Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan: Referee may play big role in outcome (Video)
Does the smaller, presumably faster Amir Khan plan to use aggressive and/ or excessive pushing as a defense tactic against lineal middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on May 7?
The answer may very well shape the outcome as many are curious to see how Amir Khan will cope with Canelo Alvarez's aggression and explosive punching.
Will Khan's footwork and upper body movement prevent Canelo from landing many flush shots?
Will Amir attempt to hold at close quarters?
... Or will he attempt to excessively push his foe 5, 6 or 7 feet back to stunt Alvarez's aggression, rhythm and timing?
Pushing, when done right, can be a very effective means of keep an opponent off balance and burning round time.
In his 2011 razor thin decision loss to Lamont Peterson, Khan, after being warned several times, was deducted a point for excessive pushing in Rounds 7 and 12.
Those two deductions cost Khan the fight.
Although Khan blamed the referee for playing favorites, a fighter cannot hit below the belt, excessively hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push in boxing. A violation of the following rules is considered a foul, and can result in a point deduction or disqualification.
While it's rare to get points taken away for pushing, the action is a violation of the rules. And in defense of the referee who policed that bout, Khan was given two hard warnings prior to the deductions.
So why don't we see more penalties for pushing?
For starters, it's rare a fighter pushes as hard and as often as Khan did against Peterson. Second, and more significantly, it's entirely the referee's discretion to take points away.
Fouls, especially of the less serious variety, are subjective as referees - as individual thinkers - have varying thresholds for certain acts.
Canelo vs Khan
Titles: WBC, RING Magazine
Catchweight: 155 lbs
Date: May 7
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
Location: Las Vegas
Broadcast: HBO PPV
Most referees are tolerant of pushing. Although illegal, it rarely draws a warning. However, as we saw in Khan vs Peterson, some referees will enforce it, and will usually communicate their intentions via warnings early on.
As many learned from that fight, just because referees in Khan's previous bouts may have let Amir get away with it, their actions were in no way a precedent for future officials.
A referee's discretion is similar to that of a policeman. Some cops will issue a ticket for going only 7 mph over the speed limit while others, in the same situation, won't pull you over unless you're going 15 mph over.
The great thing about boxing is that a fighter will usually get warned 1-3 times before points are deducted, as was the case for Khan vs Peterson.
For Canelo vs Khan on May 7, we may see excessive pushing from the latter early on in an attempt to measure the referee's tolerance for that action.
And if the referee has a lenient approach towards pushing, it'll be another obstacle Canelo Alvarez will have to overcome should he win the bout.
Khan vs Peterson highlights (including two pushes) below.