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Virgil Hunter addresses Canelo-Khan weight issue

Fighters Network
Trainer Virgil Hunter (R) speaks to Amir Khan during the final press conference for Khan's fight against Canelo Alvarez. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

Trainer Virgil Hunter (R) speaks to Amir Khan during the final press conference for Khan’s fight against Canelo Alvarez. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

The conversation surrounding Canelo Alvarez has focused less on his opponent and more about his weight. Heading into this weekend’s fight with Amir Khan, Canelo is expected to hold a significant weight advantage with the fight being at a catchweight of 155 pounds. Khan will be jumping over a full weight class to face Canelo, but it is expected that the RING, WBC and lineal middleweight champion will outweigh his opponent by nearly 20 pounds when the two step into the ring on fight night.

The obvious question is, ‘Why is Canelo defending a 160-pound title at 155 pounds when it can be argued that he should fight at the weight limit?’ This question is also one reason why a unification fight with Gennady Golovkin has yet to materialize and why a majority of boxing writers are giving Khan little to no chance to defeat Canelo.

Khan’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, has faith in his student but seems to also be perplexed by the Mexican’s weight.

“Canelo is a middleweight and I don’t care what anybody says,” Hunter said during a trainer’s roundtable on Thursday. “It’s really sad. The man has the belt, doesn’t he? He’s the middleweight champion. When he steps in the ring he’s defending the middleweight championship isn’t he? Well, then he’s a f—ing middleweight.”

Hunter anticipates that Khan will weigh around 160 pounds on fight night and revealed that the British fighter had been struggling with making the 147-pound weight limit in his past couple of fights. However, for a fight of this magnitude, it was important for Hunter to not try anything different to compensate for the weight disadvantage.

“We’re not going to be able to compete with the weight no matter what we do,” Hunter said. “We can weight lift, stuff him with food and everything. We have to work to our strengths. That would be foolish to try to have him come up too much in weight.”

He’s aware of Canelo’s size and constantly reminded by fans and media that his fighter’s chin has been susceptible. But he’s not all that impressed with Canelo’s punching power and certainly feels that Khan could fare well on Saturday night.

“The record speaks for itself. Canelo has only knocked out one 154-pounder,” Hunter said in reference to Canelo stopping Alfredo Angulo in 2014, who happened to be a student of Hunter’s. But the esteemed trainer said that Angulo was virtually a dead opponent on fight night and fainted prior to the fight. And all that did was aid Canelo in the stoppage. “Canelo was nowhere near stopping Miguel Cotto, Erislandy Lara or Austin Trout. Angulo was dead. Maybe it was their skills, maybe it wasn’t.”

Hunter also commented on the heart of his fighter, which has been known to get him into trouble. He has advised heavily against standing and trading with Canelo but does expect Khan’s veteran instincts to kick in at some point and correct any mistakes he may have early on.

Some have pointed at Khan’s struggles against Chris Algieri as a key reason why the 29-year-old doesn’t have a chance to beat Canelo. However, Hunter sees it another way.

“That was one of his best fights to me because he did not do what he was supposed to do the week of the fight and I warned him,” Hunter explained. “He didn’t think it was going to be difficult. It’s obvious he didn’t listen. He caught a bad cold that Wednesday. I told him Algieri had his mind made up and he was going to win and you’re going to have a tough fight until you convince him that he can’t win. It was the last four rounds when he realized he was in a tough fight that he showed me his competitiveness.”

Although he’s not expected to win and many believe he doesn’t have the power to hurt Canelo, Hunter explained that with Khan’s speed and ability to catch Canelo with a punch he doesn’t see power being the difference-maker on Saturday night.

“I would be surprised if Amir went for a knockout and ended up getting one,” Hunter said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if the elements presented themselves and Canelo was caught in the right spot with a punch he didn’t see coming.”

Either way, Hunter doesn’t see this as a make or break fight for his pupil. And that makes Khan a bit more dangerous to an opponent. And whatever Khan has to do to win, Hunter believes that he will do it.

“This won’t affect his career because he’s not supposed to win,” Hunter said. “When the fight starts, he has a plan. If he deviates from those plans, he has to deal with the consequences. However, if he’s successful with what he feels then I’ll be on the same page as him. Whatever is working, let it work.”


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.