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Canelo vs Khan: Will Amir use famous Muhammad Ali tactic

Lee Cleveland Updated
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When Amir Khan and Canelo Alvarez meet tomorrow night, conventional wisdom says the former will need to stay out of harm's way to win the bout.

And Khan certainly can't win a decision by running all night.

Look for the smaller but presumably faster Khan to implement quite a few tactics against Canelo Alvarez, especially one age old boxing trick. In fact, FightSaga writer Jason Leach mentioned it in his article Canelo vs Khan: Prediction and keys to Fight.

Stealing rounds -- If it is not the brainchild of Muhammad Ali, he certainly popularized it.

What's the "Stealing Rounds" Strategy?

Answer: A flurry of activity at the end of a round to make up for a lackluster round preceding the flurry in order to leave a lasting impression on judges and fans the flurrying fighter won the round.

A fighter who employs this strategy hopes judges (and viewers) forget what happened in the round's first two minutes and make their determination largely on the activity that's "fresher" in their minds which, of course, is the last 30 to 60 seconds.

The strategy is often used by:
1) out-of-shape or ill-prepared fighters who feel the need to conserve energy
2) aging fighters who can no longer fight a full three minutes of each round in a distance bout and
3) defensive-minded or outgunned fighters who, for whatever reason, believe it's in their best interest, from a tactical standpoint, to minimize engagement with his/her opponent for a full three minutes of every round.

Canelo vs Khan would fall under No. 3.

How does this work?

Someone in the corner with a time clock usually yells "One Minute" or "Thirty Seconds" to alert the fighter it's time to pick up the pace.

The concept of stealing rounds was made popular by the legend when he was fighting - but still winning - well beyond his past-due date. It was later revitalized by a past-his-prime Sugar Ray Leonard.

And yes, it is sometimes effective.

Canelo vs Khan
Titles: WBC, RING Magazine
(Alvarez def)
Division: Middleweight
Catchweight: 155 lbs

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

It worked for Ali as he won some razor-thin decisions late in his career against the likes of Kenny Norton, Jimmy Young and Ernie Shavers.

However, to win a "close" round by mounting an attack at the end is entirely different than "giving away" the first 2 - 2 1/2 minutes of each round.

If the strategy is employed by a fighter who is fighting reasonably well but narrowly winning or losing after the first two minutes of a stanza, he/she may have a strategy to win the round by stealing it in the waning moments. But for a fighter who is lackluster and virtually gives away the first 2-2 1/2 minutes of a round, the concept often fails, but not always.

Sugar Ray Leonard employed this tactic against Marvelous Marvin Hagler and in his rematch Thomas Hearns which was won by the Sugar Man despite being floored twice and hurt on several occasions.

Foreman vs Schultz
George Foreman vs Axel Schultz (1994) is one of the most egregious examples of a fighter trying to win a bout by fighting only 30-60 seconds of each round.

Then lineal heavyweight champion George Foreman clearly outboxed Axel Schultz in a bout that wasn't even close and, thankfully, the judges were not fooled by Schulz's strategy.

The German would, literally, fight the last 15-45 seconds of each round after allowing Foreman to control the first 2-2 1/2 minutes. Moreover, when Schultz unleashed his flurries in the last 30 seconds, many of his shots missed.

However, because his punches were eye-catching and a few found their target, many viewers were tricked into thinking Axel was pilling-up rounds and not giving Foreman for credit for 1) landing more shots and 2) being the aggressor and effective ring general the first 2-2/12 minutes of at least 9 of the 12 rounds.

According to punchstat, Foreman landed 249 of 543 punches. Schulz landed 229 of 482. 

Big George was busier, landed more shots and certainly landest the hardest punches yet the fight was controversial because some were tricked into thinking Schultz  was wining rounds when, in fact, he would win only 20-45 seconds of each three minute round.

And that's certainly not enough to unseat a champion.

In Canelo vs Khan, play close attention to the last 30 seconds of each round.

Will Khan try to steal it? if so, how?

And will Canelo vs Khan be won via heist?


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