Saul "Canelo" Alvarez successfully retained his WBC, The Ring and Lineal middleweight titles with a brutal sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday evening (7 May). The popular Mexican, widely considered as one of boxing's new global superstars, was providing the first defence of the belts he won from Miguel Cotto in November 2015.
Khan, who jumped up two divisions to fight at a catchweight of 155 lbs for the very first time, began the night well and utilised his trademark speed. Executing trainer Virgil Hunter's gameplan to perfection, he claimed the opening rounds by getting in and out quickly and peppering his opponent with quick flurries without allowing a suspect chin to be tested.
Canelo struggled to control the ring early on, but gradually grew into the fight and began to land some big body shots while slowly working the jab. A left hook opened up a cut under Khan's right eye, but the former unified light-welterweight champion still looked to be ahead on the cards before being knocked out cold by a devastating overhand right to the jaw in round six that left him dazed on the canvas and with no chance of continuing. The defeat was the Bolton fighter's fourth of his career and a first since suffering consecutive losses to Lamont Peterson and reigning welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
Canelo, meanwhile, improved to 47-1-1, with the only blot on his copybook coming with a comfortable points defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013. After the bout, he invited fellow middleweight title-holder and mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin to the ring and confirmed that he would finally face the formidable Kazakh knockout specialist in what would be one of the most eagerly-anticipated unification battles in recent memory. An agreement will have to be reached over weight, though, with "Triple G" having repeatedly stated that he would not be willing to drop below the 160 middleweight limit.
As for Khan, who received widespread praise for his bravery in accepting a fight against a naturally stronger and bigger man, a return to 147 looks almost certain. IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook quickly took to social media to remind his domestic rival that he is still available for a lucrative all-British showdown, although the 29-year-old remains the number one contender for Garcia's WBC strap.
After coming round from that devastating KO, Khan, later taken to hospital as a precaution, said: "This is boxing. I wanted to go out there as a champion. I unfortunately didn't make it to the end but I tried my best. This challenge came and it was hard to turn down. I want to be the best."