LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez is fighting Amir Khan, though the chatter this week has mostly been about Gennady Golovkin.
But if Alvarez has learned one thing while becoming Mexico’s favorite fighter, it’s that boxing is one sport where the opponent in front of you can be far more dangerous than any you might face in the future.
“You get used to it with experience,” Alvarez said. “You can’t be thinking about what could happen. You have to focus on the fight.”
A showdown with the fearsome Triple G awaits, though possibly not as soon as Golovkin wants. Alvarez seems content to fight on his own terms, and the indication this week is that he’s in no hurry to meet Golovkin, despite a mandate from the WBC to fight him next.
Alvarez doesn’t even consider himself a middleweight like Golovkin, though he holds a 160-pound title that will be at stake against Khan. The two will meet Saturday night at the MGM Grand arena at a catch weight of 155 pounds in an intriguing matchup of power versus speed.
And while the red-headed Alvarez is a 5-1 favorite, he’s not taking anything for granted.
“He has speed and elusiveness, he moves very well,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “But let’s not forget about the courage he shows every time he’s been down he’s gotten up. We respect that.”
Khan’s chin could come into play against Alvarez, who is more of a pressure fighter than a one-punch knockout artist. He’s been stopped twice by smaller fighters, and Alvarez has more power than any of his previous opponents.
But the British fighter who has fought sporadically in recent years while unsuccessfully chasing fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao believes he can find a way to win without having to run all night long.
“At times it’s going to be a chess match,” Khan said. “But at times it’s going to be standing there trading with him.”
Here’s what’s at stake in the scheduled 12-round fight:
THE BELT: The fight is for the WBC version of the middleweight title that Alvarez won from Miguel Cotto in his last fight. But it is being fought at a catch weight of 155 pounds because Alvarez doesn’t believe he’s a true middleweight quite yet. Still, it’s a stretch for Khan, who fought his last three fights at the 147-pound welterweight limit, and before that spent most of his career at 140 pounds.
TASTING DEFEAT: Khan (31-3, 19 knockouts) took his worst loss when he was stopped in the fourth round by Danny Garcia at 140 pounds in 2012, but has won his last five fights. The only blemish on the record of Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 knockouts) was a decision loss to Mayweather in 2013.
GGG FIGHT: The WBC has given the winner 15 days after the bout to negotiate a fight with Golovkin or be stripped of the belt. But Alvarez said this week that Golovkin hasn’t fought enough good fighters to get the fight, and that there should be a concession on the 160-pound limit for them to meet. Most in boxing don’t see the highly anticipated fight happening until next spring, at the earliest.
THE WEEKEND: Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas has traditionally been Mayweather’s spot to shine. But with Mayweather’s retirement the prime pay-per-view spot goes to Alvarez, who has delivered solid sales in his previous fights. Expect to pay $69.95 to see it at home on HBO PPV.
NO TRUMP: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a big fight fan, turned down an invitation from promoter Oscar De La Hoya to sit ringside. Trump and De La Hoya got into it this week over De La Hoya’s charges that Trump cheats at golf.
THE ARENA: This is the first fight in the new T-Mobile Arena, which opened last month on the Las Vegas Strip. The arena can seat up to 20,000 for boxing and is expected to replace the MGM Grand Garden arena as the home of the biggest fights in Las Vegas.