As Matt O’Brien stated on this website, Canelo vs Khan was no “superfight.” And as Rafael Garcia asserted, there was virtually no demand for this match and almost no one in boxing saw Amir Khan as a legitimate threat to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. But hype has a life of its own and while the pay-per-view numbers for tonight’s event at the new T-Mobile Arena in Vegas are anyone’s guess, this will go down as one of the more high-profile matches of the year. Which is kind of sad, since overall the card was lame and did little good for the sport.
The lone bright spot tonight was the performance of welterweight Frankie Gomez who cruised to a one-sided victory over solid contender Mauricio Herrera. Few foresaw Gomez dominating as he did and the performance instantly makes Gomez a serious threat in a talent-laden welterweight division.
Otherwise, David Lemieux, as expected, overpowered Glen Tapia, a fighter who almost everyone hopes will retire for his own good. And then Canelo Alvarez, a boxer who would be a super-middleweight, if not a light heavyweight, if weigh-ins still took place on the day of the match (as was the custom for only about a hundred years), knocked out a boxer who had never before competed above 147 pounds. As Lee Wylie pointed out the other day, weight classes exist for a reason.
Or to put it another way, it doesn’t make much sense to give Canelo a whole lot of credit for defeating a significantly smaller man who had previously been knocked out by Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia. Instead of lauding Alvarez for notching another knockout and another huge payday, it’s time the entire sport imposed some serious pressure to get him in the ring with Gennady Golovkin. Afterwards, Max Kellerman pressed Alvarez on the question of facing the dangerous Kazakh and the champion responded with a hearty, “Dejemonos de mamadas,” which roughly translates as “let’s stop fucking around,” as if Golovkin is the one side-stepping the fight and not the red-headed Mexican.
The obvious problem with this display of Latin bravado is Canelo’s catch-weight demand, not to mention the fact that it was Alvarez and his team who asked the WBC to postpone a Golovkin match so he could take on Khan. Few appear confident that Canelo vs Golovkin will happen anytime soon and many expect Alvarez vs Lemieux to happen instead. After all, both Lemieux and Canelo are with Golden Boy and from a business perspective that match makes more sense than Alvarez signing contracts to risk his earning power against a fighter most view as the favorite to defeat him.
Credit to Amir Khan. He took on a huge challenge and boxed well for the first four rounds. But starting in round five the man from Bolton began taking some less-than-prudent risks, staying within punching range when he didn’t need to as his vaunted speed slowed just enough for Alvarez to start landing more consistently. Canelo, while being peppered by Khan up to that point, had connected with some heavy artillery to the body and it was clear he held a massive edge in sheer firepower.
Thus the right hand which ended matters in round six came as no great surprise. It landed flush on Khan’s chin and sent him spiralling to the canvas, his head slamming on the ring floor. He lay on his back, eyes open and glazed over, his chest heaving, as referee Kenny Bayless signalled that Amir was done for the night. As he did so, Canelo strode across the ring to survey his handiwork. It was a memorable image, the destroyer contemplating the destroyed, one which only further whets the appetites of fight fans for a Canelo vs Golovkin showdown, without question one of the very best matches that boxing can presently offer.
Because make no mistake, setting aside the fact that Khan was physically overmatched, this was still an impressive one-punch KO. And there is no doubt that both Alvarez and Triple G are among the most dangerous boxers in the world, pound-for-pound. The WBC has ordered Canelo to face Golovkin in his next fight, though right now the odds seem to be against that actually happening. Here’s hoping we are pleasantly surprised in the weeks ahead. — Robert Portis