Amir Khan and Canelo Alvarez both looked sharp in the handmade designer suits as they spoke with the press one final time ahead of their WBC Middleweight title fight. The buzz surrounding event is slowly starting to pick up. The heavy hitters and deadline media from the States have arrived and there is a cordial, if not somewhat subdued ambience leading up to fight night at the new T-Mobile Arena on May 7th.
It feels like the quiet before the storm. Unlike other big fights here in Vegas that have involved UK fighters such as Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe and Frank Bruno, the pandemonium and cacophony of fans singing along to the tune of Winter Wonderland has yet to be heard at the MGM Grand. Amir Khan and his army – I have only counted about Twenty of them so far. They have conducted themselves like the combatants, humble and discreet. The polar opposite to the gregarious fans who drank Vegas dry back in the day. There is a serenity to this event that is surreal, is it the quiet before the storm?
This is definitely a new era in boxing. Canelo clearly has style and charisma. Looking like a Mexican Ryan Reynolds in his hand stitched plaid suit, he represents the antithesis to the Braggadocious ways of Floyd Mayweather Jnr (The only man to defeat Canelo).
The media hype surrounding a Mayweather fight was chaotic, hectic and offered a multitude of outlandish soundbites, promised drama and controversy – but in reality come fight night failed to deliver any real excitement. Both Canelo and Khan are different. For entertainment value – both fighters bring excitement and are not afraid to engage and stand toe to toe with their rival in order to prove their skill and metal.
This is what is so appealing about this fight. Neither boxer is rarely in a bad fight. Khan to his detriment in the past has mixed it up and come unstuck against Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Colombian power puncher Breidis Prescott and very nearly Marcos Maidana. But to the hardcore fan that is an endearing quality that often gets overlooked. Quite simply Khan has to be one of the most entertaining UK fighters in recent years. It is just a great shame that he has not been embraced so fervently as Anthony Joshua by the British fans.
Stepping up to middleweight to face Canelo is a huge step up for Khan, but proves that he is willing to risk everything to reach his ultimate goal of being accepted as a pound for pound champion. It is a momentous task, but Khan does possess the skills to pull off an upset. The big question is can he handle and avoid Canelo’s power for Twelve Rounds?
Both fighters carry themselves in a respectful manner. There is no badmouthing here. You get the feeling that Khan and Canelo are saving their energy for each other. The two-time world champion and Olympic Silver Medalist was in good spirits at the Ka Theatre as he predicted victory on Saturday night.
“On Saturday you will see the best of Amir Khan. Canelo is a great champion who is dedicated to the sport of boxing, but it is my time and I’m going to grab it with both hands. It’s been my dream to hold a great fight like this in Las Vegas. And, you never know-this could be the last fight between Canelo and I here in Vegas if Donald Trump is elected president.” – Amir Khan
His trainer Virgil Hunter looked somewhat tired and bored by proceedings. If one was a body language expert I believe the signs look ominous for Khan. Sin City is an unforgiving place. Many come to live out their dreams, but more often than not leave Las Vegas having cashed out and lost. Whilst Hunter’s words confirm much of what we already know about Amir Khan, he never used the most important adjectives in his speech “Win” or “Victory”.
“Glad to see everyone here again. It’s an honor to really be beside Amir in this situation. He has been through so much in his career with adversity but here he is willing to step up two weight classes and then some to prove he got in to this sport to show he has a legacy and fears no one. I learned this early on from him. I was amazed the first time I saw him spar, and his attitude is amazing. He will walk right in to the face of adversity and it is a pleasure to be right beside him when he walks right in to the ring on May 7. Saturday night will be a great fight.” – Virgil Hunter
Canelo the Champion on the other hand oozes confidence. A man of few words, he is the new star of boxing. Whist Gennady Golovkin has the power and mystic, Alvarez has the magnetism to crossover and attract a new fan base to the sport. To him Amir Khan is a challenge, but also really just a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Speaking through an interpreter – Goldenboy Matchmaker Robert Diaz, who ingeniously came up with the fight, he expressed his respect for his opponent and adoration for his fans.
“There’s not too much more left to say, the fight is here. I just want to thank each and every one of you for your support and promotion of this fight. I’m very happy with the work I have done. Khan is a very fast, very elusive, and very tricky fighter, but I am happy with the work I have done and I am ready to go in the ring and break him down. And again, I am much honoured to be opening T-Mobile Arena. Come Saturday, I’m excited to yell, ¡Viva Mexico!” – Canelo Alvarez
The chips are stacked against Amir Khan. As the fight draws nearer the odds are narrowing every so slightly. On Saturday night it is up to Amir Khan to prove the doubters wrong and demonstrate that speed truly will overcome the brawn and raw power of Saul Canelo Alvarez.
PHOTOS – Eoin Mundow