Moving on up: Has Amir Khan bitten off more than he can chew?

Amir Khan

Golden Boy

One of the biggest talking points in the run up to the Amir Khan vs. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez bout on May 7th is the leap in weight that the Bolton man is taking in order to take on his Mexican foe.

Khan, last competing at 147lbs, will be stepping up from welterweight to fight for the WBC and The Ring middleweight title, and it will be a 155lb catchweight contest. This is still an 8lbs increase, which makes an even bigger difference when you consider the calibre of the opposition.

Although some believe it to be an issue he can overcome, the general consensus goes the opposite way. If you visit 32red on mobile here, you’ll find Khan at 11/4 in the betting lines. However, given Alvarez’s propensity to chase matchups at 155lbs rather than the full 160, it’s not so much out of the grasp of Khan that victory is unfeasible.

Some critics suggest that Khan’s speed can be a determining factor against the bigger and more powerful Canelo. It’s correct that there will be an advantage, and a smart fight would be played out on the edge of Khan’s reach by not allowing the more bullish Mexican time on the inside. Since moving up to 147 in 2014, the former Team GB Olympian has put in some of his best performances and has convincingly defeated the likes of Chris Algieri and Devon Alexander.

Virgil Hunter confirmed Khan’s confidence in the move, admitting it was that sense of certainty in the boxer’s attitude that allowed him to change his mind after initially having reservations.

“I wasn’t for the fight,” he stated. “But what changed my outlook was Amir’s response to me. He understood what he was going up against.”

Lancashire native Khan was the first to assert that he was feeling more powerful given the extra pounds. Eating and training his way up to a new division, he says, has given him more muscle and strength, whilst simultaneously boasting – even more hand speed.

Whether the forced growing of a smaller man can compete with an opponent who is naturally bigger remains to be seen. Yes, we’ve seen it happen in the past and everybody loves nothing more than a David vs. Goliath victory, but this isn’t a fable. It’s real life and Alvarez’s punches will definitely be real on the night.

Interestingly and not without good reason, BetBright, 32Red, NetBet and other bookmakers have Alvarez odds on to win by knockout at the time of writing. Kahn has only been knocked out twice in a high-level career, but he has also been sent to the canvas by much smaller and less renowned punchers than Alvarez. 

It’s a stigma that has followed him around for his whole career, despite at times eating hard shots against elite level opposition and continuing to move forward. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever put it to rest and especially not if the champion dispatches the challenger inside the distance. 

 Alvarez has 32 KOs in his 46 victories and, combining with a nod to Khan’s whiskers, this gives us what is arguably the most likely outcome.

More and more British boxers are coming out in support of Khan to give their countryman a boost. Former world champion Ricky Hatton said Khan had a chance with speed and movement. But it’s unclear whether you can take these statements at face value, rather than empty soundbites to encourage a friend or acquaintance who has a major task in the near future.