The distinct aroma of cinnamon will fill the air at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on May 7. That’s when Saul Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) will put his WBC middleweight title on the line against Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs).
Universally known as “Canelo” (Spanish for “cinnamon man”), Alvarez will be making his first middleweight title defense after claiming the vacant belt in a win over Miguel Cotto (unanimous decision, 119-109, 118-110, 117-111) in November.
The dominant win over Cotto was the fourth straight for the 25-year-old, whose only career blemish came via majority decision against Floyd Mayweather (117-111, 116-112, 114-114).
His fight with Khan will take place at a catchweight of 155 pounds. Canelo will undoubtedly enter the ring as the larger fighter, probably tipping the scales somewhere around 170 by the time he steps in the ring. Khan is a more natural (light-) welterweight who’s used to weighing in around 147.
Neither fighter will have a distinct height or reach advantage – both are around 5’9 with a 71-inch reach – so Canelo’s edge in girth looks all the more important. And it’s not an edge he usually needs. Alvarez has been knocking out natural middleweights his entire career. He wasn’t able to stop Cotto, but earned a third-round KO over James Kirkland the fight prior.
That’s the main reason Alvarez is a 1/3 favorite for the bout.
But there’s no denying the sheer talent that Khan will bring to the ring. After a rough patch around New Year’s 2012, when he lost back-to-back fights with Lamont Peterson (split decision) and Danny Garcia (TKO), the Olympic silver medalist got his career back on track with five straight wins.
He captured the WBA welterweight title in May 2014 with a unanimous decision over Luis Collazo and then defended it twice against Devon Alexander and, most recently, Chris Algieri (both unanimous decisions, as well).
Khan has 19 knockouts on his resume, but none in his last seven fights. If he’s going to contend with Canelo, he’ll have to work his jab from a distance and hope it keeps the ferocious Mexican at bay.
While Khan’s speed will trump Canelo’s, his lack of power is going to be a massive problem. I expect Alvarez to be able to eat a few jabs and straights and keep moving forward. Once he’s inside, Khan’s speed advantage will be neutralized and Canelo’s power will take over.
After all, Khan’s been knocked-out by a lightweight before (Breidis Prescott back in 2008). If Canelo connects with a power shot, it should be lights out.
Prediction: Canelo Alvarez by knockout.
(Photo credit: Boxing (YouTube).)