Let’s take a look at the factors that come into play and can Khan pull off the upset?
Size and Power
Much of the grumble following the announcement of the bout was the obvious weight and size disparity between Alvarez and Khan, with Alvarez being the naturally the bigger fighter.
Alvarez has been fighting at the super welterweight limit over the past years, going as low as 152 pounds for his mega fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2012. His two previous bouts versus James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto were fought at a catch weight of 155 pounds. As the GGG bout looms, a full jump to the middleweight limit seems inevitable. Not a knockout artist per say, but Alvarez has shown decent power with knock downs over Austin Trout, TKO win over Alfredo Angulo, and his KO of the year performance against Kirkland, all three opponents far bigger fighters than Khan.
On the other hand, Khan has fought the bulk of his career as a lightweight and light-welterweight, with his last three matches contested at the welterweight limit, his most recent outing, a decision win over Chris Algieri happened 11 months ago. He is now moving up to super welterweight as a challenger to the middleweight title with no experience above 147 pounds. Khan has also shown a case of the glass chin dating back to his upset KO loss against Breidis Prescott, Danny Garcia, and having been badly hurt by Marcos Maidana and Lamont Peterson.
Speed and Movement
These are the only two factors where Khan holds a clear advantage. The English fighter is able to unleash multiple combinations at a blinding speed, which often causes opponents to reset as they try to adjust to the flurry. Khan has also showcased effective lateral movement, helping him to move away from danger following an assault. It’s no secret; Alvarez has struggled against fighters like Erislandy Lara and Mayweather, who are masters of effective footwork and he has yet to face an opponent with the hand speed and movement of Khan.
But will it be enough? All a fighter needs to nullify speed is pinpoint timing, an element in which Alvarez excels and Khan has suffered a KO loss against Garcia, a much slower fighter who was able to counter him with a devastating left hook in between combinations. In addition, if Alvarez has learned from his past mistakes versus Mayweather and Lara, he is now more effective in cutting off the ring which could spell trouble for Khan who will want to use his movement.
The Mexican victory in Puebla proved to be a moral victory, one that sent a notice to the rest of the world that they weren’t to be taking lightly. Khan hopes to prove the same on Saturday night. Even as the smaller fighter, he wants to send out a message to the rest of the sport, but will it happen? Many journalists and pundits, including this one, predict an easy win for the red-headed Mexican. Unfortunately, Khan’s speed and movement won’t be enough to throw off his opponent. Alvarez is a master of timing and will be successful in cutting off the ring to land heavy leather to the body. The first few rounds will probably go to Khan until Alvarez finds his rhythm and breaks his opponent down for a TKO inside seven rounds.