LOS ANGELES-Mexico versus Puerto Rico.
That’s all you’ve got to say to open the hype for the coming battle between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in less than three months.
Los Angeles, or to be specific, Hollywood, was the scene for the first stage of the four-city promotion tour for the WBC middleweight title fight between champion Cotto and challenger Alvarez on Nov. 21, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Canelo (45-1-1, 32 Kos) was humble yet confident about his attempt to wrest the middleweight world title from Cotto. The Mexican redhead spoke of his learning curve, the Mexican-Puerto Rican rivalry, nationalism and future fights.
“I feel a lot of honor and pride fighting for my country,” said Alvarez, 25, a native of Guadalajara, Mex. “There have been some great fights between Puerto Ricans and Mexicans.”
Cotto (40-4, 33 Kos) was even more reserved but menacingly confident about the Puerto Rican-Mexican rivalry, not prioritizing fights, GGG, tacos al pastor and trainer Freddy Roach. And making it clear he fights for his family, not for fame.
“I’ just a regular boxer. I’m not a Hall of Famer,” said Cotto, 34, who said his favorite Mexican food was tacos al pastor. “I’m just a regular boxer.”
Yet, since losing to Austin Trout in December 2012, the regular boxer has destroyed three consecutive opponents, including middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez. The Puerto Rican now holds the WBC middleweight title and points toward trainer Freddie Roach for the resurgence in his career.
Roach is curt about his prediction.
“Miguel will knock him out in the late rounds,” said Roach with a wry smile.
Cotto sat below a throng of fans standing on three tiers of balcony. The rowdy fans shouted derisive remarks all through the public portion of the press conference, “Cotto is done,” said one fan right above him. Roach looked at Cotto with a smile and the Puerto Rican smiled back as if it’s all in a day of business.
Other fans shouted “Ca-ne-lo” as promoters spoke about the pending fight. It was not until Golden Boy Promotion’s Oscar De La Hoya said his piece on the microphone that fans quieted down.
“L.A. is a place where the fans know and understand boxing,” said De La Hoya, who also mentioned his fight with Felix Trinidad in September 1999 as one of those epic encounters. Then the former champion from East L.A. took a dig at himself when speaking about the upcoming Puerto Rican-Mexican clash.
“Nobody in this fight is going to run the last three rounds,” said De La Hoya with a playful shrug as fans laughed.
WBC chairman Mauricio Sulaiman said that 104 battles between Mexico and Puerto Rican have taken place in boxing history. Boricuas have won 55 of those battles, Mexicans 47 with a draw and a no contest between them.
“Whenever there is Mexico versus Puerto Rico it’s guaranteed to be explosive,” Sulaiman said.
Cotto said he will begin training full force on Sept. 28, at the Wild Card gym. He has no idea who the sparring partners will be.
Alvarez said he will continue to train in San Diego and prefers the location because it offers him solace from crazy fans and the SoCal coastal climate resembles his native Guadalajara.
The middleweight fight will be fought at a catch weight of 155. It’s something that Cotto says he does not intend to do any more. He also said that Texas was never an option and that New York was seriously considered, but when Las Vegas stepped in their offer was too big to ignore.
Alvarez said he would have loved to fight in Texas and calls it his second home. But he considers Las Vegas the perfect locale and says its neutral ground. He feels confident of his upcoming encounter and said, “Mexico and Puerto Rico have great fights. I want this to be no different. I’m honored to fight a great warrior like Cotto.”
Cotto was blunt and unemotional as ever.
“I’m here not asking for sympathy. On Nov. 21, I’m going to show what Miguel Cotto is made of.”
De La Hoya said that it would be difficult to say that the winner of this fight would fight the winner of Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux.
“What if it ends in a draw or what if it’s a great fight? They can do it again or maybe fight a trilogy,” De La Hoya said. “Cotto-Canelo is two Mack trucks colliding.”
Tickets were allegedly sold out for the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. But the fight will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.