Mike Tyson once described the lure of greatness as the strongest drug in the world. It’s an intoxicant which has Amir Khan firmly in its grip.
Muhammad Ali suggested that a person with no imagination has no wings. Khan’s yearning for superstardom has never been a secret, while it also seems he has an appetite for fantasy.
Today, he is in the gym visualising what it would be like to pull off a sensational career-defining upset after becoming a protagonist in some of the most creative matchmaking of recent times.
Nobody saw it coming and few give him a prayer when he challenges Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for the middleweight championship (at a 155lb catchweight) on May 7.
Khan has spent the past three years lobbying for a ‘superfight’ with first Floyd Mayweather and latterly Manny Pacquiao.
With those two modern greats all but gone, Canelo is the main man, and should Khan do the unthinkable and box his way to victory then he would join him at the very top.
After all, only a very select few have stepped up from welterweight to dethrone a middleweight champion.
You have to admire his courage, although sometimes there can be a fine line between bravery and hubris. Spurning a lucrative domestic brawl with Kell Brook and a WBC welterweight title shot against Danny Garcia to quite literally dream big is an exceptionally bold move. ‘Khanelo’ is a physical mismatch, pitting the British-Pakistani and his questionable chin against a stone-fisted power puncher who on the night could weigh in the region of 20-30 pounds heavier than him.
Khan might be tall and rangey but he is lean. Canelo is a tank.
It’s the epitome of a high risk, high reward scenario.
To borrow another famous quotation: “If you screw things up in tennis, it’s 15-love. If you screw up in boxing, it’s your a**.” Randall Cobb’s salty synopsis seems particularly apt for Khan when considering what is at stake for him.
‘Khanelo’ is a physical mismatch… Khan may be tall and rangey but he is lean. Canelo is a tank
The notion that nobody expects him to win therefore he has nothing to lose is simplistic and crude.
Heavy knockouts and heavy defeats can ruin fighters and shave years off a career and Canelo is one of the most ruthless finishers in the sport today.
Khan has one obvious advantage: speed. He will hope his adroit footwork and slick hands – plus a genius defensive strategy from trainer Virgil Hunter – will trump Canelo’s sheer physical mass and power.
But for all his innate talent, to bewilder the bigger man for a full 36 minutes is a monumental ask.
Smaller foes than Alvarez have caught up with Khan and punished him severely.
Canelo will have little respect for his power so mobility is absolutely fundamental to his chances.
Amir Khan will return to action against Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas on May 7.
Khan, who has not fought since a points victory over Chris Algieri last May, said last month he had a “few options” for his next fight, but no one expected him to arrange a catchweight contest at 155lbs with WBC middleweight champion Alvarez.
Andre Berto, Brandon Rios and Jo Jo Dan had all been tipped as possible warm-up opponents for Khan ahead of a summer showdown with Danny Garcia or Kell Brook, the respective WBC and IBF welterweight champions.
Khan is Garcia’s mandatory challenger and the WBC had ordered the American – who had a fourth-round knockout victory over the Bolton fighter in July 2012 – to face him by June or lose his belt.
But Khan’s camp were also said to be interested in a lucrative Battle of Britain showdown with Brook and negotiations with Eddie Hearn’s promotions company Matchroom Boxing had reportedly taken place.
However, Khan has stunned the boxing world by agreeing to fight ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the 25-year-old WBC middleweight champion whose only loss in 48 fights was a majority points defeat to the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The Mexican’s last fight saw him enjoy a unanimous points victory over Miguel Cotto in November and many regard him as the next superstar of boxing when Mayweather decides to hang up his gloves.
Alvarez carries a big punching reputation and has won 46 of his 48 fights – he had a draw against Jorge Juarez in only his fifth contest – by way of 32 knockouts.
Oscar De La Hoya, of Golden Boy Promotions, posted on his official Twitter account: “Proud to announce on May 7th, 2016 @canelo will return to the ring to face @amirkingkhan.”
The 32-year-old Russian dominated every round, masterfully cutting off the ring and landing left jabs at will before Pascal’s trainer Freddie Roach put a stop to the slaughter before the start of round eight — giving Kovalev a seventh-round technical knockout.
This was the Canadian’s first fight with six-time trainer of the year Roach, but the outcome was virtually the same as his March fight against Kovalev, which ended with an eight-round TKO for the Russian.
Kovalev retained his World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization titles as he improved to 29-0-1 with 26 knockouts.
The two became bitter rivals in the build up to the rematch with Pascal, who is black, accusing the Russian of being racist and Kovalev questioning Pascal’s character.
Kovalev told the crowd of 9,866 at the Bell Centre arena, immediately following the fight, that he purposely extended it to make Pascal suffer more.
“He doesn’t respect anybody,” Kovalev said. “I don’t respect him and I never will.”
Pascal, who struggled to win a 10-round decision over Yunieski Gonzalez in his last fight, came in as the heavy underdog. He dropped to 30-4-1 with 17 knockouts.
Kovalev notched his eighth title defense since winning his first belt with a fourth-round knockout of Nathan Cleverly in 2013.
After destroying Pascal, Kovalev now plans to fight either former super middleweight champ Andre Ward or WBC light heavy champ Adonis Stevenson.
Stevenson, who watch the fight from ringside, climbed through the ropes and was jawing at Kovalev but keeping his distance. Kovalev then gave Stevenson the middle finger before being pushed away by several of his handlers.