LOS ANGELES: Amir Khan is taking inspiration from Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League title triumph as he prepares for a daunting battle with World Boxing Council middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas today.
The 29-year-old Amir will start as a massive underdog when he climbs into the ring to face the hard-hitting Alvarez at the gambling haven’s sparkling new 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena.
Amir, who normally fights at welterweight, is stepping up by two divisions to face Alvarez, a destructive puncher who has compiled an impressive 46-1 record with 32 knockouts.
The world title showdown is billed as a classic contrast of styles, pitting the elusiveness and speed of Amir (31-3, 19 knockouts) against the brute strength of the naturally bigger Alvarez.
But in a week when the exploits of 5,000-1 shots Leicester have captivated the sporting world, Amir believes he is able to write another fairytale win.
“I’m seen as the underdog in this fight against Canelo but I feel this is the year of the underdog,” said Amir after arriving in Las Vegas this week. “What Leicester City achieved is absolutely amazing. I’m definitely going to use that to help me. I’m ready to shock the world and beat Canelo.”
Yet the bullishness of the challenger cannot mask the fact that even his trainer, the San Francisco-based Virgil Hunter, was sceptical about the wisdom of choosing to fight Alvarez.
“Initially I didn’t like the fight. But I hadn’t seen Amir,” said Hunter. “So when he came to camp I was surprised to see how much he had grown.”
The fight could hinge on whether Amir will be able to stick and move for 12 rounds while simultaneously avoiding Alvarez’s heaviest body blows.
Alvarez is confident he will be able to hunt down an opponent who continues to face questions about his chin after more than a decade as a professional. “Many think it’s just about my power but when they get in the ring they realise that’s not all there is,” said Alvarez.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2016.