LAS VEGAS – For most of the first six rounds Saturday, Amir Khan was doing everything he needed to do to lift the WBC middleweight title from champion Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena.
He was boxing beautifully, using angles, and popping Alvarez with punches that kept him at bay.
And then, just like that, Canelo fired a blistering right over a lazy Khan left and Khan was out instantly. He landed flat on his back in the center of the ring, reminiscent of the way Ricky Hatton wound up looking at the ceiling against Manny Pacquiao in 2009.
The finish was 2:37 of the sixth.
Alvarez was up on two of the three scorecards at the time of the stoppage. Adalaide Byrd had Khan 48-47, but Glenn Trowbridge had it 48-47 for Alvarez. Yahoo Sports had it 48-47 for Khan.
“He is a fast fighter and I knew things would be competitive in the beginning,” Alvarez said. “But I knew they would come to my favor as the fight went on.”
Alvarez was stalking the entire fight, but frequently was catching nothing but air in the first five rounds. Khan’s quickness was evident and Alvarez was unable to cut off the ring.
It’s a clear weakness and something he desperately needs to fix.
But Alvarez is a much bigger man physically and carries a lot more power. Khan had been knocked out at lightweight and at super lightweight and it was a stretch to think that fighting at 155 pounds, by eight pounds the highest of his career, he could absorb Alvarez’s power and keep going.
Alvarez’s best work was to the body, but he wasn’t able to put together combinations for most of the fight. He’d land to the body and Khan would slide out of danger, often hitting Alvarez with a jab and a right hand.
Khan cracked Alvarez with a clean straight right in the first, and it barely fazed Alvarez. He didn’t move.
But when Alvarez finally landed his big shot, the bout was over in an instant. Alvarez had picked up the pace in the second half of the fourth and was doing better over the fourth, fifth and into the sixth.
“People have known me only for my power, but I have many more qualities in the ring and I showed that,” Alvarez said. “I think people saw more of me.”
Khan also appeared fatigued a bit as the sixth round began and wasn’t moving as quickly as he had earlier.
He left his left hanging out there, a cardinal sin, and he paid for it dearly. Alvarez turned his hips and connected with a right that simply overpowered Khan.
The heavily pro-Alvarez crowd in this new $375 million showcase of an arena erupted the minute the punch connected, as everyone knew Khan wasn’t getting up from it.
Few in the division could take those kinds of shots, let alone a fighter who was knocked out in the first round by lightweight Breidis Prescott and in the fourth by super lightweight Danny Garcia.
When the bout ended, Alvarez ran to ringside and invited WBA-IBF champion Gennady Golovkin into the ring. The public has been hoping to see that showdown, but Yahoo Sports has learned that Golden Boy has reached an agreement with Roc Nation Sports, Cotto’s promoter, they had about the pay split over the November bout with Alvarez.
It is not finalized, but Golden Boy and Roc Nation are moving toward a rematch later this year. That leaves Golovkin on the outside again. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said the winner would have to fight Golovkin next or be stripped, but the belt is a small trinket compared to the prize of a mega-fight.
Still, Alvarez acted interested in meeting Golovkin.
“I invited him into the ring,” Alvarez said. “Like we say in Mexico, ‘We don't [expletive] around.’ I don't fear anyone. We don't come to play in this sport [and] I fear no one in this sport.”
Asked if he would fight Golovkin later this year, Alvarez said, “Right now, I will put on the gloves again.”