The raucous Mexican holiday weekend of Cinco de Mayo -- May 5th -- has for the past few years been a date reserved for boxing's megastar Floyd Mayweather. But that brash money-obsessed American retired last year after bowing out with a non-eventful points win over underdog Andre Berto.
And yet, savvy broadcasters were seldom concerned about losing Mayweather to retirement for one good reason. All along they knew there was a flame-haired Mexican ready to fill his ego-shaped void in the form of the more exciting and affable Saul 'Canelo' Alarvrez.
Canelo, which in Spanish means cinnamon -- owing to his unusual red hair -- likes to march forward and has power in both hands. From a promotional point of view, you'd struggle to create such a character in a population of 122 million.
The Mexican's next opponent, however, is Britain's own superstar in the larger-than-usual form of Boltonian Amir Khan -- where Canelo will lay on the line his WBC middleweight title. Promoters didn't miss a trick and have promoted the showdown as 'Khanelo'. It is an intriguing matchup for boxing fans, and bookies will have a field day creating the odds.
When Canelo fights, its always a multimillion dollar affair.
Khan is understandably a heavy underdog. He is moving up two weight categories and has a notably suspect chin that Canelo could well exploit. But a knowledgable fan will create an argument for a Khan points win due to the Brit's hand-speed and finely-tuned boxing skills.
Virgil Hunter, Khan's trainer who specialises in a somewhat defensive boxing style, will sure be looking at Canelo's only recorded loss during the Mexican's career -- which came at the hands of a defensive Mayweather over two years ago. Khan won a silver medal at 2004 Athens Olympics; and you don't win Olympic medals as an amateur without top notch ring-craft.
And yet, such is the fickle and brilliant nature of boxing, Khan has said this week that he believes Canelo is a tougher fight than if he'd have fought Mayweather. He could well be right.
If Khan can maintain his aggressive mindset after the bell rings and as the rounds progress -- yet at the same time not become careless and be tempted into a war -- then it will likely be mid-rounds that we'll perhaps discover that a huge upset is underway, and Cinco de Mayo weekend could become a sobering affair for Mexicans.
The Mexican crowd will also be suitably hostile; but British boxing fans are -- as Khan himself pointed out -- some of the loudest and most passionate around. But fans are there to watch; and if Khan is to pull-off the upset, he'd better ignore the crowd and concentrate on his not getting into the type of brawl that would favour Canelo.
"This is a tougher fight than against a Mayweather or Pacquiao because of the size difference but I love that sort of challenge - it's why I'm in boxing," Khan said. "I'm going in there to give everything and to prove that this is where I belong. I've done some great work for this camp and will be ready to go as soon as the bell rings to start the fight."
Some respected boxing people such as David Haye are getting on the Khan bandwagon, and the more that do, the less favourable odds will become for the Khan believers.
It's not often I bet on boxing, but some fights are so intriguing that it's worth laying down a few quid. I fancy a punt on Khan to win by unanimous decision, so will check what offers Grizzly Gambling have going before fight night, as I've used them a couple of times before and prefer them to others. This fight is too big to not make the night even more of an event.
The irony is that whoever does win this Cinco de Mayo showdown will have to square off with feared middleweight wrecking-ball Gennady Golovkin; something neither Khan nor Canelo would be keen to do. The idea of Khan fighting Golovkin may seem like mad speculation; but you'd also be mad to rule out the hungry and talented Brit at this stage in his career.Suggest a correction