Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez: Everything You Need to Know for Upcoming Fight

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2015

Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez: Everything You Need to Know for Upcoming Fight

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    They won't be in suits on Saturday night.
    They won't be in suits on Saturday night.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s second superfight of the year, should provide a much-needed remembrance of what a big fight should actually be on Saturday.

    Cotto and Canelo appear evenly matched heading into the fight. While Cotto is 10 years older than his opponent, both fighters have looked excellent in recent outings. Cotto, the first and only Puerto Rican to win world titles in four different weight classes, is the reigning middleweight champion of the world. Canelo, a former unified junior middleweight champion from Mexico, is in the prime years of his superstar career.

    Cotto vs. Canelo is the most anticipated Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry fight since the first Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito fight way back in 2008. There was a tremendous buzz around that fight and for good reason. This one seems even bigger. 

    Will it live up to the hype?

Miguel “Junito” Cotto

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    Cotto has been a beast at middleweight.
    Cotto has been a beast at middleweight.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Age: 35

    Height: 5'7"

    Weight: 157

    Reach: 67 inches

    Stance: Orthodox

    Record: 40-4 (33 KOs)

    Rounds Fought: 309

    Trainer: Freddie Roach

    Cotto is one of the most celebrated and successful fighters in Puerto Rican boxing history. He is an icon on the island nation alongside other legends such as Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad.

    The 35-year-old began his professional career in 2001 in the junior welterweight division. He was a wrecking ball at the weight, most notably rearranging a brave but overmatched Paulie Malignaggi’s face during a 2006 defense of his WBO title.

    Cotto soon moved up to welterweight to capture the vacant WBA title, which he defended against the likes of Shane Mosley and Zab Judah before losing his first fight as a professional against Antonio Margarito in 2008.

    From 2009 to 2012, Cotto struggled, albeit against a high level of competition. Manny Pacquiao obliterated him at 145 pounds in 2009. In 2012, he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and 154-pounder Austin Trout. However, Cotto also avenged his loss to Margarito with a one-sided beatdown of the Mexican in 2011.

    Cotto’s resurgence has surprisingly come at middleweight. He dominated longtime 160-pound champion Sergio Martinez in 2014 and stopped former titleholder Daniel Geale earlier this year in four one-sided rounds in his only defense.

    Cotto is a skilled boxer who throws devastating power punches. He’s particularly known for a lethal left hook to the body. He's an elite boxer who fights in an entertaining style. 

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez

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    Canelo destroyed Kirkland in May.
    Canelo destroyed Kirkland in May.Bob Levey/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 155

    Reach: 70 inches

    Stance: Orthodox

    Record: 45-1-1 (32 KOs)

    Rounds Fought: 314

    Trainer: Jose “Chepo” Reynoso

    Alvarez is the face of Mexican boxing today. He’s an international superstar and a celebrated idol in his home country. While Alvarez does not yet possess the kinds of wins that would help him rank alongside other Mexican boxing legends, he has at least to this point shown a willingness to fight anyone.

    Affectionately known as Canelo because of his red hair (Canelo means cinnamon in Spanish), Alvarez began his fighting career 10 years ago in Mexico. He was only 15 years old at the time. The youngster knocked out 11 of his first 13 opponents, all of whom were older than him and full-fledged adults.

    While he started his career as a junior welterweight, it should be noted that the 15-year-old Alvarez was not yet fully grown at the time. Within a year, he was competing at welterweight, and by 2010 he had advanced to junior middleweight. That same year, Alvarez defeated Cotto’s brother, Jose Miguel, by Round 9 knockout. That probably doesn't sit well with Miguel. 

    Alvarez’s best early wins during that time period were against former lineal welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir and tough contender Alfonso Gomez. And from 2012 to the present, he has enjoyed the most remarkable part of his career to date.

    Facing Mayweather at the tender age of 23 was too much for Alvarez, but he managed to pick up wins against an aging Shane Mosley, tricky southpaw Austin Trout and even trickier southpaw Erislandy Lara during the same stretch. In his last fight, a Round 3 knockout win over James Kirkland, Alvarez appeared a complete and dominant fighter, at least offensively.

    Alvarez is a brilliant combination puncher with fast and powerful hands.  He excels when he throws more than one or two punches at a time, something that is easier to do against come-forward types rather than cute boxers. No one has as many fans in boxing right now than Alvarez. 

What’s at Stake

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    Cotto is the fighting pride of Puerto Rico.
    Cotto is the fighting pride of Puerto Rico.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Cotto is the lineal middleweight champion, per the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and Ring Magazine. He also held the WBC title until the WBC stripped him this week for not agreeing to comply with the sanctioning body’s demands (h/t BoxingNewsOnline.net).

    No matter. The winner of the fight will be recognized as the true middleweight champion of the world.

    But as with any great superfight, much more is on the line for each fighter heading into Saturday night. A win by Cotto would bolster his resume as one of the era’s greatest boxing champions. It would also give him leverage in potential fights down the line with unified champion Gennady Golovkin or even Floyd Mayweather should the latter come out of retirement for one more huge payday.

    For Alvarez, a win over Cotto would be life-altering. By beating Cotto, Alvarez would prove he is as good as his handlers hoped he would be, and it would solidify his claim to being Mexico’s favorite fighter. Moreover, Alvarez would also pick up the WBC title in addition to the lineal championship to make him a world titleholder in two different weight classes. 

    Then, of course, there is the great boxing rivalry that is Mexico vs. Puerto Rico. Whatever stakes the men have on the line as individuals pales in comparison to the hopes and expectations that hordes of fight fans brimming with nationalistic pride have placed upon their shoulders this week.

