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Thu Nov 19, 2015, 10:25 AM

Cotto vs Alvarez

November 21, 2015 (Las Vegas): Miguel Cotto vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez; world middleweight championship.

In one of 2015’s most anticipated fights, Miguel Cotto will defend his middleweight title against Canelo Alvarez. This is another chapter in one of boxing’s greatest rivalries -- Puerto Rico versus Mexico. More, it is for the actual middleweight championship ….the same title that some of the sport’s all-time greats have held. This is the title that Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, and Bernard Hopkins held, rather than one of the numerous “paper titles” that are too common today.

However, due to the utter stupidity of the WBC -- which means that money is at play here -- Cotto has been “stripped” of his title. The WBC says that Cotto refuses to follow their rules -- but fail to report his only “refusal” was to pay them $300,000 to sanction the fight. To make things sillier, If Canelo wins, the WBC will recognize him as champion, which is correct; if Cotto wins, their title remains vacant. For the boxing community, of course, the title is won and lost in the ring: if Cotto wins, he is by definition still the middleweight champion of the world.

This fight -- second only to the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bout in terms of promotional value -- could easily become the “fight of the year.” It pits two of the sports’ finest boxer-punchers, at different stages of their careers. Both are coming off solid, three-fight win streaks. And a good case can be made for either man winning.

An interesting factor is that both warriors normally compete in the junior middleweight division. Thus, if the winner agrees to defend against Gennady Golovkin -- the power-punching sensation that many consider not only the best middleweight today, but possibly the “pound-for-pound” best, since Mayweather’s retirement -- it would probably be at a “catch weight.” Canelo’s team has already said they would demand a “catch weight,” and it is possible that Cotto would make a similar demand.

Indeed, this fight is at a catch-weight of 155 pounds. That is close to the weight in which Cotto has entered the ring in recent bouts. Canelo, however, uses the 36 hours between the weight-in and bout to re-hydrate, and is expected to enter at about 175 pounds (as he did versus Mayweather). While well-intentioned, the practice of early weigh-ins has not resulted in either fairer or safer bouts. Catch-weights have not proven beneficial, either.

Canelo, at 25, stands 5’ 9” tall, and has a 70” reach. His record is 45-1-1, since turning professional in 2005. Like many Mexicans who turn pro at such a young age, he fought relatively “safe” bouts, with none of his first twelve opponents having winning records. However, because of his obvious talent, he wasn’t competing in “soft” bouts, and within two years, he was beginning to make a real name for himself. He was beating soon defeating the best Mexican opposition around his size.

In 2010, he began fighting outside of Mexico more frequently, and competing against some third- and second-tier fighters. He devastated former champion Carlos Baldomir in six rounds, becoming the first to KO the former champion. Yet, in bouts against brothers of champions -- Jose Miguel Cotto and Matthew Hatton -- he struggled to win. Indeed, Cotto rocked Canelo during their fight, in what remains the most Canelo has been hurt to date.

Shortly after the Hatton bout, Alvarez would put together six impressive victories against former and current champions. Among his victims were Shane Mosley and Austin Trout. In doing so, he increased his fan-base far beyond Mexico and the south-western United States. He was good enough that many believed he posed the biggest risk to Floyd Mayweather’s undefeated record.

In September of 2013, Floyd put on one of his greatest displays of talent, and clearly out-boxed Alvarez. The question became, would Canelo come back stronger from a loss, as all-time great champions do, or would it mentally destroy him? In his three fights since, it appears that the young lion has improved his skill-set. He has won impressive knockouts over two of the division’s top sluggers, Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland, and won a close decision over one of the best Cuban fighters of this era, Erislandy Lara.

Cotto, 35, stands 5’ 7” tall, with a 67” reach. He turned pro in 2001, after an impressive amateur career, and has a 40-4 record. While he has fewer pro fights than the decade younger Alvarez, he is the more experienced fighter. This includes Cotto‘s competing in far more top-level bouts against the very top fighters. If that is a bonus on Saturday remains to be seen.

