AMIR Khan will return to action against Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas on May 7.
Khan, who has not fought since a points victory over Chris Algieri last May, said last month he had a «few options» for his next fight, but no one expected him to arrange a catchweight contest at 155lbs with WBC middleweight champion Alvarez.
But Khan posted on his official Twitter account yesterday: «Delighted to announce i will be fighting @Canelo May 7th Cinco De Mayo, Las Vegas for the 155lbs @WBCBoxing title!»
Andre Berto, Brandon Rios and Jo Jo Dan had all been tipped as possible warm-up opponents for Khan ahead of a summer showdown with Danny Garcia or Kell Brook, the respective WBC and IBF welterweight champions.
Khan is Garcia’s mandatory challenger and the WBC had ordered the American – who had a fourth-round knockout victory over the Bolton fighter in July 2012 – to face him by June or lose his belt.
But Khan’s camp were also said to be interested in a lucrative Battle of Britain showdown with Brook and negotiations with Eddie Hearn’s promotions company Matchroom Boxing had reportedly taken place.
Brook has coveted a fight with Khan since becoming world champion by beating Shawn Porter in August 2014, and there had been hopes the pair would finally square off at Wembley in June.
However, Khan has stunned the boxing world by agreeing to fight ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the 25-year-old WBC middleweight champion whose only loss in 48 fights was a majority points defeat to the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The Mexican’s last fight saw him enjoy a unanimous points victory over Miguel Cotto in November and many regard him as the next superstar of boxing when Mayweather decides to hang up his gloves.
Alvarez carries a big punching reputation and has won 46 of his 48 fights – he had a draw against Jorge Juarez in only his fifth contest – by way of 32 knockouts.
Oscar De La Hoya, of Golden Boy Promotions, posted on his official Twitter account: «Proud to announce on May 7th, 2016 @canelo will return to the ring to face @amirkingkhan.»
Shah Khan, the boxer’s father and manager, said his son was relishing the challenge of taking on Alvarez and insisted stepping up to 155lbs from the welterweight mark of 147lbs would not present an issue.
«Amir is at a level now where he’s mixing with the big guys and big names, he’s up for this fight and he deserves it,» Shah Khan told Sky Sports.
«When he was younger and went to the Olympic Games people said: ‘He can’t do this, he can’t handle these fights’.
«But look what he did at the Olympics (Khan won a silver medal as a 17-year-old) and he’s done exactly the same as a professional.
«It’s eight pounds difference in his weight but Amir is a big guy as well.
«Amir’s got a good reach, he’s got a good physique and he’s made for that sort of weight.
«He will build up his weight well and Virgil (Hunter, Khan’s trainer) will put muscle on him and build him the right way.»
Khan senior insisted the big domestic fight with Brook could happen at a later date after negotiations between the two camps broke down.
«The fight’s always there, it can happen,» Khan said.
«We were in negotiations with them and Eddie gave Amir some numbers, but he just couldn’t deliver them.»