Of all the mega fight of recent years, Khan vs Canelo is the most left field. It was widely expected that the Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was due to take on Gennady Golovkin in a fight for (more or less) the unified middleweight title. Khan, after missing out on the big names of Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao, was expected to finally agree to a domestic dust up with Kell Brook at welterweight. Instead, with little notice, the imminent fight was announced raking even the most knowledgeable insider by surprise.
Many immediately congratulated Khan for his bravery, jumping up two weight divisions. Many also questioned his sanity. Yet in many ways the fight is a smart move from Khan. He has repeatedly said he only wants the very biggest fights from now on. The biggest name in boxing after Mayweather and Pacquiao is now Canelo. Alvarez is a fine boxer but isn’t perfect, and has had issues with slippery boxers who refuse to stand and trade with him. Khan’s fast hands, explosive foot movement and unpredictable angles could provide that. The big worry is Khan’s chin, which badly exposed at lighter weights, handles the jump up. Alvarez’s knockout of James Kirkland last year was arguably the best of last year. Kirkland also has a subject chin but he’s a natural middleweight and an inside fighter who was left pole axed.
I personally think Khan can win. Even if he loses somewhat respectively, his stock should rise. In the past, Khan had the admirable yet suicidal tendency to fight fire with fire when hurt. Virgil Hunter has largely removed that from his game and had him fighting more tactical, defensive fights. I expect the plan for Khan to be to dart in, unleash flurries and dart out. He’ll have to box off the back foot and employ plenty of lateral movement.
The issue might be if Khan were to win. He’d either have to fight destroyer Golovkin or vacate, I suspect he’d do the latter – but then his only option would be cut back in weight to welterweight or light middle. History has shown the difficulties of dropping down in weight considerably. Just look at what it did to the great Roy Jones.
Should a fight with Brook happen, it could be Brook, still to have a real war in his career save for his title winning victory over Shawn Porter, against a shop-worn and cashing out Khan. From a boxing fans perspective, that would be a tragedy. It’d also deprive the sport of Alvarez vs Golovkin.
All told, the fight is as intriguing as much for what could happen outside the ring as in it. My heart wants Khan to triumph, an exciting boxing who’s been unlucky to not get the big fights the public wanted him to get. My head says the bigger, stronger Canelo, by mid round KO.