Canelo Alvarez needed only one big right hand to turn a close fight into a smashing knockout.
Struggling with Amir Khan's speed, Alvarez unleashed a long right hand that send Khan backward on the canvas, where referee Kenny Bayless didn't even bother to count him out at 2:37 of the sixth round.
Alvarez retained his piece of the middleweight title, but it was not without some nervous moments for his fans who packed the new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. Khan was more than holding his own in a tactical fight when the right hand suddenly ended it. Alvarez went and kneeled before an unconscious Khan, then went over and motioned to Gennady Golovkin, who was ringside, to join him in the ring for a fight.
"I invited him to come into the ring," Alvarez said. "Right now I will put the gloves on again."
It may not take too long for the fight boxing fans have been waiting for to happen, though the weight could be an issue. Alvarez wants the bout to be less than the 160-pound middleweight limit, while Golovkin, who holds his own piece of the middleweight crown, vows to fight at his best weight.
"I am old school," Golovkin said just before the fight.
"Middleweight is 160. I respect the sport of boxing." Khan, a 6-1 underdog, had vowed to use his speed to confound Alvarez and his plan seemed to be working. He fought in spurts, landing combinations and seemingly frustrating Alvarez with his movement.
But a right hand that came out of nowhere landed flush against Khan's chin, and he was out before he hit the canvas.
"I was getting in the ring with a big guy," Khan said. "Unfortunately I didn't make it to the end."
Alvarez was making the first defense of the WBC title he won from Miguel Cotto in November, though the fight was fought at a catch weight of 155 pounds. The WBC has said it will take the tile from Alvarez if he does not begin talks for a fight with Golovkin within 15 days.
"I don't fear anyone," Alvarez said. "We don't come to play in this sport."
A pro-Alvarez crowd filled the new arena on the Las Vegas Strip for his first fight on the Mexican holiday weekend that Floyd Mayweather Jr. usually fought on. They came expecting to see Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 knockouts) put on a show, though he had trouble with Khan's speed and movement in the early rounds.
Alvarez chased after Khan (31-4) from the first round on, trying to cut the ring off and corner him on the ropes. He was largely unsuccessful, and Khan answered with combinations to the head, though they seemed to have little effect on the red-haired Mexican champion.
Ringside punch stats showed Khan landing 48 of 166 punches to 64 of 170 for Alvarez.
Alvarez was up on two ringside judges' scorecards when the fight ended, while Khan was leading by one point on the third.
"People have known me only for my power," Alvarez said. "I have many more qualities in the ring and I showed that. I think people saw more of me."
After the fight, Canelo admitted he was simply waiting for his chance to come before striking.
"Like I said from the beginning, I knew he was very fast and knew it would be competitive in the beginning. But I knew time would come to my favor, and you saw that," Canelo said.
The Mexican then invited Golovkin into the ring, challenging him to fight next.
"Like I said in Mexico, 'we don't (expletive) around.' We don't come to play in this sport. I fear no one in this sport," Canelo said.
"I'll fight him right now. Let's put the gloves on and get in there with him."
Earlier Sunday David Lemieuxc returned after losing to Golovkin with a Ko win over Glen Tapia.
The fight ended in strange circumstances wit Tapia's corner calling an end after a knock down, much to the dismay and anger of the fighter.