Canelo-Khan Grand Arrivals

Photos: Will Hart

Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan greeted fans Tuesday afternoon during their grand arrivals at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Canelo-Khan happens Saturday, May 7, at 9 PM ET, 6 PM PT on HBO PPV. 

CompuBox: Canelo vs. Khan

By CompuBox

Boxing history boasts many examples of good little men fighting good big men, and the little guys have achieved their share of wins. Amir Khan, who three fights ago was campaigning at 140, can take heart in a fight that took place six-and-a-half years ago when Manny Pacquiao, who two fights earlier fought at 129, jumped to a catch-weight of 145 to fight the massively favored Oscar de la Hoya. To the shock of most, the faster and fresher Pacquiao fought the perfect fight and battered the weight-drained "Golden Boy" into retirement. Now, at a catch-weight of 155, Khan faces WBC middleweight king Saul Alvarez, who surely will scale near 170 in the ring. Will Canelo bludgeon Khan or will the Englishman wake up the echoes of "The Pac Man" and pull off a gigantic upset?

Canelo vs. Boxers: Alvarez shined against full-out aggressors Alfredo Angulo (58% overall, 48% jabs, 64% power to Angulo's 14%-7% and 21% respectively, connect gaps of 295-104 overall, 98-26 jabs and 197-78 power) and James Kirkland (58%-21% overall, 44%-5% jabs and 60%-23% power, leads of 87-42 overall, 8-1 jabs and 79-41 power). In the third round alone against Kirkland, Alvarez landed 71% overall and 80% power. But it's a different story when Alvarez faced scientific boxers Erislandy Lara, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout. While he averaged 51 punches per round against Angulo and Kirkland, he threw just 38.1 against the troublesome trio while they threw 46.1 against him. They also landed more accurately overall (30%-25%) and in jabs (25%-12%), landed 7.0 jabs per round to Alvarez's 2.3 and out-landed him by more than four punches per round (13.7 vs. 9.4). Conversely, he more than doubled the per-round connection rate of sluggers Angulo and Kirkland (29.4 vs. 11.2). Miguel Cotto also boxed for long stretches against Alvarez and the 25-year-old Mexican, who has below-average foot speed, had trouble cutting the ring off on his 35-year-old opponent. Here, however, Alvarez was better on defense (21% overall, 14% jabs, 30% power) and landed accurately enough (32% overall, 20% jabs, 40% power) to achieve connect leads of 155-129 overall and 118-75 power, offsetting Cotto's 54-37 jab connect lead. Still, he averaged just 40.3 punches per round to Cotto's 52.4, meaning he can be out-hustled.  In fact, in his last 7 fights Canelo averaged 42.2 punches per round- 8th fewest among active champ. caliber fighters.  He landed 47.5% of his power shots, #6, while opponents landed just 26.5% of their power punches (#5). middlweight avg.: 37.2%.

Khan at 147: Statistically speaking the jump to welterweight has worked well for Khan. In his three 147-pound bouts against Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri he was more active (51.8 per round to 46.5), more precise (39%-26% overall, 27%-15% jabs, 50%-33% power), jabbed excellently (25.2 thrown/6.9 connects per round vs. 19/2.9 for the opponents), nearly doubled their connect rate (20.1 vs. 11.9 per round) and managed to stay off the canvas, mostly because none of the foes were light punchers at the weight.  In his last 11 fights, Khan landed 7.9 jabs per round-#3 among active champ. caliber fighters.  Still, Algieri buzzed Khan in rounds one, two and four and Collazo, through dominated, produced a few threatening moments. If these non-punchers can shake Khan, what will the much larger (and more skillful) Canelo do?

Prediction: To win, Khan needs to execute the perfect fight from first bell to last, which is to exploit Canelo's slow feet with mobility and in-and-out flurries while ignoring the boos. But while Khan has the tools of a superb boxer, his warrior's temperament won't allow him to stick to business. That's when Canelo's massive size, strength and power will surface. He only needs to be perfect once and once he hurts Khan he will finish Khan. Canelo by come-from-behind TKO.

Canelo-Khan Fight Week Podcast #1 - Stat Chat

In the first podcast from fight week, HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down the CompuBox numbers for this week's PPV match-up between Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan.

Is Amir Khan Fast Enough to Avoid Canelo's Power?

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

By Hamilton Nolan

Some have said that Amir Khan versus Canelo Alvarez is a mismatch. It’s not. Each man has the tools to beat the other. And each man’s tool belt is missing one thing that could save his life.

Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) is a world-class fighter who does not get the respect he deserves. He used to; but that ended on July 14, 2012, at the very moment that a Danny Garcia hook clipped the side of his head and knocked him stupid, shattering his golden boy image. Since then, he has been considered damaged goods. The world seemed to think that Khan’s fatal flaw had been exposed. He was not regarded as a complete enough fighter to climb up the pound-for-pound lists any longer.

