Friday November 20th, 2015

LAS VEGAS — Welcome inside the Mandalay Bay, blog readers, for the highly anticipated—and that ain’t hyperbole—middleweight showdown between Miguel Cotto and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Boxing has been plagued by some bad pay per views lately. Floyd Mayweather’s dull decision over Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather’s lopsided defeat of Andre Berto. Even Gennady Golovkin’s win over David Lemieux—which promised action, and delivered—was won comfortably by Golovkin, a huge favorite. 

Cotto-Canelo is expected to be different. To most, it’s a 50–50 fight. Cotto is 35 and years past his prime. But he has looked great in his last three fights, all under the guide of Freddie Roach, and if he’s slipped, it’s not by much. Canelo is 25 and gives up years of experience. But he’s a rapidly improving fighter whose lone loss came to Mayweather, the best fighter on the planet. 

Boil it down: This fight will be a good one. 

A few thoughts before we begin...

  • Promotion for this fight has been sloppy. For starters, it has no business being in Las Vegas. Cotto is wildly popular in New York. Canelo draws 40,000 fans when he fights in Texas. Madison Square Garden or Cowboys Stadium would be ideal venues. But Roc Nation, the lead promoter, could not convince either fighter to travel to his opponents turf. So not only are we in Las Vegas, but we are in the smallish, 11,500 (give or take) seat Event Center at Mandalay Bay. The MGM Grand—which could house in the neighborhood of 17,000—was already booked for Nitro Circus Live. Yes, Nitro Circus Live.

The fighters have been largely useless, too. Alvarez isn’t much of a talker, and the language barrier doesn’t help. Cotto has never been big on promoting his fights, and this one has been no different. The job of pumping up the event has been left to Roach, who has done his best (“Canelo’s defense is terrible.”) but there is only so much a trainer can do. 

It’s important to note, because Roc Nation has a huge amount of money invested in this fight. Cotto is guaranteed at least $15 million; Guillermo Rigondeaux, last seen getting run off TV by HBO and dropped by Top Rank, just signed a reported four-fight, $10 million contract with Roc Nation. HBO executives have expressed confidence this fight will do well, but anything short of one million buys has to be a financial loss. 

  • Speaking of Rigondeaux, it’s been just under a year since his last fight. I can confirm: He is still unwatchable.
  • A story during fight week was the borderline extortion of Miguel Cotto by the WBC, which required him to pay $800,000 to mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin in step-aside money and then came back and demanded a $300,000 sanctioning fee from Cotto for the right to defend his title. That’s $1.1 million just to step in the ring as the WBC champ. I’ll have more on this on Monday, but the word that best describes this situation: Disgusting


Scores are in: 117–111, 118–110, 119–109. All for the winner...Canelo Alvarez. scored the fight 115–113 for Canelo. 

ROUND 12: Canelo blasting away to start the 12th. Cotto trying to trade with him, but Canelo winning the exchange. Hard right by Canelo. A left by Cotto. Another left from Cotto. Two jabs. Cotto having problems with that left eye. Hard right by Canelo. Left by Cotto. Canelo stalking. Good left by Cotto. Canelo stares him down. Canelo acting like he won this. Cotto evades a Canelo flurry. Good jabs from Cotto. Tough, tough final round. Give it to Canelo. 10–9, Canelo.

ROUND 11: Cotto digs to the body again. Cotto fighting basically on guile. Canelo stalks. Good right by Canelo, but Cotto keeps responding with a shot of his own. Canelo is loading up, looking for the big shot. He isn’t finding it. Canelo wings a few more power shots, none connect clean. I give the 11th to Cotto—but it was close. 10-9, Cotto.

ROUND 10: Cotto lands a couple of good combinations to start the round. He’s done a nice job of keeping that chin tucked, not exposing it. Low blow from Canelo. Referee warns him. No delays. Canelo keeps looking for a big shot. That could cost him. Cotto still active with the jab. Good body shot by Canelo. Hard right hand by Cotto. That’s going to help him with this round. Canelo lands a shot to the back of Cotto’s head. Cotto smiles, shakes it off. Give it to Cotto. 10–9, Cotto.

ROUND 9: Cotto doesn’t look tired. Great spring still in his step. Cotto digs to the body. He’s trying to fight more on the inside. Canelo lands a thudding right. He thinks he hurt Cotto, follows up, Cotto escapes. Cotto responds with a nice right. Good short left by Canelo. He looks completely under control. This round is going to be tough. Give it to Cotto: He stayed busy, avoided all but one or two of Canelo’s hard shots. 10–9 Cotto.

