Saturday’s fight between Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan will be one of the highest-selling pay-per-views of 2016, but that doesn’t mean it will be one of the most competitive. Alvarez has won four straight fights since losing to Floyd Mayweather nearly three years ago, and his winning streak should continue on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Most of the boxing world agrees that Alvarez has the significant advantage. Almost every expert is picking Alvarez to win, and many believe the fight will end before 12 rounds. Bovada.lv lists Alvarez as a -550 favorite, and Khan has +375 betting odds.
Khan had success as a welterweight, winning all three of his fights after moving up from the 140-pound weight class. But he’ll have trouble with Alvarez at 155 pounds, where the WBC middleweight champ has been dominant. Khan is about the same height as Alvarez, but his naturally smaller frame will be a problem when trying to handle Alvarez’s power.
Alvarez could weigh more than 170 pounds when he enters the ring on Saturday night. Khan was able to withstand unexpected punishment from Chris Algieri when he last fought, but those same shots from Alvarez could put him on the canvas. Khan’s chin has hurt him in the past, suffering two knockout losses. Alvarez has used his left hook and uppercuts to end many fights, and Khan could be done early if the champ is able to land those punches cleanly.
Moving up to 155 pounds and having no knockouts since he left the light welterweight division, Khan doesn’t have what it takes to stop Alvarez. Khan and trainer Virgil Hunter will likely employ a defensive strategy, trying to utilize the boxer’s quickness to outpoint Alvarez over 12 rounds.
“He’s (Khan) got a chance because he’s very fast on his feet and very fast on his hands,” former champion Ricky Hatton told On the Ropes Boxing Radio. “If there’s one thing that Canelo hasn’t got — even though he’s improved since the Mayweather fight massively — is the quickness of feet. He hits hard with both hands, he’s a good boxer, but his feet aren’t the quickest and that could be key.
“Whether Amir keeps the speed of feet after going up through the weights remains to be seen, maybe he’s very fast at welterweight but do his feet move as fast when he moves up to middleweight? It will be interesting to see. It’s not an impossible job for Amir but he is up against it, and I think even Amir would say that.”
Alvarez can’t take Khan for granted, and Khan's speed means it won’t be an easy night for the Mexican fighter. But Alvarez’s defensive skills are often overlooked, and he can out-box Khan if that’s what he has to do.
"I always prepare 100 percent for every fight,” Alvarez told reporters last week. “They only thing that changes is the strategy. Every fighter is different, every fighter brings different skills and you have to adjust for that. For Amir, we have focused on increasing my hand speed, counter punching and preparing for lots of movement and footwork.
"We believe [Amir] will adopt a similar style to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Erislandy Lara; however, we have made sure that I am prepared for that style of boxing and anything he brings to the table to not be surprised on fight night.”
Alvarez proved to be a complete fighter with a strong 2015. He used his power in a brawl against James Kirkland, winning by knockout in an exciting three-round affair. Six months later, he went 12 rounds against Miguel Cotto, staying clear of his opponent’s vaunted left hook and forcing him to whiff on 79 percent of his attempts in a unanimous decision victory.
Alvarez has the patience and the skill to control the fight before he’s finally able to find his opportunity to end things before the judges can get involved.
Prediction: Alvarez by late-round TKO