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Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan: The Answer for Speed is Not Punching Power

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Welterweight Amir Khan is a big underdog against lineal middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez but those who like the former's chances insist his speed could be a game-changer.

Speed is critical in boxing and can be a weighty advantage.

Given his technical prowess, amateur pedigree and elite-level pro experience, Khan's speed is what makes Canelo vs Khan intriguing and it cannot be dismissed.

Canelo vs Khan

Titles: WBC, RING Magazine
Division: Middleweight
Catchweight: 155 lbs

Date: May 7
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Location: Las Vegas

However, in boxing there's an answer for speed, even if the fighters' overall skills are comparable.

And while many have cited 'power' as the ultimate equalizer, punching strength usually is no answer for speed when the combatants' skills and size are 'reasonably' comparable.

(Yes, Canelo is bigger than Khan but it's certainly not the equivalent of a heavyweight fighting a welterweight or a featherweight having to face a middleweight. In fact, Khan is the taller of the two.)

Prior to Canelo's bout with Erislandy Lara in 2014, former boxing world champion Jesse James Leija told War a Week's hosts Joseph Herron and Rodney Green:

"But one thing that Canelo has is a great sense of timing and distance. He can slip an opponent's punch and counter effectively with great timing. Canelo is also a very explosive puncher who combines speed with power."

In boxing, all other things being relatively equal, timing and range can trump speed. And if a fighter possesses awesome timing and power, even better.

As an amateur, I sparred often with a fella taller, rangier and faster than myself. However, via superior timing, I was easily able to hit him without being hit.

After our first round of sparring, I'd figured out his rhythm and instinctively knew what he'd throw based on the direction of his feet and the position of his body.

In fact, our coach noticed me moving, stepping and rolling out of harm's way a fraction of a second before my opponent would unleash. By the time he uncorked his power shots, whether hooks, uppercuts or right hands, the target was no longer there yet could still find him with my counters.

"Timing beats speed any day," Danny Garcia insisted on the eve of his 2012 bout with Amir Khan.

... And it's exactly what the former used to catch Khan with.


In Round 3 of that bout, Garcia leaned inside of Khan's mis-placed shots, planted his feet, twisted his torso and uncorked a massive, perfectly-timed left hook. The shot, thrown with the weight of Garcia's body fully behind it, caught Amir Khan flush on the side of neck just below the ear, flooring him for only the second time in his career. 

Khan would never fully recover and the fight would be stopped in the subsequent round.

Against Canelo, Khan cannot become complacent, even if the latter builds a big lead early.

If Amir becomes too enamored with his speed, he'll fall prey to Alvarez's extraordinary timing and sense of range.

Canelo vs Khan | News


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