Things we learned: Canelo Alvarez v Amir Khan

Andy Lewis 07:51 09/05/2016
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Brutal: Saul Alvarez.

After the dust has settled following Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s knockout blow to Amir Khan in Las Vegas on Saturday evening, what did the big fight tell us about the two boxers?

Sport360’s Andy Lewis takes a look at three major takeaways from the event:

Canelo/Golovkin will happen but don’t hold your breath

It’s clear the public demand for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to face Gennady Golovkin is reaching a level the Mexican and his promoters Golden Boy can no longer ignore. Nor would they want to given the monumental cash cow this much-anticipated showdown has become.

Canelo couldn’t have been more forthright in his intentions after crushing Amir Khan, inviting the watching Golovkin into the ring and calling for the fight to be made.

Great news, absolutely, but didn’t he say the same thing after beating Miguel Cotto? After that bout he agreed with the WBC, who sanction his middleweight title, that he could have one more fight before facing Golovkin.

Leverage from the WBC doesn’t mean much, Canelo is above belts, and he’d happily vacate rather than make a decision he judges bad for his career. There is no reason to wait, however, as you get the impression the financial incentive is already there.

The only counter is that the optimum time to market a superfight involving a Mexican is Cinco De Mayo weekend so, equally, don’t be surprised if we have to wait another 12 months.

The major obstacle, however, is Canelo’s insistence on fighting at his comfort blanket weight of 155lbs. Make no mistake, he is a middleweight, holds a 160lb title and as Golovkin contends, he should be fighting at that weight.

This conflict is a ready-made excuse for the negotiations to fail. Golovkin shouldn’t have to make this concession but may well have to do so to get the fight he wants.

It’s a Floyd Mayweather like tactic from Canelo who is obviously keen to extract any advantage he can.

There’s no such thing as a no-lose fight for Khan

Amir Khan deserves immense credit for his bravery. That is not in doubt, and if more boxers shared his willingness to take risks then boxing would be far more popular than it is.

Yet unfortunately for Khan, he has become as famous for being savagely knocked out than for his obvious skill. And that’s why his crushing defeat to Alvarez was anything but the no-lose situation some portrayed.

Given his courage it is hard to be critical, but if you put the idealism to one side, what did he gain from Saturday night apart from a huge purse and a trip to the hospital? History may remember Khan’s bravery in accepting the most dangerous assignment available, but it will also remember him unconscious on the canvas – and not for the first time in his career.

There’s no shame in losing the way he did. No shame at all, it was entirely logical, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t damaging – potentially to both his physical and mental wellbeing and certainly to his career and his legacy.

The days when he was the darling of the British public as an impossibly-talented teenaged Olympian, or a two-time world title winner as a light-welterweight seem a long time ago.

Devastating knockout losses tend to stick in the memory and you simply cannot think of Khan without thinking of Breidis Prescott, Danny Garcia and now Canelo.

Since being upset by Garcia in 2012, Khan has worked commendably to re-establish himself, ironing out the flaws inherent in his hybrid amateur/pro style while climbing the welterweight rankings in the process.

But by effectively jumping two divisions to snatch at a carrot dangled in front of him by Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy, he has taken a big risk.

We heard that Khan was ‘daring to be great’ – judging by his payday he was certainly daring to be rich. The safety net all along has been that a showdown with IBF welterweight champion and domestic rival Kell Brook would always be there, but even the appeal of that is diminished by this loss of momentum.

The long-running stand-off between the two was all well and good while they were both winning. There’s also Khan’s dwindling appeal in the UK – he’s not fought at home since 2013 – and the fact negotiations will no doubt be problematic given his weaker bargaining position.

Previous talks were torpedoed by his ‘A-side’ demands. He’d need at least one solid win – preferably in the UK – to convince the British public to shell out en masse for a pay-per-view.

Khan may have earned life-changing money on Saturday, but it is churlish to suggest his brand hasn’t been damaged by another brutal KO on his resume. Time to rebuild. Again.

Respect the weight classes

If the sickening knockout at the end of this fight proved anything then it is that weight classes exist for a very good reason, but right now they seem to matter less than ever.

Alvarez is the middleweight (160lb) champion but has never fought as a middleweight. Instead he campaigns at a catchweight of 155lbs, or ‘Canelo-weight’ as some now call it. It’s a system he works well to his advantage and his leverage as a box office draw ensures it goes unchallenged.

The sight of a gaunt Alvarez, boiled down for Friday’s weigh-in, was a far cry from the 175lb beast who iced Khan in such chilling fashion some 36 hours later. The Briton was still probably somewhere near the weight at which he had hit the scales.

Khan’s height might have made it less conspicuous but this was a gross physical mismatch and he could have been seriously hurt. It’s futile to expect any sort of governance to prevent situations like this in a business scarcely disguised as a sport, but it leaves a bad taste.

Should we expect to see lightweight champion Anthony Crolla now fight Brook? Or, indeed, Canelo face light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev? Of course not.

Cash may rule, but somewhere along the line people need to look after the health of boxers. What they do is dangerous enough as it is.

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