AMIR KHAN flew WBO world super-welterweight champion Liam Smith into his California training base ahead of his meeting with WBC middleweight king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on Saturday night [May 7].
A two-time super-lightweight champion, Khan only recently moved to welter but will fight Canelo at a 155lb catchweight at the newly-built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Smith, who defends his title against an as yet unnamed opponent on June 4, shared around 30 rounds with Khan over a two week period and gave Boxing News an exclusive insight into Amir’s preparations.
“I think he’s where he wants to be. He had his good days and his bad days, which fighters always do in camp, but he finished with a very good spar and that’s what you want,” he told us.
“He got it spot on in the last spar so he’ll be going into fight week very confident. He nailed it down on the last day of sparring, he was very good.”
Smith sparred Khan prior to Amir’s 2013 win over Julio Diaz, for which he weighed in at 142lbs, and Liam noticed the obvious difference in size.
“He’s big, people will be surprised by how big he is. He looks in good shape, his body’s in good shape and his arms. He’ll be ready,” he said.
“I was very impressed with him size-wise as soon as I met him, we met in a restaurant when I went over and he looked in great shape then. He’s put the muscle on well.
“I watched what he was eating and I don’t think he’s had any problem putting on the weight, I think it’s for the better for him. He’ll have power as well, I know people are saying Canelo’s the power puncher but he’ll have his own power in there. He’s got as good a chance as any to win, but it’s a tough ask.
“He still has the speed, he’s maybe not as fast as he was as at light-welter but he’s still very fast. Canelo’s got speed but I’d still say Khan’s got the advantage in that department.”
Khan, a heavy underdog entering the contest, has frequently spoken about the importance of the game plan he and trainer Virgil Hunter have conucted to hand Canelo his second professional defeat, after Floyd Mayweather outpointed him in 2013.
By no means a big puncher, it seems clear that Khan’s best chance of victory is to box on the move. Smith was a fascinated observor while in the Khan camp, and was impressed by what he saw in terms of tactical planning – though was quick to point out that plans can quickly go out the window in boxing.
“Their tactics will be spot on, the tactics that he and Virgil have come up with are very good and I was listening while they were on the pads and things and thinking, ‘yeah, that’ll work’,” he revealed.
“That’s not to say it’s going to work, this is boxing and if it was that easy to just follow a gameplan and win, boxing wouldn’t be boxing.
“I’m sure if I sat in on Canelo’s training I’d be agreeing with their tactics as well.”