Let us, however, give Amir Khan’s talents a rational assessment. He has some of the very fastest hands in all of boxing--certainly the fastest hands above featherweight. Khan is athletic, and his legs are fast too, but his straight punches have an otherworldly speed that can render even quick fighters helpless to get out of the way. All things being equal, Amir Khan can pop a fighter standing directly in front of him with jabs before his opponent’s eye can tell his mind to tell his body to move out of the way. His hands are fast enough to change the offensive balance of a fight. He can throw four, six, eight straight punches in a flurry and then circle away before a single counterpunch can come back. It is a powerful gift.

Earlier in his career, when he trained with Freddie Roach, he was extremely aggressive, a quality that Roach tends to cultivate in his fighters. For Khan, it was foolish. Though he managed to overwhelm many opponents with unbridled attacking speed, he also rushed into many punches that he didn’t need to. Since his switch to training with Virgil Hunter, Khan has adopted a boxing style much better suited to his abilities: he circles constantly, he uses his jab and straight right, and makes his speed his defense, rather than just his offense. When he resists the urge to jump forward and get into flurry contests, it is very, very hard for anyone to beat Amir Khan.

Indeed, none of his three losses were actually true demonstrations of a better fighter defeating him. Breidis Prescott knocked him out with a single punch in the first round in 2008; Danny Garcia, who was seen at the time as far more mediocre than Khan, likewise caught him with one big shot that led to his end early in the fight. His third loss was by decision to Lamont Peterson, in Peterson’s hometown of DC--a decision that Khan should have won. These losses tell us that Amir Khan may not have the greatest chin against big punchers. They tell us that Amir Khan should not fight like he’s in a bar fight. But none of them tell us that a greater fighter has outboxed Amir Khan when he fights intelligently. That has never happened. It has never been convincingly shown that he can be beat when he moves, and showers his opponent with combos, and does not stick his chin out.

Coincidentally, that will be his game plan.

Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) is certainly the scarier fighter. But is he the better fighter? At 25 years old, Canelo is only now becoming a fully realized fighter. He has a ton of pro fights but lacks the world class amateur career that propelled Khan through the Olympics. He is a terrifying, explosive puncher, with a right hand like a bolt gun and a left hook that stretches his chest muscles to extreme proportions, as if he were trying to rip out a cow’s stomach. He is one of the most reliably dangerous punchers in boxing; if you trade with him, you will be knocked out. Any opponent who fails to move for the entire fight can find themselves, like James Kirkland last year, knocked out so decisively that everyone wonders how their head stayed on their body.

The good news for the rest of the world is that Canelo is flat-footed. He carries a lot of muscle and fights in spurts, with vicious explosions followed by predictable periods of inactivity. He has quickness and solid boxing skills, like slipping punches and countering, but they only take place within a four-square-foot box directly in front of him, a box that he seems to trudge across the ring and set up in front of his opponent before the demolition begins. It is possible to outsmart him, out-time him, and stay away from him, as Floyd Mayweather demonstrated in Canelo’s only loss.

Of course (not to produce false hope), Floyd Mayweather is Floyd Mayweather. And then there is the little problem of the weight. This fight will take place at 155 pounds, Canelo’s preferred weight. Amir Khan’s most impressive victories took place at 140 pounds. That is quite a leap. Khan may carry up his speed, and he may carry up an increase in his power, but he will also carry up his chin. That is a problem. If a chin cannot handle a big-punching 140-pounder, it will not do well against Canelo Alvarez.

So the fight will rest entirely on how well Amir Khan fights it. He has the foot speed and the hand speed and the experience to keep Canelo at a distance, tag him with fast punches, and exit the premises. Counting on him to do this flawlessly for 12 rounds is probably not a good bet. But it is a real possibility. And that is what makes it all so interesting.

***

On the undercard, the cave man destructo-machine David Lemieux is granted a fight with Glen Tapia, a strong and (once) promising New Jersey fighter who is both smaller than Lemieux and who may never be the same after taking a truly horrifying beating at the hands of James Kirkland in 2013. That fight will be a war, and a chance for Lemieux to bounce back from a loss to Gennady Golovkin--as will the fight between Curtis Stevens, another aggressive puncher who was walloped by Golovkin, and Patrick Teixera, who is out to establish himself on the national stage. And Mauricio Herrera, one of the craftiest men in boxing, meets Frankie Gomez, a younger fighter attempting to slide into the spotlight. 

Hey Harold! - Canelo vs. Khan

HBO Boxing unofficial scorer Harold Lederman discusses Canelo vs. Khan. Canelo vs. Khan happens Saturday, May 7 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

HBO Boxing Podcast: Episode 112 - Golovkin vs Wade Postfight

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down Gennady Golovkin's 2-round dismantling of Dominic Wade and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonazalez's victory over McWilliams Arroyo.

24/7 Canelo/Khan - Episode 1: Full Show

Watch the complete first episode of 24/7 Canelo/Khan. Episode 2 debuts Sat., April 30 at 11pm ET/PT on HBO. Canelo vs. Khan happens Saturday, May 7 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT. 

