Saturday night's WBC middleweight title clash between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Miguel "Junito" Cotto should be competitive early on. However, in the latter rounds, Canelo's youth (25 to 35) and reach (5'9" with 70.5" to 5'7" with 67" reach) should allow him to take a clear unanimous decision from Cotto.
The title will only be on the line for Canelo. When the fight was signed, Cotto was the reigning WBC champ, but he has since been stripped because of his refusal to pay the sanctioning fees of $1.1 million, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.
When: Saturday, November 21 at 9 p.m.
Where: Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
Odds: Canelo (-200), per OddsShark.com
There are several odd circumstances surrounding this fight. The late stripping of Cotto's title is just one of them. The winner will be viewed as one of the best middleweights in the world, despite the fact that neither has ever competed at the 160-pound weight limit for the division.
Alvarez has never weighed more than 155 pounds for a fight, nor has he faced an opponent who weighed in excess of that weight. Similarly, Cotto has never been above 155, and the heaviest an opponent has weighed in against him is the 157 pounds Daniel Geale struggled to make in Cotto's first and only defense of the WBC title.
Saturday's fight will be contested at a 155-pound catchweight. Such is the way of the world of boxing.
The winner of the bout would seemingly be on a collision course for a huge unification bout with interim WBC champion and recognized WBA and IBF titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Most recognize Golovkin as the true king of the weight class.
He has competed in the weight class his entire professional career, spanning nine years, and he's held some aspect of the middleweight world title since December 2010.
Should Canelo win, it stands to reason that he and Golovkin would wage in-ring war at some point in 2016. Golovkin is the mandatory challenger for the WBC champion. In fact, he was supposed to be paid step-aside money so that Canelo and Cotto could fight on Saturday, per Pugmire.
Unfortunately for him, his payment was part of the $1.1 million Cotto refused to pay. Per Pugmire, Cotto made this defiant statement about the sanctioning fees:
"I don’t need a belt to fight Canelo. I keep $1.1 million in my banking account, that’s better for me."
A Canelo-Golovkin battle would be a huge pay-per-view bonanza, assuming Canelo beats Cotto convincingly.
If Cotto wins on Saturday, things could get really complicated. The WBC title could remain vacant, Golovkin could have the interim removed from his status or he could face Canelo or another of the fighters highly ranked by the WBC, such as Jorge Sebastian Heiland or Chris Eubank Jr.
Most would agree, that's not the most compelling scenario. We'll have to wait until Sunday morning to make heads or tails of that scenario, should Cotto win. For now, the boxing community should prepare themselves to witness the first huge fight in the post-Floyd Mayweather Jr. era.