ignore that? Stylistically Khan is a nightmare for Canelo. The Englishman’s foot movement and hand speed will give the Mexican fits early but 12 rounds is a long time and Canelo is a lot cuter than he’s given credit for. After losing three or four rounds, I expect Canelo to thread home a lethal counterpunch which will knock Khan off his feet. The challenger may survive but the shock will send him into full retreat mode and that will give the bigger man serious momentum. I don’t expect Khan to survive too much longer after that.

Those who compare this fight to Marvelous Marvin Hagler versus Sugar Ray Leonard are miles away. Hagler, the natural middleweight, was in decline and Leonard would be the first person to tell you that. Also, The Sugarman could take a terrific punch. What did Floyd Mayweather do to Canelo? Simply put, that is Floyd Mayweather. We’re talking about one of the most defensively adept technicians in boxing history, a tag which one cannot attach to Amir Khan and, like Leonard, Mayweather could also absorb a direct hit. I hope I’m wrong and my admiration for Khan’s quest holds no bounds. Unfortunately I just can’t see how he can pull this off.

David Greisman,
Canelo Alvarez TKO Amir Khan: This is a highwire act, a smaller fighter facing a larger, more powerful one. There have been successes before: Roy Jones Jr. against John Ruiz for a heavyweight title and Manny Pacquiao against Oscar De La Hoya. Amir Khan is neither Jones nor Pacquiao. For that matter, Canelo Alvarez is not a weight-drained, aged De La Hoya, though we must wait to find out whether Canelo had any difficulty making 155. I think Khan will still have a good game plan and a bit of success, but I can’t get out of my mind the difficulty he had against Chris Algieri. Canelo will be able to catch Khan, and catching Khan means he should be able to hurt and stop him.

Lee Groves,
Canelo Alvarez KO 11 Amir Khan: If Alvarez and Khan were the same size and if Khan had a sturdy chin this fight probably would have never been made. That’s because Alvarez has struggled against boxers with good hand and foot speed (see Mayweather, Trout and Lara) that exploit his own slow feet and jam his trigger. But Khan is smaller, he doesn’t have a sturdy chin and he doesn’t punch hard enough at the weight to threaten Alvarez’s chin. Therefore, Khan must fight the perfect fight from first bell to last to score the upset while Alvarez only has to have a really good segment to turn everything around. Khan is good enough to establish an early lead but Alvarez is also good enough to score what may be a come-from-behind KO.

Robert Guerrero, welterweight contender
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: I think Khan will have some success in the early rounds if he’s able to avoid Canelo’s power-punches. As the fight goes on, Canelo will break him down. If he gets caught early the fight won’t last five rounds. That being said, I think Canelo will win by knockout in the middle rounds.

Devon Alexander (R) absorbs a shot from Amir Khan on his way to losing a wide unanimous decision in December 2014. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Devon Alexander (R) absorbs a shot from Amir Khan on his way to losing a wide unanimous decision in December 2014. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Andreas Hale,
Canelo Alvarez TKO 8 Amir Khan: The build toward this fight has done a magnificent job of convincing people that Amir Khan has more than a puncher’s chance at beating Canelo Alvarez. What was originally a gross mismatch is now viewed as competitive because of Khan’s boxing prowess, speed and experience. But, let’s be serious for a second. Unless Canelo has a serious malfunction, there’s nothing here that suggests that Canelo shouldn’t collect an impressive knockout victory. Did we forget that Khan doesn’t have a the sturdiest of chins? Do we need to be reminded that Chris Algieri had significant success landing when the two met last May? This is the same Algieri that was washed out by Errol Spence. But now Khan is a threat to Canelo? It doesn’t make sense. Canelo is still improving and will enter the ring with a significant size advantage when the two meet on May 7 and there’s nothing Virgil Hunter can do to keep Khan’s jaw from shattering once his Mexican opponent unloads one of his vicious power punches. This will be fun while it lasts and the only reason I see this going eight rounds is because Canelo hasn’t quite figured out how to cut off the ring effectively. Khan will do his best to put on a supreme exhibition of boxing skills but one punch will make those plans crumble. It’s almost inevitable.

Ricky Hatton, former two-weight world champion
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: It’s not impossible but it’s a tough ask for Amir. Not just because of the size differential but unlike Mayweather, who drops shoulders, forearms, etc., Amir is straight-backed and upright, therefore he has to use his speed of feet to keep out of trouble. Amir probably has the fastest feet in boxing but can he use them and keep out of danger for the whole 12 rounds? He has probably the fastest hands in boxing but can he hurt Canelo and hold him off with them for the whole 12 rounds? I love Amir for the fact he’s taken on this challenge. That’s a champion for you. If he wins I think it’ll be one of Britain’s greatest ever victories. But I think Canelo might just be too big. Canelo stoppage by midway. I hope I’m wrong, though.

