Amir Khan came, he saw but ultimately he was conquered by the hard punching Saul “Canelo,” Alvarez in their clash for the WBC middleweight world title at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
For the most part Khan boxed to his game plan. He moved well, firing off fast crisp punches in bunches to take rounds one through four. Canelo started slow, telegraphing a lot of his work and just falling out of range with his shots.
The early indications could have led us to believe that there was an upset in the works but by the sixth Canelo had closed the distance and landed a murderous right hand that caught Khan flush and almost immediately knocked him out cold.
The knockout was made all the more sickening as the momentum of the fall caused Khan to bang his head off the canvas. It was a brutal knockout reminiscent of the way in which Manny Pacquiao stopped Ricky Hatton in two rounds in 2009.
There were frightful number of seconds between the referee Kenny Bayless waving the fight over and the medical professionals entering the ring. To his credit after the knockout Canelo dropped to his knees to check on his stricken foe. It was a small glimmer of humanity in an otherwise brutal affair.
Khan regained his senses and was engaging with the press after the fight but it will have been hugely disappointing for him especially as he was ahead on points. Credit must be given to Khan for taking on Canelo, a fight in which he was always going to be the underdog. Up until the knockout he had been employing a very good strategy but he perhaps failed to utilise the jab sufficiently enough to keep Canelo off balance.
He made $6 million for his nights work but he would have surely preferred the victory. He remains the number one contender for the WBC’s welterweight title and that should is where he should campaign in the future. A domestic clash with IBF welterweight champion would be the fight most fans would like to see him in.
The next step for Canelo remains uncertain. The WBC have ordered that he now enter into negotiations with Gennady “GGG,” Golovkin for what would be a massive unification bout in the middleweight division. After beating Khan, Canelo made all the right noises about fighting Golovkin but the reality is if he decides to vacate the WBC title he is now such a big attraction that he doesn’t need a title to make the top dollar. It may be a case of watch this space.
Speaking of top dollar, Anthony, “Million Dollar,” Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) pulled off perhaps the biggest win of his career with a seventh round stoppage of the hard punching Ismael Barroso (19-0-2 18 KOs) in their WBA world lightweight title fight at the Manchester Arena.
Barroso was last seen on British shores dismantling Kevin Mitchell in five rounds. He had established himself as the danger man of the lightweight division and the mandatory challenger for Crolla’s WBA title. There were more than a few who favoured him over the champion going into this fight.
Crolla and his trainer Joe Gallagher must have banked on Barroso having never gone beyond six rounds before because of the tactics they employed in this fight. Crolla effectively absorbed all of Barroso’s best work, taking the punches on his forearms while keeping his chin down behind a high guard.
Barroso did eventually punch himself out and Crolla stopped him in the seventh. It was an impressive win, perhaps one of the most impressive wins for a British fighter in recent years and it highlights that Crolla has grown into the role of champion.
In other results super-middleweight Martin Murray (33-3-1, 16 KOs) remained on track for his domestic clash with George Groves in June with a second round stoppage of Cedric Spera (12-5 2 KOs) and heavyweight Dereck Chisora (25-6 17KOS) lost a split decision to former world title challenger Kubrat Pulev (22-1) for the European title in Germany. The fight was an eliminator for the IBF title and Pulev will now be in line for a shot at Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight crown.