    The winner on Saturday will be the one who can best carry that weight.

Undercard Information

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    Rigondeaux is finally returning to the ring.
    Rigondeaux is finally returning to the ring.Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Cotto-Canelo pay-per-view undercard features one elite level fighter and several solid world champions and contenders. While some of the matchups leave much to be desired, it’s a decent undercard as far as PPVs go.

    Takashi Miura vs. Francisco Vargas

    This is a solid scrap between two gutsy junior lightweights, and the winner of the bout will have several interesting future options at hand. Junior lightweight is a solid division featuring Takashi Uchiyama, Orlando Salido and Roman Martinez. The bout is scheduled for 12 rounds for Miura’s WBC title.

    Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Drian Francisco

    At long last, Rigondeaux, perhaps the best boxer in the world, returns to action. He hasn’t fought since December 2014. While Rigo was recently stripped of his WBO and WBA junior featherweight titles, he remains the lineal champion, per the TBRB and Ring Magazine. Francisco is a virtual no-hoper who should be easy work for the Cuban southpaw. The bout is scheduled for 10 rounds but shouldn't last nearly that long. 

    Jayson Velez vs. Ronny Rios

    In a 10-round featherweight bout, undefeated contender Velez will battle once-beaten Rios in a fight that should be violent and entertaining. On the surface, this looks like a mild step up for Velez as he graduates from fighting also-rans to proven contenders.

    Randy Caballero vs. Lee Haskins (digital platforms only)

    Caballero vs. Haskins is one of the better fights on the card yet is relegated to only being available online before the PPV begins. It’s a head-scratching move. Caballero is defending his IBF bantamweight title and is a fun, aggressive fighter who might be the real deal. Haskins is a solid contender who should test the youngster.

Odds and Where to Watch

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    Alvarez will enter the ring the favorite should current odds hold true.
    Alvarez will enter the ring the favorite should current odds hold true.Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds, per Odds Shark as of November 17

    • Alvarez (-290)
    • Cotto (+260)

    Where to Watch

    Date: Saturday, November 21

    Venue: Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

    Tickets: $150-$2,000 from various ticket sites

    Television: HBO PPV for $59 (standard definition) or $69 (high definition) beginning at 9 p.m. ET; also available at closed circuit venues and select movie theaters

Face Off with Max Kellerman

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    As with other big fights, HBO has produced a slew of pre-fight content for fans to enjoy before purchasing the PPV. Above is Cotto and Alvarez meeting face-to-face with Max Kellerman to discuss the fight. While the videos HBO produces are most certainly promotional materials intended to garner more PPV buys, it is interesting to see the fighters meet in person to discuss the showdown before the fight. 

Cotto's Last Fight

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    Don't believe Cotto has looked better than ever as of late? See it for yourself. 

    Cotto didn't just defeat Geale as many thought he'd do. He annihilated him. The fight wasn't even close, and while Geale isn't a world-beater, he is a ranked middleweight contender and legitimate former titleholder.

    If you though Cotto's shellacking of Sergio Martinez last year was a farce, the destruction of Geale should dissuade you from that viewpoint. The caveat, of course, is that in each of those fights, the contest was fought at a catchweight instead of the full 160-pound middleweight limit. Were both Geale and Martinez sapped on fight night because of it?

    Maybe. But Cotto also might simply this good right now. 

    Cotto-Canelo is also a catchweight bout, but it should be a non-issue as Alvarez is moving up from junior middleweight, and Cotto is not a natural middleweight.

Canelo's Last Fight

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    As great as Cotto has looked in his prior two fights, Alvarez looked even better against James Kirkland in May.

    The bout unfolded at a torrid pace. The relentless Kirkland went right at Alvarez and landed some huge shots early in Round 1. But by the end of the first, Alvarez had taken control of the fight by landing thunderous punches.

    Alvarez provided maybe the finest knockout of the year to date in Round 3, handing Kirkland just his second loss as a professional. 

    So has Alvarez consistently gotten better in each fight since Mayweather soundly outboxed him in 2013?

    Or are slugging fighters such as Kirkland, who inexplicably went into the bout without longtime trainer Ann Wolfe, simply made-to-order for Canelo's combination-punching attack?


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    Who do you like on Saturday?
    Who do you like on Saturday?Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

    This fight is gonna be awesome. How's that for a prediction?

    (Yes, that's a cop-out, but let me finish.) 

    Look, there are two things I abhor doing. First, I don't like to score fights. Second, I don't like to make predictions. 

    The reasons for both are the same. I'm not great at either one, and I'm not trained for it either. 

    Inevitably, though, I am asked to do these things from time to time. Such is the case here, where I am to predict the winner of Cotto vs. Canelo.

    As soon as this fight was announced, I was certain Alvarez would win. He's younger, naturally larger and highly skilled. But the two most overrated aspects of a fighter heading into a big fight are size and age.

    Think about it this way: Alvarez was also younger and naturally larger than Mayweather in 2013. It didn't matter.

    Still, I can't help but think Alvarez will get the job done. Cotto has been a great fighter over the course of his career, but he's no Mayweather. Alvarez should be able to land punches on him.

    All that being said, every time I'm unsure about a prediction, I ask world-renowned trainer Ronnie Shields who he thinks will win the fight. And every time I've gone against what he told me, I've been wrong.

    Shields told me firsthand that Cotto will win Saturday.  

    So despite all the reasons I lay out above, my official prediction is Cotto by decision. He'll make Alvarez chase him and will counter the aggression effectively. He won't land as many punches as Mayweather did in 2013, but his will be sharper and cause much more damage.

    Regardless, the fight will be awesome.