Las Vegas, Nevada – One of the most anticipated fights of the year was bout that would add one more chapter to the great rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico. A fight between young Mexican star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and the rejuvenated veteran, Miguel Cotto was staged at a catch weight of 155lbs. The fight was originally scheduled to be contested for Cotto’s WBC middleweight belt, but days before the fight Miguel Cotto was stripped of the belt after refusing to pay the WBC’s sanctioning fees. While Cotto was stripped, the belt was still on the line for Alvarez.
Miguel Cotto came into the fight on the back of three impressive knockout wins, all under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. Canelo also came in riding a three fight winning streak, having scored one of the most impressive knockouts of the year in May over James Kirkland, and now aimed to capture a title belt once again.
The fight started with both fighters carefully gauging distance and looking to find their rhythms. Miguel Cotto began working his jab and using his footwork in attempts of getting angles on Canelo. It wasn’t until round two that Canelo started to let his hands go, closing the distance on Cotto. Both of the first two rounds proved to be a feeling out process for both fighters, with no significant shots landed by either man.
In round three Canelo began unloading quick combinations and sneaking in the first significant punches of the fight. Cotto remained on his toes and kept landing his jab, but was unable to land his signature power left hook. Canelo was finding a home for his right cross and it was clear that he held a speed advantage over the Puerto Rican star. Occasionally Miguel Cotto would move forward and fire off combinations of his own but Alvarez was able to block or avoid all of the punches.
Cotto stuck to his game plan of using footwork and attempting to outbox Alvarez and while he was not taking a lot of punishment, he was not landing anything of worth that would warrant giving him the rounds. Speed was the biggest factor in the fight, as Canelo could see the punches of Cotto coming and he could sneak in counter shots from time to time.
By round eight the momentum of the fight was shifting to Canelo’s favor, and Miguel Cotto for the first time in the fight decided to engage head on and trade punches with Alvarez. A hellacious exchange took place, with Canelo landing the more telling blows but Cotto finally landing meaningful blows. It was clear that the boxing strategy was not being very successful for Cotto and he would need to take risks in order to turn the fight in his favor.
As the fight went down the stretch, Cotto went back to boxing. Canelo was simply landing the more meaningful punches and stifling the offensive surges of the Puerto Rican fighter. Some rounds were close, but Saul Alvarez just looked to have more power behind his blows and never seemed shaken by the power of Miguel Cotto. In the final round, both fighters exchanged blows once more, this time Canelo managed to hurt Cotto to the body and forced him to get on the defensive. The fight went all twelve round and the judges announced scores of 117-112, 119-109, and 118-110 all in favor of Saul Alvarez.
Canelo Alvarez not only clearly won the bout with Miguel Cotto, but showed himself to be a far improved fighter from the twenty three year old that faced Floyd Mayweather. Canelo boxed well and overpowered a future Hall of Famer in Miguel Cotto, and now has set the stage for a huge unification bout with Gennady Golovkin. Golvokin won the interim WBC Middleweight belt from Marco Antonio Rubio and stands to be elevated to full champion if Alvarez chooses to go in another direction.
The potential bout between Canelo and Golovkin would be very intriguing now that Canelo has improved as a fighter and showed he can fight comfortably at a higher weight. Alvarez would be the younger fighter by eight years and would also be the faster of the two fighters. Power wise, Canelo has shown that his power only carries as high as the level of opposition, as when he has fought anyone near the top of sport, his shots do not have the same effect as with lesser fighters. Golovkin would likely open as a favorite if the bout happens, but with the improvements Alvarez has shown so far, it’s hard to count him out even against a supreme talent like ‘GGG.’
Another option for Alvarez would be allowing himself to be stripped of the WBC belt, and instead challenge for the WBO middlweight belt that Andy Lee holds. If Alvarez is able to get that fight and win it, it would open the door to a even bigger bout in the fall as the demand for Canelo-Golovkin bout would have a chance to grow in anticipation. Much like with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, when a bout has time to develop, it almost always grows in scope.
Whatever direction Canelo Alvarez goes next, he is not short of options, as he has clearly established himself as the biggest star in boxing outside of Mayweather and Pacquiao. He is only twenty five years old and has already had success with PPV and has one of the biggest fan bases in the sport. Alvarez has also improved technically in the ring and has also shown a great chin and a willingness to entertain the boxing fans, so his future is looking as bright as ever, especially after his impressive win this past Saturday night.