Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan: Fight preview, inside look, expert pick –

6 months ago Comments Off on Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan: Fight preview, inside look, expert pick –

Canelo Alvarez will make his first defense of the WBC middleweight title on Saturday night against Amir Khan in Las Vegas on HBO pay-per-view.

Alvarez won the lineal middleweight title off of Miguel Cotto last November and has selected former super lightweight world champion Amir Khan as his opponent. The fight will take place at a 155-pound catchweight and will be Khan’s first bout above welterweight (148 pounds).

The bout is being billed as the latest in a long line of classic power vs. speed matchups, with the bigger Alvarez as the heavy favorite (-500) to defend his title. Here is how both fighters will try to take advantage of their side of the speed vs. power matchup to leave Las Vegas with the middleweight title.

How Canelo wins: Alvarez may not be a big middleweight, but he’s certainly going to be the bigger, stronger fighter in this bout. The strategy for Alvarez shouldn’t be all that different from when he faced Cotto in November.

Khan does not possess a tremendous amount of power that can match Alvarez punch-for-punch, so Canelo will be best served working inside-out on Khan. With Khan’s speed and length — he has a half-inch reach advantage on Canelo — Alvarez will want to walk him down and smother his speed by getting him on the ropes where Alvarez can unload big shots.

All the talk about power vs. speed does a bit to discredit both men as Khan does possess some power, particularly when working the body, and Alvarez moves well in the ring. However, both will be looking to dictate the pace of the fight with their style. For Canelo, that means getting inside where Khan can’t jab a lot, throwing the occasional combination and then dancing away before Canelo can counter.

Alvarez will take some shots in executing this strategy, like he did against Cotto, but if he feels like Khan’s punches don’t have the power to really do damage he can accept those shots in order to get in his range and into the ring position he wants. If he can push Khan back to the ropes and cut off the ring, then he can start looking for openings to step back and unload his lethal right hand, like he did against James Kirkland last year.

How Khan wins: Khan needs to keep this fight in the middle of the ring and give himself space to take advantage of his foot and hand speed. He knows that standing toe-to-toe with Canelo and trading punches is not how he wins this fight and the ropes will not be his friend in this one.

He needs to take a page from Floyd Mayweather’s book and dart around the ring, accumulating a lead in punches landed with his jab and being smart about when he looks to move in and land power shots. He also has to know when to jab and bounce back to stay out of Alvarez’s range. If he does that, he’ll win a lot of rounds by dictating the pace and out-landing Canelo, even if his punches aren’t doing significant damage.

Khan said he wants to change angles on Canelo and look for opportunities to hit him with power shots that Alvarez isn’t expecting, knowing that the punch you don’t see is usually the one that does the most damage — and can even result in a knockout.

Those opportunities might not come in the first few rounds, but if he can avoid Canelo with good, slick defense and consistent pressure with the jab, he might be able to frustrate Alvarez into pressing and getting reckless in moving forward and catch him with a big power shot.

Prediction: Canelo by 10th round TKO.

I want to believe in Khan, I really do. He’s a terrific fighter, but I’m not convinced that he’s going to be able to handle Alvarez’s power for the full fight at 155 pounds.

It won’t surprise me if Khan gets up on the cards in the first three or four rounds as Canelo figures out how to get him to the ropes, but as the fight wears on, I expect Alvarez to become more confident in his ability to walk through Khan’s shots. Once that happens, he will start controlling the action and landing big shots.

Against Danny Garcia — the last time Khan was knocked out — he wasn’t able to hit Garcia with big enough power shots to keep Garcia from coming forward. Khan’s defense has improved and he knows the dangers of trying to trade with Canelo like he did with Garcia, but as the fight wears on, I think Canelo, who is used to carrying 155 pounds, will wear down Khan and eventually land the big right hand that puts Khan on the canvas.

Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan are ready to rumble. (USATSI)

Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan: Fight preview, inside look, expert pick –