In Different Ways, Golovkin and Gonzalez Dominate

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin scored his 22nd straight knockout victory as he blasted overmatched challenger Dominic Wade to the canvas three times inside two rounds at The Forum in Inglewood, California on Saturday night. Wade rose to his feet much more slowly after the second knockdown than he did after the first; after the third, he couldn’t get up at all, referee Jack Reiss counting to 10 just as Wade’s corner climbed the ring apron waving the white towel. The official time was 2:37 of round two. Golovkin improved his record to 35-0 with 32 KOs.

The result was hardly a surprise. Going in, the only question was how long Wade would last, and whether Golovkin would elect to take his time before delivering the coup de grace. This wasn’t necessarily a testament to the perceived haplessness of Wade – although, truthfully, he is hardly going to go down in history as the greatest of world title challengers. But the prefight perception was that there was a massive gulf in class between a boxer who had faced nobody even remotely on the level of a champion who has been knocking over a parade of highly competent challengers with consummate ease.

It did not take long for Wade (18-1, 12 KOs) to look out of his depth, as Golovkin stalked forward behind a stiff jab and almost immediately sought to land a hook off that jab. Wade attempted to return fire with a lengthy jab of his own and even aimed some hooks at Golovkin’s midriff, but he looked understandably uncomfortable in the face of the Golovkin offense. Toward the end of the opening frame, as the two fought in close, Wade aimed a left hand toward the champion, who uncorked a short right hand that landed on Wade’s ear. The man from Washington, DC immediately crumpled to the ground, but was able to beat the count just before the bell rang to end the round.

Golovkin began the second in a mood to search and destroy, and an overhand right to the jaw sent Wade down again. He spent a good long while on his hands and knees, either searching for the strength to rise or asking himself whether he wanted to. He did, eventually, and Reiss spoke to him at some length to confirm he was committed to continuing, but the end came just seconds later. Another right hand flattened Wade along the ropes by Golovkin’s corner, his legs splayed out at drunken angles, and that was the end of the challenger’s night.

Credit is due to Wade for taking the fight, and Golovkin can only fight who is put in front of him. And, truth be told, the crowd of 16,353 didn’t seem to feel at sll short changed by the one-sided whupping they had just witnessed. Still, Golovkin’s plea for a worthy challenger continues to be a plaintive one, although he was all smiles afterward as he told HBO’s Max Kellerman that, “of course I need big name or big fight to please the fans.” The obvious name and fight is against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, who holds one of the middleweight belts, is the lineal champion after defeating Miguel Cotto last year, and faces Amir Khan in Las Vegas on May 7. Asked if he had a message for the Mexican, Golovkin said simply, “Give me my belt. I need my belt.”

...

While Golovkin’s knockout streak continued, that of Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez came to an end after a stretch of ten consecutive stoppages thanks to an impressively resilient effort by flyweight challenger McWilliams Arroyo. Puerto Rican Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) rarely looked likely to defeat the consensus pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, but he at no stage wilted under Chocolatito’s trademark relentless assault and showed no hesitation in standing in front of his vaunted foe and trading punches. Still, the three judges’ scorecards of 119-109 (twice) and 120-108 accurately reflected the Nicaraguan’s domination over a foe who might well have beaten any other flyweight on this night.

As was the case in his last outing, against Brian Viloria, Gonzalez had a relatively quiet first couple of rounds, as Arroyo worked behind a stiff jab and looked for a home for his left hook. Suddenly, about two-thirds of the way through the second round, Gonzalez, as if having sized up his foe to his satisfaction, sprang to life.

A left hook knocked Arroyo backward in that second round, and Gonzalez began to steam forward. Arroyo fought him off, but the narrative was already being set: round after round, Gonzalez would keep stepping forward, firing a fusillade of punches from all angles, punishing Arroyo’s body and then switching upstairs with lefts and rights; Arroyo would fire back when Gonzalez took a breath, but then the champion would resume his assault.

The Puerto Rican’s cause was hardly helped when the soles of both his shoes fell apart in the fourth round, requiring some emergency taping in the corner, and it looked for a while afterward as if Arroyo might fall apart too. But he gathered himself and sought to turn back the incoming tide as best he could. The problem was that his offense was limited mostly to left hooks, and his punches were relatively slow; Chocolatito’s in contrast never stopped coming in a blur, the suffocating pressure they brought constantly driving Arroyo backward.

It says even more for Arroyo’s performance that Gonzalez (45-0, 39 KOs) was not exactly phoning it in. Round after round, he sprang out of the blocks determined to attack Arroyo’s head and torso, and in seemingly every one of those rounds there was a moment when Arroyo looked staggered or hurt and was forced to retreat to a corner or the ropes. Yet, every time he looked on the verge of wilting, he found another reserve of energy; and over the final couple of rounds, he exchanged hooks with the champion in an impressive finale from both men.

Gonzalez threw an incredible 1,132 total punches, landing 360, for a 32 percent connect rate; 311 of those landed blows were power punches. Gonzalez threw 26 more punches for power alone (737) than Arroyo did in total.

“It was a very difficult fight,” Gonzalez insisted. “McWilliams moves very well and he was able to avoid the punches. I wanted to fight and brawl and counter but it was difficult because he moves quite a bit and was hard to hit.”