Saul "Canelo" Alvarez makes the first defence of his WBC, The Ring and Lineal middleweight titles against British challenger Amir Khan at the newly-built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday 7 May.
How to watch
Fight fans in the United Kingdom can watch exclusive live coverage of Canelo vs Khan on pay television channel BoxNation, with the programme set to begin at 01.30 BST in the early hours of Sunday morning and ring walks expected to take place approximately three-and-a-half hours later. Non-subscribers can pay a fee of £12 to watch and receive a one-month subscription. In the United States, the bout is being broadcast as a HBO pay-per-view starting at 21.00 ET/18.00 PT.
After what has felt like years of chasing high-profile fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao without success, Khan has finally secured the biggest test of his career to date against boxing's next global superstar. Expected to eventually agree a lucrative domestic bout with IBF welterweight title-holder Kell Brook, the 29-year-old instead surprisingly announced in February that he would be stepping up two divisions to middleweight for the very first time.
Initially seen as a needlessly brave and even foolish decision, Khan has since been rightfully praised for his willingness to stand toe-to-toe with a fighter of Canelo's undisputed calibre despite his clear inferiority in terms of natural size and power. Although for a 160 lb title, the fight was agreed at a catchweight of 155. This is a common theme for the Mexican, much to the annoyance of rival and prospective future opponent Gennady Golovkin, with no rehydration clause meaning that he should enter the ring at around 175 lbs. Many believe that such a disadvantage is likely to prove an insurmountable barrier for Khan, who has never been heavier than 160 going into a contest but claims to walk around at roughly that weight normally.
An enormous star in his home country, Canelo - which translates into Spanish as "cinnamon" in reference to his distinctive red hair - beat Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto via unanimous decision last November to begin his second reign as a world champion. His first, at light-middleweight, began with victory over Matthew Hatton in 2011 and he successfully defended that belt on five occasions against the likes of "Sugar" Shane Mosley before unifying the WBC and WBA titles against Austin Trout. That undefeated streak came to an end in his very next outing, when he was comprehensively outpointed by Mayweather in a lucrative battle that generated over $150m - a record that stood until Money's "Fight of the Century" dud against Pacquiao.
Khan's road to prominence has been far from straightforward. After tasting Olympic success, his ascent up the professional rankings was spectacularly halted in 2008 and questions regarding his suspect chin came to the fore when he was stunned inside a minute by little-known Breidis Prescott. He later recovered by beating a bloodied Marco Antonio Barrera and claiming the WBA light-welterweight crown with victory over Andreas Kotelnik, before successfully seeing off Dmitry Salita, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Paul McCloskey.
He added the IBF strap with a fifth-round stoppage of Zab Judah, but saw his progress halted with a controversial split decision defeat at the hands of Lamont Peterson. Khan was eventually reinstated as WBA champion due to the American's failed drugs test, but seven months later he suffered a second consecutive loss to Danny Garcia. That latter blow prompted the termination of his four-year partnership with trainer Freddie Roach and since joining forces with Virgil Hunter, he has recorded five straight wins over Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri.
What they've said
Canelo Alvarez: "There's a lot more to me than just power. When you see me in the ring on Saturday night, you'll find out. I already have a lot of experience but the best is yet to come. I'm 25 years old, I've had a good career and the best is yet to come. I want to fight for the next 10 years which will be better than my first 10 years. I feel comfortable at 154lbs. I know I'm fighting for the 160lbs title but that one extra pound is lighter on my body and I feel better. While I am at this weight I will not fight someone who weighs 160lbs - that would be an advantage to the opponent - why would I give them that advantage?"
Amir Khan: "I know I'm here as the underdog, but I'm ready to win and take this WBC belt back to my home in England. I wouldn't have taken this fight if I didn't think I could take it. I have trained for everything and worked on my speed and my power. A win against Canelo would be one of the biggest wins of my career because he is a superstar, especially on this Cinco de Mayo weekend in front of everyone. I have trained and worked on my speed and my power. The fans will be very happy on Saturday night. I will be the new world champion. I think it will be difficult to knock Canelo out, but I know I can give him a boxing lesson."
Canelo: 48 fights, 46 wins (32 via knockout)
- (W) Miguel Cotto - unanimous decision - November 2015
- (W) James Kirkland - knockout - May 2015
- (W) Erislandy Lara - split decision - July 2014
Khan: 34 fights, 31 wins (19 via knockout)
- (W) Chris Algieri - unanimous decision - May 2015
- (W) Devon Alexander - unanimous decision - December 2014
- (W) Luis Collazo - unanimous decision - May 2014
"Styles make fights" is one of those tired and overused modern sporting cliches, but there is certainly a clear contrast here between sheer power and speed. Much will depend on Khan's boxing intelligence and ability to avoid any big shots as well as how well he can withstand the hard punches that do land. Taunts regarding a perceived glass chin have dogged the Bolton native throughout his career, although he showed against Maidana in 2010 that he can withstand brute force on occasion.
It will need to be a flawless performance from Khan if he is to emerge victorious and a failure to beat him would be a huge disappointment for Canelo. A rather tepid decision win would not come as a surprise given the hype that has surrounded this fight, but the champion really should not be letting himself get taken the distance.
Canelo via a late stoppage in the ninth or 10th round.
Odds (via Betfair)
- Canelo Alvarez -2/9
- Amir Khan - 3/1
- Draw - 20/1
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