Fight week is officially here and per the usual, multitudes of fans bearing nationalistic fervor will descend upon Las Vegas.
After September’s contest between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Andre Berto was as exciting as watching fresh paint peel and boasted but a tepid turnout of fans, the respective prides of Mexico and Puerto Rico may have their work cut out for them come Saturday.
As of this Monday night, the seemingly anticipated middleweight championship bout between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto still has empty seats, albeit for a minimum of $1,250 per ticket. Of course, it’s always easier to doubt than dig, but there’s no denying that the bonafide and meaningful showdown set to take place at Mandalay Bay is a crossroads of sorts for both fighters.
Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KO’s) is the face of Mexican boxing, at least to some stateside, while many in the land of the TriColor aren’t as affectionate towards him. Much like Oscar De La Hoya in the 1990’s, there was no denying his talent, however Mexican fight fans are among the most ardent in all of sports. Accordingly, many feel that much like “The Golden Boy”, Canelo puts more emphasis on his image and less on the desire to be the best in the business. He deserves credit, however for his gusto shown to quickly rebound from being thoroughly dissected by Floyd Mayweather two years ago in a fight that was rushed into action long before its proper due date.
However and as expected in most walks of life, money talks and in this case, “Money” won…literally. Canelo took the path of razor wire back to prominence with contests against Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo and Erislandy Lara, respectively. It’s anyone’s guess as to if he really and truly needed to pull out of a bout with Joshua Clottey set for last December due to an ankle injury. Nevertheless, his third round demolition of James Kirkland last May allowed many boxing fans to gleefully pass the painful stone which took place one week earlier in Las Vegas.
Miguel Cotto (40-4, 33 KO’s) was unbeaten in thirty three professional bouts until his infamous meeting with Antonio Margarito in the summer of 2008. It wasn’t long after suffering his initial defeat that he called into question the pugilistic integrity of his Tijuana opponent after Margarito was caught either prematurely trying to cast his fist in stone in Canastota or flat out cheating before his January 2009 blowout loss to Shane Mosley.
Ironically, many feel that it was Mosley who pushed Cotto to his finest hour in the ring in late 2007. In any case, Miguel is back and in a different way from when he reemerged with a torso full of tattoos a few years ago. Of course, the detractors will point to certain subtleties since he returned to the ring with Freddie Roach now in his corner. In some eyes, Cotto has faced an overmatched Delvin Rodriguez, a one-legged and washed up Sergio Gabriel Martinez and finally a game slab fresh from the meat locker in the form of Daniel Geale.
So, as we look forward to Saturday’s matchup between Mexico and Puerto Rico (or Los Angeles and New York, depending on who’s counting), does anyone really care that the WBC chose to play hardball by stripping Miguel Angel Cotto of his middleweight title because he didn’t feel the need to pay their exorbitant sanctioning fees? What’s more important, the title or the outcome? Will fans of either side feel the rush of victory for their respective fighter because he won (or kept) a belt or because he crushed the other man en route to a convincing win?
Many feel that the eventual stacking of ticket sales, closed circuit viewing and pay per view won’t add up to that of the bout’s magnitude for a few reasons. For starters, sporting fans around the globe were put to shame after they paid a lot of money to watch a mega fight last May that woefully failed to live up to the hype of its billing.
It was over half a decade in the making, after all. We saw some evidence of this a few weeks ago. The pay TV matchup between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and David Lemieux did not meet expectations in terms of home sales even though the card featured two of the world’s top boxers in Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez, respectively in separate bouts. Secondly, lightning as well as thunder were corralled in the same bottle last Saturday night when Ronda Rousey was unexpectedly knocked out by former boxer Holly Holm. According to many Sin City residents, the buzz expected for this weekend’s bout was almost entirely focused on mixed martial arts and not boxing for much of last week.
Canelo Alvarez is not exactly an overwhelming favorite according to some sportsbooks (a $350 bet on him wins $100 while a $100 bet placed on Cotto returns $290). The odds have fluctuated quite a bit since the fight was announced in August. Chances are the bout lives up to the anticipation and sets up a springtime showdown between the winner and the aforementioned Golovkin.
Rumors have swirled that a matchup of such significance would take place in a much larger locale than the events center at Mandalay Bay, such as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. More than likely, the most expensive ticket to that event won’t cost anywhere near $1,250. It wouldn’t have hurt to set Saturday’s clash in a locale other than one with set ticket prices greater than the monthly income of some folks.
Either way, many are already looking forward to next year. No one really said that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. would not stick to his promise of not coming back to the ring as much as him simply not going away at all. To that end, it’s likely that we’ll see Canelo versus Golovkin next year due to the fact that many feel that Cotto will not bother to take on the Kazakhstani marauder, win or lose. Gennady’s endeared himself to oceans of fans from Mexico, so it’s a win-win.
First things first, though. Who wins on Saturday?