Canelo vs Khan: Don't Sleep on Underdog

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Many are dismissing Amir Khan's (31-3, 19 KO) chances to defeat middleweight champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (46-1-1, 32KOs) on May 7.

However, Khan's former trainer, Freddie Roach, insists an upset for his ex-pupil is not out of the realm of possibility.

"Don't count Khan out completely, because he is a good boxer. But he's going to have to box a perfect fight for twelve rounds...that means he's going to have to really pay attention and stay away from this guy's power, and that's going to be really difficult for him to do," Roach told

"He likes to stay in the pocket a little too long sometimes. He wont be able to tie a big strong guy up like he's done in the past with smaller guys. Canelo is very dangerous," Roach said.

And no fight is more indicative of Roach's comments than Khan's dust-up with Danny Garcia in 2012.

For the first 2 1/2 rounds, Amir Khan dazzled onlookers with a masterful display of speed, accuracy and technical brilliance.

A bit more aggressive than usual, Amir Khan wasted no time engaging Garcia and repeatedly dropped hard right-hands behind a blinding jab and unleashed fast, crisp combinations on a foe who appeared clearly outgunned at the onset. The ring general early on, Khan used his two inch reach advantage and superior hand-speed and technical skills to effectively dictate the tempo and win nearly all the exchanges on the inside and outside.

Defensively, the quicker, fleet-footed Khan also effectively darted inside and out to escape Garcia's return fire and stay out of harm's way. And when Garcia managed to get the angle advantage on Khan on the inside, the Brit alertly coiled into a defensive shell à la Floyd Mayweather and allowed Garcia to unload non-scoring shots on his biceps, elbows and hips until the fighters reset.

But despite Amir Khan's initial success, Danny Garcia sat in the pocket and was seemingly unflappable under the wall of flying leather in front of him. With his hands held high, Garcia was well-protected and effectively parrying or rolling with many of Khan's power shots to the head.

And then, midway through Round 3, Khan asserted himself again by stepping forward to land a seemingly potent left-hook/right uppercut combination, 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.

A wobbly Khan barely arose and attempted to fight back valiantly but his efforts would prove futile and the fight was halted in Round 4.

Nearly four year later, no other fighter has exploited Danny the way Khan did in those first two rounds. Those stanzaa are arguably still the worst in his career.

Against Canelo, Khan, no matter how much success he's having, must stay focused and disciplined enough not to engage toe-to-toe with the bigger, stronger opponent.

If Khan starts getting the better of Canelo, look for the Mexican to 'play hurt' on the ropes to attempt to lure the Brit in, as he did with Floyd Mayweather.

Khan must not take the bait.

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