In Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night, May 7, 2016, Amir Khan and Canelo Alvarez, boxing mega-stars faced off for one the year’s biggest fight thus far. Anytime either steps in the ring, those watching are in for a treat. Alvarez, who is mentored and promoted by the all-time great Oscar De La Hoya, has been working his way to becoming the new face of boxing ever since his fight with arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Floyd Mayweather Jr. A feat that became easier for the Mexican-born star now that Mayweather has retired.
Khan won the two rounds “without a doubt,” in the words of Roy Jones Jr. The first round win was sealed by a straight right-hand landing clean by Khan, which brought Alvarez’s little niece, sitting ringside, to tears. From the start, Khan’s hand and foot speed advantage over Alvarez were put on display. The fighter’s foot speed and quick jab kept Alvarez from cutting off the ring, a tactic he has leaned on for his knockout (KO) victories in the past.
For a lengthy fighter to be successful a great jab is mandatory and pound-for-pound there are few in the sport today that have a better jab than Khan. The jab is what keeps a powerful inside fighter like Alvarez at bay, it is what keeps them from cutting off the ring, and a strong jab also opens up the opponent to their power punches.
Alvarez showcased his power in the third round and by the fourth and fifth round the fight had a completely different energy, said ringside announcer Max Kellerman. Alvarez’s body shots were adding up and began to slow Khan as the fight progressed. Eventually, the crowd and announcers were on their feet waiting for the KO.
Those on their feet did not have to wait long. Alvarez fainted a jab, dropping the hands of Khan, leaving the fighter wide open for a clean right hook to the jaw by Alvarez that ended the fight and knocked Khan out cold. It was a few minutes before Khan got up and was coherent.
After the KO, Alvarez did not jump up on the ropes to celebrate as most fighters do and would have. Instead, he ran to the side of Khan, dropped to his knees, and made sure his opponent was alright. It is moments like these with both cold-blooded knockouts and the fighter’s character that makes him so beloved by his native country of Mexico, Mexican-Americans, and the entire sports world at large. When watching Alvarez, one sees a finely tuned example of how role models in sports living in the spotlight should behave.
Khan did fight well up until the KO, a unanimous feeling shared by all who sat and spoke ringside. Khan left his natural fighting weight at 147 pounds and went up in weight to 155 pounds to comply with terms handed out by Golden Boy Promotions owner, Oscar De La Hoya. It was the heaviest fight of his career, and there are few in history that have gone up in weight and succeeded against naturally bigger fighters.
However, in order to be considered among the best, it is merely a requirement, something Khan humbly admitted in the post-fight interview. As said, there are few in the history of the sport who have succeeded in doing so, among those that have are Manny Pacquiao, Roy Jones Jr., Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and Mayweather.
Khan’s reputation around the boxing squared circle is that the fighter has a glass jaw. However, he does not back down or shy away from anyone in the sport. Khan is always looking for, calling out, and taking on the best the sport has to offer. A rarity among the boxing elites in this day in age.
He is one of the only contemporary fighters that fearlessly gets in the ring with the highest ranking and biggest names the sport has to offer. So the reputation of a glass chin that follows him may be a bit unfair, despite the irony of tonight.
Boxing may be the only sport where the best in the world shy away from each other due to disputes between promoters, conflict of contracts, conflicts between opposing trainers, and hundreds of other reasons. The most infamous of these would be the HBO-Showtime Cold War that will not allow fighters whose promoters are associated with HBO to fight a fighter whose promoter associates with Showtime; and vice versa.
Khan called out Mayweather for two years and was set to fight him before Mayweather backed out last minute. Khan’s record may not be as eye-popping as the top pound-for-pound fighters, but he has an old school fighter mentality in the way he only takes on the best. The best include those he has lost to such as Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, and now Alvarez. Then there are the mega-stars he has fought and defeated like Paulie Malignaggi, and Marcos Maidana, who was the Argentinian that gave Mayweather a run for his money, twice. Furthermore, he won matches against Devon Alexander, Chris Algieri, Victor Ortiz, and the list goes on.
After the fight, Alvarez was psyched-up, not only because of the win but more because of the attendance of the brutal boxing prodigy, Gennady Golovkin, referred by most as Triple G. He, like many in the sport, has the reputation of dodging fights with big names. However, there are many who also shy away from a fight with Triple G, who has the highest knockout percentage ever in the history of boxing.
When asked about the possibility of a Golovkin fight Alvarez gave a passionate rant that finished with him saying, “We don’t come to play. We (referring to Mexican fighters) don’t (mess) around. We don’t fear anyone in this sport.”
During the post-interview with Khan, it was clear that he strongly agreed with Alvarez, as did his passionate promoter, Virgel Hunter who interrupted the interview, grabbed the mike Kanye West-style, and called out Triple G directly, saying that “fighters need to fight each other.” Then Hunter gestured over to Golovkin in the crown and said, “They (Golovkin) needs to stop hiding.”
The announcer, Kellerman fed off what the two fighters and their promoters said with his final words that epitomize the sport perfectly: “Do you want to be a businessman or do you want to be a fighter?”
By T. Aaron DeGeorge
ESPN: Canelo Alvarez knocks Amir Khan unconscious with right hand in sixth round
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