Three of Cotto‘s loses were very different from Canelo‘s loss. He was brutally knocked out by Antonio Margarito in 11 rounds in 2008; (He would reverse this, in brutal fashion, in 2011, when Margarito did not have the advantage of “loaded“ gloves.) In 2009, Manny Pacquiao stopped him in 11 rounds; Cotto had agreed to a catch-weight, and it appeared to cost him in endurance. In both of these bouts, he absorbed significant punishment. His May 2012 decision loss to Floyd Mayweather was also a battle. His decision loss to Austin Trout later in 2012 was more of being out-boxed, rather than taking a lot of physical punishment.

Also important is the punishment that he has taken during some of his most outstanding victories. He is at his best as a boxer-puncher, and slowly but surely wears his opponents down, before possibly stopping them. But there have been times when he has been promoted as a relentless slugger, and although he has been capable of that, he has taken more punches. The skin around his eyes have paid the price for that. Under trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto has gone back to fighting his own fight in the ring.

How will the fight go? There are several ways that it could play out. If we remove potential “spoiler” factors -- an incompetent referee, a cut from a questionable foul, etc -- it is difficult to predict if Canelo’s size and youth will outweigh Cotto’s experience and higher skill-set. Cotto has to hit and move, always creating angles. He needs to make Alvarez miss, especially when the young lion begins to throw combinations. Cotto’s left hook to the body is a damaging punch; he needs to land it, without making a set pattern “Ring geography” is huge: Cotto needs to make use of the full ring; this includes not only making Canelo move more than he likes to, but if the fight goes into the second half, not allowing Canelo to catch his breath in lulls in the action.

Canelo needs to cut the ring off. Sounds obvious, right? Yet this is more than foot movement: to cut off the ring, a fighter must have a double-jab. More, against an opponent as capable as Miguel Cotto, that includes touching him with the first jab -- thus, throwing it towards his chest, to either make him off-balance or stationary. Everything else comes off that jab.

With the jab, Canelo can dictate the ring geography, and the pace of the fight. That jab disrupts Cotto’s ability to move closer at angles, and get his faster punches off. By frustrating Cotto’s rhythm, Alvarez is able to set traps: he needs Cotto to stand in front of him. That allows Canelo to throw his powerful combinations -- some going from body-to-head, others from head-to-body. Never setting a pattern. Not being concerned with Cotto’s ability to block shots early.

Just as Canelo has tired in later rounds in some bouts, so has Cotto. It always depends upon who is forced to fight outside of their comfort level. Nothing takes a fighter out of their comfort level -- both immediately, and long-term -- than absorbing body punches. The damage to one’s organs makes it almost impossible to maintain the level of consciousness that fighters must have -- popularly called a “zone” in other sports -- and begins to insert thoughts about “what round is this?”, and “how much energy do I have left?”

Who wins? I’ll be looking for who is able to establish their jab consistently over the first four rounds. But, even then, things can change as instantly as a single exchange between these two outstanding warriors. Enjoy this fight -- it may well be not only the best of 2015, but among the very best of this era.

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Reply Cotto vs Alvarez (Original post)
H2O Man Nov 2015 OP
twogunsid Nov 2015 #1
H2O Man Nov 2015 #2
twogunsid Nov 2015 #3
H2O Man Nov 2015 #4

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 01:29 PM

1. Pretty good fight...

I was rooting for Canelo so I might be biased.

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Response to twogunsid (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 03:47 PM

2. Agreed.

The judges' scores might have been off a bit, but the correct man had his hand raised at the end.

I think the difference in size played a large role, especially in the second half of the fight.

What do you think about the potential Canelo vs GGG bout?

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 03:58 PM

3. I think he gives Cotto a rematch first...

But i am down for a GGG vs Canelo fight!

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Response to twogunsid (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 04:08 PM

4. There was a

rematch clause in the contract, so you might be right. But I thought it was encouraging that Canelo made it clear that he is willing to fight GGG next. It's good to have guys like Canelo -- and Cotto -- who are willing to fight anyone and everyone.

I like all three of these fighters -- Canelo, Cotto, and GGG. And, as impressive as Miguel's career has been, last night marked a changing of the guard, so to speak.

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