CANELO V KHAN - THE WEIGHT FACTOR
By Tom Watt on April 15th 2016
Much has been made of the 155lbs limit set for the WBC Middleweight Title fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Amir ‘King’ Khan with some pundits tipping that the jump in weight class will be too much for Khan, whilst others simply aren’t happy that the Title isn’t being contested at the Middleweight limit of 160lbs.
Both Canelo and his predecessor, Miguel Cotto, have used their position of power (as defending champion and the promotional ‘A-side’) to insist upon catch-weights for their recent Title fights which, as natural Welterweights / Junior-Middleweights themselves, has given them a competitive advantage over their larger Middleweight opponents who have lost speed/power/stamina as a result of draining themselves of those extra few pounds to make a lower weight limit than they usually would.
This is an old trick in Boxing and one Canelo learnt first-hand from his only conqueror to date in Floyd Mayweather who, despite campaigning at 147 and 154lbs, chose to fight Canelo at welterweight, taking away the young Mexican’s natural size advantage and forcing him to expend vital energy in cutting weight - taking away some of his power and speed. It’s certainly not the only reason Mayweather won that fight but it certainly gave him an advantage over the younger, stronger Canelo who at times looked sluggish and unlike his usual explosive self. Mayweather was a genius in gaining advantages wherever he could and it appears Canelo has learnt from the old master since that defeat.
Coming in to this fight with Amir Khan however, the tables have turned – Canelo is the naturally bigger man, with Khan jumping up two weight divisions to face him. Instead of a weight-drained and tired Middleweight, Canelo will have a fully energised and strong Welterweight in front of him who has been able to spend his time eating, training and preparing correctly without the usual stress of his weight hanging over his head.
We have seen Khan’s body transform dramatically over the years from the skinny seventeen year old who won silver at the 2004 Olympics and each step-up in weight has seen the Bolton fighter look much stronger, not just in terms of his power but his durability. Since moving to welterweight we have not seen Khan rocked or knocked down as he was at 140 lbs against Danny Garcia or at 135lbs against Prescott and Khan has put a lot of this down to the excessive weight loss he endured to make weight for these fights. Since moving to welterweight Khan has easily dispatched of Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri – all former World Champions and shown no signs that the added weight has slowed him down or taken anything from his game
However, making the weight hasn’t been the only weight-related factor Canelo’s previous opponents have had to overcome – the young Mexican, more than anyone in the sport right now, seems to be able to put on in excess of 20lbs after weighing in on the scales, with the reigning WBC Champion coming into the ring closer to the Light-Heavyweight limit than Middleweight come fight night! It’s this size and power that has seen Alvarez deliver a Knockout of the Year to Chris Kirkland and simply bully future Hall-Of-Famer Miguel Cotto through twelve rounds to win the title.
Khan’s trainer, Virgil Hunter made a point of this “incredible transformation” during HBO’s ‘Face Off’ show and as remarkable as it is, there must come a time when the Mexican’s body can no longer withstand the rigmarole of such drastic dehydration and rehydration and should he face any fatigue come May 7ththen Khan, with his speed and undoubted Boxing ability will be on hand to take full advantage.
Khan poses a very different threat than both Kirkland and Cotto did and perhaps more comparisons can be drawn with Mayweather than any of Canelo’s other previous opponents – that record-breaking night saw Alvarez look slow and cumbersome as he chased the elusive Mayweather constantly, trying to corner the P4P king to no avail whilst constantly being countered. If Khan can take anything from that fight it is that Canelo can be frustrated by opponents who move well – both Lara and Mayweather have shown chinks in the Mexican’s armour that can and will need to be exposed if Khan is to come away with the Green Belt in Las Vegas.
It’s an intriguing match-up and without doubt, one of the most compelling of the year so far. The debate over catch-weights and re-hydration levels will continue to rage on until the first bell is rang on May 7th. Will Khan maintain his trademark speed at the new weight? Will his chin withstand any sustained punishment from the devastating Canelo? Will Canelo be able to handle Khan’s speed? All these questions will be answered when two of the sport’s biggest names face off in front of a sold-out crowd at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this weekend.