IIevgen Khytrov, middleweight contender
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: Both excellent fighters, but in my opinion Canelo will win by knockout in the later rounds. But Khan is no slacker, has incredible speed, and will need to use his footwork and not get too close. He hasn’t fought in a while and that’s a big negative. If he boxes in a similar fashion like Lara, he has a great chance to win. If the fight goes to the scorecards, and Khan sticks to his game plan, Khan will have an advantage.

Erislandy Lara, WBA junior middleweight titleholder
Canelo Alvarez KO 4 Amir Khan: I feel that Khan won’t be able to beat Canelo with the same style Mayweather and I did, as I feel we both have superior boxing skills than him. Also, the few times he did land, we were able to absorb the punch. Canelo is very predictable and slow but I’m worried that Khan, being physically the smaller man, will not be able to absorb those shots at that weight. But we shall see ÔǪ Khan is a good fighter with an Olympic pedigree and is very motivated. I’m going with Canelo, KO 4.

Amir Khan (R) catches Luis Collazo with a right cross en route to outpointing the veteran on May 3, 2014, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Amir Khan (R) catches Luis Collazo en route to outpointing the veteran on May 3, 2014, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: I think it’s an interesting and marketable matchup – Amir with his speed and movement vs. Canelo with his weight and strength advantage. I think Canelo will prove to be too strong and get the KO when he is able to catch up with Amir.

Antonio Margarito, former welterweight titleholder
Canelo Alvarez to beat Amir Khan: I’m picking Canelo to win the fight. Khan will be facing many disadvantages. He’s giving up the weight. Khan is taller, but Canelo will be the bigger and stronger fighter. Khan’s chin is not great. Khan has been dropped, hurt, and knocked out. He’s facing a strong fighter with a big punch. Khan has been inactive. Inactivity is a boxers worst enemy. Unfortunately, Khan was too focused on landing fights with Mayweather and Pacquiao. He lost valuable time outside of the ring. Training and sparring is not the same as fighting in an arena with thousands of fans cheering for and against you.

Wayne McCullough, former WBC bantamweight titleholder
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: I think Canelo will be too big and too strong for Khan. Body shots should be the key, as Khan has fast hands, so Canelo needs to hit the body to slow him down. Khan is the heaviest he has been as a boxer so his speed may not be as it was at lighter weight classes. If Khan can move, hit, then move he might have a chance. I think Canelo will hurt Khan early and win by KO around the first half of the fight.

Jolene Mizzone, Main Events matchmaker
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: Canelo is too big for Khan. I think Canelo has a lot of skills that people don’t give him credit for. So based on size and skills I see Canelo stopping Khan in the later rounds.

Sergio Mora, former WBC junior middleweight titleholder
Canelo Alvarez KO 7 Amir Khan: Canelo is the bigger, natural fighter and huge favorite. This is the easy pick even for the casual fan. Canelo by KO 7.

Diego Morilla, XN
Canelo Alvarez W12 Amir Khan: By now, you’ve heard it all. Speed vs. power, pure skill vs. heart and desire, tough chin vs. no chin, Oscar vs. Pacman deja vu, and more. The unfortunate truth, however, is that, although it will not be the laughable mismatch that many people are predicting, the vaunted clash of styles that most people expect will never materialize. Sure, Khan will float like a butterfly and sting like a feisty little bee for as long as he can, but as soon as he feels Canelo’s bombs landing on his body and making their way to his head, Khan will put on a back-pedalling show that will make the Houdini-esque job he pulled toward the end of his fight against Maidana look like a toe-to-toe, phone-booth-warfare effort. A late stoppage or unanimous decision for the Cinnamon Kid is the most likely outcome in my card.

Martin Murray, former middleweight title challenger
Canelo Alvarez TKO 8-10 Amir Khan: I’d love Khan to win but see Canelo stopping him late on ÔǪ possibly Round 8 to 10. Hope I’m wrong, though, and Khan wins.

Gilberto Ramirez, WBO super middleweight titleholder
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: I believe Canelo will knock out Khan in any moment he connects. He’s the stronger, bigger puncher and Khan has no chin. Any moment Canelo hits Khan he’s going to the canvas.

