As Amir Khan began the long build-up for the first superfight of his career our ambassador for Anglo-Islam relations and his catholic opponent received an olive branch for peace between their two religions.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Mexico’s world middleweight champion, and Khan took delivery of that token from Britain’s former heavyweight champion David Haye.
The first media event of many to follow before the two go to war in the new T Mobile 20,000 seat arena in La Vegas on May 7, took place on the banks of the river Thames.
Once Alvarez has picked up a championship bracelet from WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, the pleasantries were over and they got down to the fighting talk.
The wisdom of Khan moving up from welterweight to middleweight – albeit at a catchweight limit of 155 pounds – has been widely questioned.
But Bolton’s former two-time world champion at lower weight said: ‘They said Sugar Ray Leonard was taking too big a risk doing the same as me when he moved up to fight marvellous Marvin Hagler. Now I’m going to do exactly what Leonard did and shock everyone by winning.
‘I will be the underdog, but when I went to the Athens Olympics as a teenager everyone expected me to get beaten up by the men but I came home with my silver medal.
‘Now they’re asking why I should fight this bigger, very powerful, great middleweight and they think that Canelo is going to beat me up. They’re in for a surprise.’
The legendary Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy promotions, said: ‘This first event in this wonderful new arena in Vegas is between two great fighters. It’s a classic case of Canelo’s power against Khan’s speed.’
With a couple of hundred of Khan’s vociferous supporters in attendance, Alvarez and his team played the diplomatic card.
The champion himself said: ‘This is my first time in London and I thank you all for the support you’re giving to this fight.
‘Khan is a great fighter and this will be a very difficult fight. Your boxer presents a serious threat to my title and I am taking him very seriously. I will give it my all in training and in the ring.’
The show moves on to further media extravaganzas in New York on Tuesday and LA on Thursday.
Alvarez, whose only defeat came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in a 48-fight career, which is extraordinary for a 25-year-old, returns to Mexico to prepare.
Khan, relieved to have finally hit the really big time after being left at the alter by both Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio, will then go on to rejoin his trainer Vergil Hunter in San Francisco.
Source: Daily Mail