Amir Khan to fight Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in Las Vegas on May 7
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 03/02/16 6:19am
Amir Khan will step up in weight to fight Mexican superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez for the WBC middleweight title in Las Vegas on May 7.
The announcement on Tuesday came as a major surprise and the fight now shapes up as one of the most eagerly-awaited of the boxing year.
Khan, 29, who has not fought since a points victory over Chris Algieri last May, said earlier this year he had a "few options" for his next fight, but no pundits foresaw a catchweight contest at 155lbs with Alvarez.
The Bolton fighter later confirmed to Sky Sports News HQ that the venue for the bout will be the MGM Grand's new 20,000 seat T-Mobile Arena.
Since his loss to Danny Garcia in 2012, Khan (31-3-KO19) has reeled off five straight wins and the resurgent Brit now gets the chance to be crowned a world champion for the third time in his career.
Khan - a former super-lightweight champion who has been fighting at the 147lb welterweight limit since 2014 - will face a massive task against the brilliant 25-year-old Alvarez (46-1-1-KO32), who is one of the hottest properties in the sport.
Alvarez suffered the only defeat of his career when he lost a majority decision to the great Floyd Mayweather in Vegas in 2013.
The Mexican fighter has bounced back with four straight wins, out-pointing Miguel Cotto in November last year to claim the world title.
Khan posted on his Twitter feed: "Delighted to announce I will be fighting @Canelo, May 7th, Cinco De Mayo, Las Vegas, for the 155lbs @WBCBoxing title!"
And he added: "I know Canelo fights the best and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to face me, like others have.
"My goal is to always fight the biggest names and the best fighters and 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."
Canelo said: "As the middleweight champion of the world, I will take on the best fighters in the sport and, on Cinco De Mayo [a Mexican celebration held on May 5] weekend, I look forward to making the first defence of my titles.
"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."
Adam Smith, executive producer of Sky Sports boxing, said: "It's a huge fight and it's come out of the blue but that's boxing, it's so unpredictable.
"We thought it would be [Kell] Brook or Garcia next for Khan, suddenly it has come to this, Saul Alvarez on May 7, Cinco De Mayo weekend. It's amazing.
"There is no doubt Canelo is a superstar in boxing. He's just 25 and he's always in very exciting fights.
"He's a lot bigger naturally than Khan. Remember, Khan was a light-welterweight who has come up from lightweight before moving up to the welterweight division, which is the division that had Mayweather, Kell Brook and [Keith] Thurman. It's a very exciting division.
"Now he is fighting at 155 it's a big risk for Amir Khan, but he obviously believes he has the speed to give Canelo Alvarez trouble. It's a mouth-watering prospect.
"We all thought that Amir Khan and Kell Brook would maybe get it on at Wembley Stadium on June 4. I know both fighters wanted it but they couldn't come to an agreement and meanwhile, behind the scenes, this was being cooked up.
"I mean this is a fabulous fight, it's a huge jump for Amir Khan."