Canelo Alvarez (R) feeds James Kirkland an uppercut on his way to a third-round knockout in May 2015. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Canelo Alvarez (R) feeds James Kirkland an uppercut on his way to a third-round knockout in May 2015. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

John J. Raspanti, Boxing Show
Canelo Alvarez TKO 7 Amir Khan: Amir Khan will have some advantages when he tangles with Canelo Alvarez May 7 in Las Vegas. Khan is fleet of foot and has fast hands. He’ll need to make Alvarez respect him and stay out of danger. Alvarez is graced with the great equalizer – power. The Mexican icon is the stronger man. His chin is sturdy. I can see Khan having some pockets of success – until a big Alvarez hook hurts him. Then it’s just a matter of time.

Matt Richardson,
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: Maybe Amir Khan will pull off a miracle. Maybe he can box, move and outwork Canelo Alvarez. Maybe his speed will be too much. Maybe, maybe, maybe ÔǪ but it’s not likely. Khan will try to box and he may even win a round or two but his chin was very shaky at 140 pounds. What’s going to happen at middleweight when he gets hit by a guy who, by fight time, will be a borderline light heavyweight? There was a reason Khan was picked for this fight: to provide a fun, knockout win for Canelo while giving Alvarez a chance to milk his title. All that will be achieved, probably halfway through the fight. Now, bring on GGG! Canelo in six.

Salvador Rodriguez, ESPN Deportes
Canelo Alvarez KO 7 Amir Khan: Canelo Álvarez by KO in 7!! Too much power, boxing skills and weight for Khan in the fight!

Cliff Rold,
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: This could be competitive in spots but Khan has been largely inactive and well protected since moving to welterweight. His best wins (Algieri and Alexander) have been against guys who can’t really punch. Alvarez isn’t a huge puncher but he’s heavy-handed enough and he’ll be much bigger in the ring.

Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine
Canelo Alvarez KO 5 Amir Khan: I like Khan’s ability, speed and experience in big fights but all that won’t be enough to offset Canelo’s combination of all-around ability and size/strength. Canelo will catch Khan eventually and that will likely be the beginning of the end.

Dominic Verdin,
Amir Khan SD 12 Canelo Alvarez: Khan by split decision. Speed upsets Canelo’s weight advantage.

Nicholas Walters, junior lightweight contender
Canelo Alvarez to beat Amir Khan: It’s an interesting fight. The power-punching goes to Canelo. We’ll find out Canelo isn’t so comfortable with boxers – he didn’t look so good with Cotto. Cotto is the older fighter and he was supposed to take Cotto out and the fight was so close. Amir Khan isn’t known to take a big punch; if Canelo catches him the fight can be over but Amir Khan is a very good boxer and Canelo isn’t very good with boxers. The fight I want to see is Canelo and GGG. I don’t think Golovkin has fought any real opponent as yet. I think he’s fighting guys he’s supposed to beat. If Amir Khan boxes and moves he can give Canelo problems, if Canelo catches him the fight is over. I’d pick Canelo. I don’t think Amir Khan is going to stand his punching power. He has to concentrate throughout the fight and box every round of the fight but Canelo knows if he catches him the fight can be over. I know Khan watched the Mayweather fight and if he boxes it’s a winnable fight.

Michael Woods,,, Everlast podcast “TALKBOX”
Canelo Alvarez KO 8 Amir Khan: Good big guy versus a good littler guy who is seeing if he can hang with bigger dogs. Got to go with the bigger lad here ÔǪ but Amir Khan is a skilled pugilist who has some skill-set edges over Canelo Alvarez. If the Khan chin holds and he can use the Virgil Hunter nullifying tactics for every minute of every round then we could see an upset special. Big “if.” Canelo will miss more than he has of late but what he lands should be showy. This one is a mystery fight – even Team Khan goes on without having a good idea of what happens May 7. Hand speed bothers Canelo but not enough to keep him from grinding down Khan, catching him, and stopping him around the eighth.

Hector Zapari, trainer
Canelo Alvarez KO Amir Khan: I believe it will be an entertaining fight. Canelo is one of the greatest fighters at the moment and it will be good to see how he handles fighters like Khan, with good footwork and speed, and if Khan can cause trouble with movement in the ring. Canelo is the bigger and more powerful fighter with good speed and great counterpunches but he will need to look to fight. Khan will be moving around. When he feels Canelo’s power Khan will move more. I don’t think Khan will stay inside because Canelo has power and can get the KO over Khan at any time he connects.

Final tally: A resounding 29-1 (and one undecided) in favor of Canelo Alvarez to win Saturday’s showdown with Amir Khan.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at


July 2016

You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: Canelo Alvarez readies himself for an intriguing clash with Britain’s Amir Khan on May 7.