Amir Khan
Khan will bid to become a world champion again in Las Vegas in May.Getty Images

Amir Khan has been confirmed as the surprise opponent for Saul "Canelo" Alvarez's first defence of his WBO middleweight title. The pair will do battle in Las Vegas on 7 May in Khan's first venture into the ring for over a year.

Alvarez overcame Miguel Cotto to win the vacant WBC crown last November and was set for an interim defence of his title before an eagerly anticipated meeting with unbeaten Kazakh fighter Gennady Golovkin. Khan meanwhile had eyed a rematch with WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia but will instead make the significant step up to middleweight, two divisions above the 147lbs class he currently fights in.

Confirmation of the bout comes after Khan sidestepped a meeting with fellow countryman Kell Brook at Wembley Stadium on 4 June, but nevertheless gives him an opportunity to recapture a world title. Alvarez, 25, has been beaten just once in 48 fights – by Floyd Mayweather – and fills the regular May HBO pay-per-view spot formally occupied by the unbeaten American.

The 29-year-old Khan said: "I know Canelo fights the best and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to face me like others have. My goal is to always fight the biggest names and the best fighters that is why I'm excited for this fight. Also, I would like to thank my team and Golden Boy Promotions for this opportunity. I know I have the speed and ability to beat him and will give my fans what they deserve.

Alvarez added: "As the middleweight champion of the world, I will take on the best fighters in the sport and on Cinco De Mayo weekend, I look forward to making the first defence of my titles. Amir was a decorated amateur, a two-time world champion and is in the prime of his career. Fans are in for a great fight."