Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez will produce the fight of the year. These aren’t boxers who train for six weeks only to run around a ring for twelve rounds. They carry the intent to let their hands go once the bell dings. They carry the intent to wage war on each other. It won’t be a matter of who is ahead on points at the end of the fight. It will be who is merely standing.
Each fighter is known for never backing down from a tough opponent. They don’t take easy fights. Look at their losses and the best of the best, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., are the only people able to stop them within the laws of a boxing ring.
This fight brings together two furiously passionate boxing countries, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Cotto, the 35 year old four time champion who calls the PR powered New York his stomping ground, is fighting to stay in the big fight business. Alvarez, 25, the Mexican pale white red headed superstar, is looking to retire the older fighter and take ownership of his now vacant(Cotto forfeited it this week due to not paying a sanctioning fee) WBC title belt. This isn’t just about belts, blood and battles. This is about legacy.
Since he rediscovered his lost touch in the ring with trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto has been a different boxer, going 3-0 with two stoppages and a knockout. A man possessed in the ring, sending Sergio Martinez to his retirement party early. Canelo is fresh off bashing brawler James Kirkland in Houston, surprising many by vanquishing him in the third round with ease. In a fight that many saw as a fist willed test, Canelo produced his most impressive result to date by knocking Kirkland out cold.
Canelo has superstar written all over him. He carries a record of 45-1-1, with 32 knockouts supporting that win total. The only loss coming to Mayweather Jr. two years ago. Cotto, 40-4 with 33 knockouts, is coming off an impressive win over Daniel Geale in June. He is 3-0 with Roach and looking to extend his career with a win over Canelo.
Why is this fight going to be sensational? Styles make fights and this is a perfect matchup of two sluggers. Cotto and Alvarez can box and move their head enough to extend a fight, but they aren’t known for taking steps backwards in a ring. They move forward, hunt, peck, and work until the opponent is surrounded. They unleash vigorous combinations that don’t just get their opponents attention. They stun the nervous system. They are each known for their vicious hooks and the ability to crash the body with assault. They aren’t street brawlers, but far from defensive strategists. Most boxers devise a game plan that keeps them safe in the ring while securing victory. These two guys have no such plans. They will go out on their sword before fighting a conservative match.
Do yourself a favor and don’t worry about the belt drama. Miguel Cotto didn’t want to pay a ridiculous fee to have the WBC sanction his belt in the fight, so he gave it up. They want him to also pay an 800K step aside fee to Gennady Golovkin. If Canelo wins, he gets the belt. If Cotto wins, the belt goes to Golovkin, the opponent for the winner of this fight. It’s all a murky mess, outside the ring boxing politics that shouldn’t concern fight fans. It doesn’t affect the average boxing fan who has what belt going into the ring Saturday night.
Know this. This is going to be the fight of the year. All other fights will pale in comparison. It’s not one sided or easy to call. It won’t be boring. Will Canelo use his newfound boxing expertise to keep distance between him and Cotto for him to land his big shots? Can Cotto use his veteran skill to break into the areas of the ring where Canelo feels are his? Who lands the big shots? Who gets hurt first? While Canelo is a favorite to win in the Vegas books, the outcome is not so easy to determine due to the skill set of these two true boxers. One could think Canelo, ten years younger, is simply too much for Cotto, who is prone to wearing down late in a fight. The other may think Canelo isn’t seasoned enough to take down a never better Cotto.
Between these two fighters, there are 65 knockouts. Only five losses, all to championship level fighters. Each fighter has a chip on their shoulder. Something to prove. This could be Cotto’s last big title fight. A chance to stay in the spotlight. This is Canelo’s opportunity to seize the moment and finally equal the hype that has surrounded him his entire career. Outside the ring, two countries known for facing off against each other over the brutal sport of boxing, will look on in amazement at their best products take aim at each other in the ring.
This is an exciting fight. Go watch it. Watch it with boxing lovers. Admirers of the sweet science and people who miss the good old days. A time where two men met in a ring to fight and left the politics to the suits outside of it. They don’t make them like Cotto and Canelo anymore and you won’t see many fights like this one. These are the fights many promoters stay away from because of the unpredictability of it all.
Tonight in Las Vegas, two warriors meet in the ring. Only one can make it out. One will win. One will lose. If a draw occurs, the ring will need scrubbing. Saturday night will be a good night for boxing.