DSH Boxing Notebook: Canelo Alvarez to face Amir Khan on May 7

February 2, 2016

This week's version of The Daily Sports Herald's Boxing Notebook discusses the biggest fight of the year thus far -- the recently announced bout between Canelo Alvarez and Britain's Amir Khan.  Take a look below at the latest news in the sweet science:

Canelo to fight Khan in May

In a surprise announcement considering the relative size disparity between the two fighters, WBC, Ring Magazine, and Lineal Middleweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) will make his first title defense of 2016 against former two-time world champion Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) on May 7 in a matchup of two of the biggest stars in boxing.

The event will be shown live by HBO Pay-Per-View, and Golden Boy Promotions will exclusively promote the fight.

"As the middleweight champion of the world, I will take on the best fighters in the sport and on Cinco De Mayo weekend, I look forward to making the first defense of my titles," said Canelo Alvarez. "Amir was a decorated amateur, a two-time world champion and is in the prime of his career. Fans are in for a great fight on May 7."

Most boxing observers understood that Alvarez, 25, was not going to jump immediately into a showdown with Gennady Golovkin so soon after his win over Miguel Cotto, but the Khan selection was not expected.

"We are committed to putting on the biggest and best fights in boxing," said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO, Oscar De La Hoya. "Canelo is the biggest star in the sport and as he demonstrated against James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto last year, he is only getting better. Those who predicted that he would take an easy fight for his first defense have been proven wrong once again. As for Amir, he has won his last five fights including an incredible performance against Devon Alexander, and now that he is back where he belongs at Golden Boy Promotions, his future is very bright, once again."

Khan, who had been looking to fight both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather over the last two years, finally has the showcase pay-per-view bout he has always craved, but he will be going against a talented opponent who is significantly larger.  In order to have any success, Khan will need to rely on his blazing fast hand speed, while also avoiding Alvarez's powerful combinations.

"I know Canelo fights the best and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to face me like others have," said Amir Khan. "My goal is to always fight the biggest names and the best fighters that is why I'm excited for this fight. Also, I would like to thank my team and Golden Boy Promotions for this opportunity. I know I have the speed and ability to beat him and will give my fans what they deserve on May 7."

Since his loss to Floyd Mayweather, Canelo has won four straight fights, defeating Alfredo "Perro" Angulo via 10th round technical knockout, and Erislandy Lara via split decision in 2014. Alvarez later dazzled with a victory over the fierce James Kirkland, and then defeated future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cotto via unanimous decision for the WBC, RING Magazine and Lineal Middleweight Championship.

After suffering a loss to Danny Garcia, Khan has been on his own win streak as well, defeating Carlos Molina, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander, and Chris Algieri.

Heavyweight bout announced on Leo Santa Cruz undercard

Unbeaten brawlers Gerald Washington (16-0-1, 11 KOs) and Oscar Rivas (18-0, 13 KOs) will meet in a 10-round showdown of rising heavyweights on Saturday, February 27, in the opening bout of a Showtime tripleheader from Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

“I’m thrilled to be fighting so close to home in front of all my friends and family,” said Washington. “Oscar Rivas is a hard puncher but he’s never faced anyone as big and strong as I am. I’m anxious to get in the ring and continue to prove myself on my way to a world title opportunity.”

A two-way player (tight end and defensive end) at the University of Southern California, Washington spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills practice squads on his unconventional path that led him to boxing.

The 33-year-old also worked in the Navy as a helicopter mechanic before going to USC and did not get his start in professional boxing until 2012. Fighting out of San Jose, California, he is yet to lose in his latest endeavor after fighting to a draw with Amir Mansour in October and defeating Jason Gavern in March last year.

Rivas, who represented Colombia at the 2008 Olympics, fought exclusively as a pro in his adopted hometown of Montreal before making his U.S. debut with a first-round knockout of Jason Pettaway in June 2015. The 28-year-old is riding a seven-fight knockout streak and most recently took down Joey Abell in the second round of a November 2015 fight. He will be looking to impress against the toughest opponent of his career on February 27.

“I’m very excited to be fighting Gerald Washington in my first fight in Southern California,” said Rivas. “I know that he is a very tough, strong fighter. I will be prepared to come out victorious and stay undefeated as I head towards my goal of becoming a world champion.”

In addition to the heavyweight bout, the telecast features two world title fights. In the main event, undefeated three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz will make the first defense of his Featherweight World Championship against former world champion Kiko Martinez. Also on the undercard will be an exciting super bantamweight world title rematch between Mexican power-punchers Julio Ceja and Hugo Ruiz.

Jesse Hart to face Dashon Johnson in Philly on March 18

Super middleweight Jesse Hart brings his boxing skills back home for the first time in 15 months when he defends his North American Boxing Organization (NABO) title against Dashon Johnson, of Escondido, California, in the scheduled 10-round main event Friday evening, March 18, at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.

“I’m beyond excited to be fighting in my first main event in front of my home town fans,” Hart said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Hart, 26, is the son of former Philly middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, whose legendary left hook terrorized the 160-pound division in the 1970s.

The younger Hart, a pro since 2012, is 19-0, 16 K0s. He is ranked No. 3 in the world among 168-pounders by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), No. 8 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and No.10 by the World Boxing Association (WBA).

Hart last boxed in Philadelphia on Dec. 13, 2014, when he knocked out Colombian Samuel Miller in two rounds at the 2300 Arena.

In three subsequent fights in 2015—two in Las Vegas, NV, one in Tucson, AZ--Hart scored knockouts over Mike Jimenez, of Chicago, IL, Aaron Pryor, Jr., of Cincinnati, OH, and Andrik Saralegui, of Tijuana, Mexico. Hart won the vacant NABO super middleweight title by beating Jimenez and he defended it against Pryor.

Johnson, 28, has turned his career around by winning his last four fights, including an eighth-round stoppage of one-time conqueror Mike Gavronski in Gavronski’s Tacoma, WA, backyard last November. He followed that upset with another one in his last fight Jan. 15, when he earned a 10-round decision over Izaak Cardona, of Colorado Springs, CO, also in Tacoma, WA.

“I’m ready and I’m excited,” Johnson said. “We took a different and more difficult route to get here but we’re here now. I hope the 2300 Arena in packed because somebody is going to sleep.”

A pro since 2008, Johnson is 19-18-3, 6 K0s, but his record was compiled against some of the best from 154 to 168: Aaron Martinez, Glen Tapia, Jermell Charlo, Yudell Johnson, Julian Williams, Joshua Clottey, Dominic Wade and Luis Arias. He has boxed 10 men who were undefeated when he fought them and he has only been stopped twice in 41 fights.

The undercard will feature lightweight Victor Vasquez; junior middleweight Ismael “Tito” Garcia; lightweight Jerome Conquest; junior middleweight Fred Jenkins, Jr.; and junior welterweight Scott Kelleher.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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