Today’s middleweight clash between lineal title holder Miguel Cotto 40-4 (33) and challenger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 45-1-1 (32) should be everything that the over-hyped super fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao wasn’t, despite it being at a 155 pound catch-weight.
No, the catch-weight for once shouldn’t be a big deal since neither fighter has ever fought above 155 pounds. Truth be told, Cotto is a legitimate welterweight right now and Alvarez is a full-fledged junior middleweight, but not for much longer.
The anticipation for Cotto-Alvarez has been festering for the past year, and there’s a two, perhaps three-pronged reason for that, starting with the fact that both Miguel and Saul are viewed by the boxing public as being aggressive fighters who look to win exclusively by knockout. It’s doubtful that you’ll find many observers or fans that see the fight being left up to the three judges. So when you look at it that way, on paper it has to be an action packed, fan-friendly tussle.
Another reason why the fight should do well regarding PPV numbers is that you have the biggest Puerto Rican star in boxing, Cotto, 35, confronting the biggest Mexican star in boxing, Alvarez, 25, with a legitimate world title on the line with the winner, at least in the mind of the public, the next man up for boxing’s newest emerging star, the IBO/WBA/IBF middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 34-0 (31).
In boxing, the closest you can get to Yankees-Red Sox, Bears-Packers, Celtics-Lakers, Alabama-Auburn or Duke-North Carolina is Puerto Rico vs. Mexico. So you better believe on November 21, 2015 at the Mandalay Resort in Las Vegas both Cotto and Alvarez will be supported by a monumental contingent of loyal fans.
And then there’s the third dynamic that is no doubt a factor in the fight, and that is how good, although I think it’s more of an illusion, that Cotto has looked under the tutelage of head trainer Freddie Roach the last two years. After losing two bouts in a row, Roach took over training Cotto and now Miguel is riding a three bout win streak and has defeated former middleweight champ Sergio Martinez and title challenger Daniel Geale. Not only did Cotto defeat them, he stopped both of them in catch-weight bouts. However, both Martinez and Geale had to come in under the middleweight limit of 160. Martinez was on his last legs and was down in his three previous bouts before facing Cotto and I believe having to cut an extra pound or two was the straw that broke him. As for Geale, he looked like a skeleton with eyes when he weighed in at 157 the day before the fight. So I for one am not a believer in Cotto being as good as he’s looked in his last two bouts. I think he beat a shopworn Martinez, who was already finished, and a drained Geale who was never elite, not even remotely.
Now there have been some whispers Alvarez has struggled to get down to weight, and if that’s true, everything goes out the window. But, if Alvarez isn’t drained at the weight, he should dismantle Cotto inside the scheduled 12-rounds. And there are a plethora of reasons for that, beginning with Alvarez’s size advantage. Saul is taller, has a longer reach and puts his punches together better. And on the night of the fight he could weigh north of 170 pounds compared to Cotto, who will most likely be 10 pounds lighter when they proceed to touch gloves. Yes, Canelo is the naturally bigger man.
Not only is Alvarez bigger, he’s also the better two handed puncher, as we saw in the beating he administered to the hard punching James Kirkland in his last bout. Canelo hurt and dropped Kirkland with both hands and fought terrifically in retreat when Kirkland was bringing the heat. Austin Trout and Alfonso Gomez fought both and both conveyed to ESPN.com that Alvarez is the harder puncher.
Also, Cotto only has one finishing punch, his left hook to the head or body. The only problem with that is Miguel cannot really get much on it if his feet aren’t set underneath him or if he’s moving back, and I think Canelo is going to make him go back. In fact I don’t even think Cotto will attempt to force Alvarez back because he has to figure Alvarez has the bigger guns and doesn’t want to tempt fate by moving into his power. In addition to having the bigger guns, Alvarez has a more imaginative offense and can hurt Cotto fighting as the attacker or stepping off to the side and countering.
If you’re Cotto, how do you attack Alvarez? If you bring it, you’re engaging with a fighter who has bigger power and on both sides. If Miguel tries to trade with Alvarez he’ll be in trouble. He’ll be in trouble because Canelo not only hits harder but he has the better chin. Cotto has been stopped twice and hurt on more than a few occasions by other elite fighters he’s fought. Alvarez has never been stopped and stood up well and fought back after eating James Kirkland Sunday best hooks, which are harder than anything Cotto has in his arsenal. Should Cotto chose to box Alvarez like he did Martinez until he gets tired, good luck because Canelo still has young legs underneath him and won’t fall all over the place when barely touched like Martinez did.
I also believe Alvarez has to be more hungry and better motivated than Cotto. Miguel has had a hall-of-fame career and has won and lost the signature fights of his career. Beating Alvarez can only enhance Cotto’s legacy but losing to him will not hurt it a bit. Alvarez doesn’t have that luxury. He’s had one signature fight during his career that anyone remembers and that was against Floyd Mayweather two years ago. Against Mayweather, Alvarez barely competed and maybe won one round. The stench of that bout hasn’t left him and it’s still the fight he’s most remembered for. In order to rid that memory he must beat Cotto, and the more decidedly the better.
When taking everything into consideration, I don’t think Cotto has been born again under Freddie Roach. I think it is more a case of brilliant management and being at the right place at the right time. Well, I think time runs out 11/21/15. Canelo has the style and power coupled with youth and the right mindset to send Cotto into retirement for good.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com