SAN DIEGO, May 8, 2016 – The case could be made that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico (47-1-1, 33 KOs) was losing after five rounds in his bout with Amir “King” Khan of Great Britain (31-4-0, 19 KOs). But with one huge right hand to the head in the sixth round, it didn’t matter what the scorecards said.
With a Knockout of the Year bid, Alvarez stopped Khan cold at 2:37 of the sixth round, dropping him to the canvas feeling all of the weight he’d put on in the fight for the WBC lineal middleweight championship.
As the fight got underway, Khan seems to sacrifice none of his trademark speed with the added weight. He moved well, never standing in one place twice. Early he employed his jab and threw elegant combinations, scoring well against Alvarez. It seemed like Khan and trainer Virgil Hunter were doing exactly what they needed to do: construct the perfect fight plan, and execute it perfectly.
Boxing media observers saw Khan digging a hole on the scorecards for Alvarez, believing Khan had won two, three, even four of the first five rounds. Khan was sharp and forcing Alvarez to chase him. Alvarez threw and missed several big punches, causing the crowd to gasp at times. Judge Adelaide Byrd had the fight 48-47 Khan; but judges Glenn Feldman (48-47) and Glenn Trowbridge (49-46) scored it for Alvarez.
One Big Right Hand changed everything. In the sixth, Canelo Alvarez fired a Knockout of the Year punch, a single overhead right which landed perfectly flush to Khan’s head. He fell straight back onto the canvas out cold. Forget any criticism of a “glass chin,” the punch would have brought down anyone. Referee Kenny Bayliss did not even administer a count.
Khan was transported to a local Las Vegas hospital for a medical review as a safety precaution. He reported via Twitter, “I’m OK everyone. That’s boxing for you! congrats to @Canelo monster punch, much love to all the fans!”
As the elated partisan crowd erupted in cheers for the victory, there were several moments of sincere concern, as Khan did not get up quickly. He did finally make it way to the corner, and several minutes later was able to conduct an interview, seemingly recovered. Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya said later “I strongly believe that KO will hold up at Knockout of the Year. I believe it was even more devastating than the Kirkland knockout.”
Watching the show among the 16,540 in the T-Mobile Arena from a front row vantage point was current unified WBA/IBF/IBO and WBC middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin along with his trainer, Abel Sanchez. Alvarez invited them up to the ring, and they stood just feet away as HBO’s Max Kellerman interviewed Alvarez after the fight. Why were they there? “I invited him to the ring,” said Alvarez. “Like we say in Mexico, we don’t f*** around. We don’t fight for rings and stuff like that. I don’t fear anyone. We don’t come to play in this sport, I fear no one in this sport. Like I said in the last fight, right now I’ll put on the gloves again.”
Golovkin and Sanchez say Alvarez was “just emotional” in the aftermath of this fight. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said, “You hear Canelo after the fight calling out Golovkin? He even wanted to fight him in the ring right now tonight That’s the fight to make. Tomorrow I will make the call. I will start negotiating and I really hope we can come to an agreement.
“Golovkin. be sure to answer your phone tomorrow,” De La Hoya said. “I’m not going to talk about detail, I’m not going to talk about what we’re going to talk about (with media). Those negotiations will happen behind closed doors. When we come to an agreement we will let everybody know,” De La Hoya promised.
At the post fight news conference, Alvarez reconfirmed he is willing to fight Golovkin, but he repeatedly refers to talking with “his team,” providing him cover to let them be the bad guys in negotiations. Fans will have little patience for game playing over catch weights, venues, and A-side versus B-side maneuvers. World Boxing Council president Mauricio Suliaman confirmed it will strip Alvarez of his world middleweight title if he fails to meet Golovkin. Let’s hope it isn’t necessary, but Suliaman needs to be good to his word if it does.
Khan and trainer Virgil Hunter weighed in, encouraging Alvarez to make the fight with Golovkin. “I think it’s time now where Canelo needs to step in with Triple G because everyone’s been waiting for that fight,” said Khan. “So I showed my balls by getting into the ring with a big guy. But look, I mean this is boxing. I wanted to go out there as a champion. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the end but I tried my best.”
“He took the risk, he gave up everything,” said Hunter. “No concessions. Now it’s time for him (Alvarez) to take the risk and quit hiding behind little stuff … Fighters should fight each other … He got to quit hiding behind the flag and fight Triple G.”
Hunter is right. It takes plenty of nerve on Khan’s part to step up to this fight and he acquitted himself well for as long as it was in it. All past criticism of Khan’s chin could have been due to draining himself for fights at 140 and 147 pounds. He looked strong and sharp at 155 pounds. Fighting at super welterweight (154 pounds), Khan can remain a force and take away new lessons he can put to use. All fight fans should welcome seeing him in the ring again.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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