ROUND 8: Here they come. I don’t know what Freddie Roach said to Cotto but he is firing away! Canelo responds with a vicious combination. Cotto stands his ground. Great effort by Cotto in that first minute, but Canelo won the exchange. Cotto pings a jab again. Canelo is unfazed. Seeing a lot of maturity from Canelo. He weathered Cotto’s early assault and ended up landing the bigger shots. 10–9, Canelo.

ROUND 7: Canelo lands some big shots to start the round. Huge left hand by Canelo. Cotto presses forward. Good body shots by Canelo. Cotto with more pitter patter stuff. Canelo is not moving as much. Kind of daring Cotto to trade with him. Cotto’s solid defense is what is keeping him in this fight. He’s blocking a lot of big punches. Good uppercut from Canelo. Cotto responds with a jab. Another nice jab from Cotto. Cotto more active again, but Canelo takes it with a strong number of big shots. 10–9, Canelo.

ROUND 6: Cotto applying a little more pressure now. Canelo responds to the body and two wicked shots to the head. Nice body shot by Cotto, who is still moving well. Just no pop on his punches at all. Good jab by Cotto, Canelo does a little two-step in the ring. Cotto didn’t do damage this round, but he was the more active fighter. Give it to Cotto, 10–9.

ROUND 5: Canelo is a vicious puncher. Doesn’t take anything off. Good speed, great power. If he connects clean with one of them, Cotto is going to be in trouble. Nice uppercut by Canelo. Caught Cotto there. Now Cotto flurries. Couple of clean shots to the head. Good head shot by Canelo. Another close round, but I thought Canelo landed the cleaner shots. 10–9, Canelo.

ROUND 4: Canelo is in total control. He tags Cotto with a right to start the fourth. Canelo’s defense is much sharper than I remember it. He’s learning, getting better. Cotto still jabbing, still trying to probe his way to the inside. Cotto lands a power shot and Canelo just keeps moving forward. Cotto closes the round with a nice shot. Might have stolen it there. Give it to Cotto. 10–9, Cotto.

ROUND 3: Cotto a little more aggressive to open the round. You can tell Cotto is wary of Canelo’s power. He’s not willing to open up. Nice right by Cotto, but Canelo is unfazed. Canelo is missing some of these power shots, but he's getting closer. It’s only a matter of time before one lands. Good right by Canelo. He’s winning this round clearly too. 10–9, Canelo. 

ROUND 2: Both fighters targeting the body at the start of the second. Canelo has a significant size advantage in this one. Can see it in the ring. Good power shot to the body by Canelo. Cotto tries to counter. Strong right by Canelo. Cotto taps him with the jab. Nice double jab by Cotto. Good shot to the head by Canelo. He's by far the more powerful fighter. Canelo countering Cotto’s jab well. Easy round to score. Give it to Canelo. 10–9, Canelo.

ROUND 1: Canelo opens with a wild left hand miss. Another miss. Cotto taps him twice to the head. Jab by Cotto. Canelo the aggressor, but it's not heavy pressure yet. Couple of nice blocks by Canelo. Good jab by Cotto. Good left to the head by Cotto. Canelo lands a body shot. Swings and misses to the head again. Canelo is throwing some bombs. Canelo landing a little better now. Close round. Give it to Canelo. 10–9, Canelo.

8:58 PT: And here comes Miguel Cotto, the champion. He’s got plenty of fans here, too, but they are drowned out by the boos from Canelo’s crowd. Worth noting: Cotto closed at right around a 3–1 underdog in the Vegas books. I think that’s too high. We’ll see. 

8:55 PT: Here comes Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the challenger. It’s a decidedly pro-Alvarez crowd tonight, which is to be expected. Mexican fans are rabid, and they travel, especially to Vegas. Juan Manuel Marquez, Julio Cesar Chavez  (Jr. and Sr.), among others, have done well here over the years, and tonight is no different. 

8:05 PT: The unwatchable Guillermo Rigondeaux just finished a lopsided and horrendously boring decision win over Drian Francisco. It was vintage Rigo, who blends tremendous skills with an eye-gouging style in equal measure. Afterwards, a visibly frustrated Francisco had this to say:

“Rigondeaux is not a fighter, he is a runner,” Francisco said. “He is afraid of getting hurt and doesn’t want to fight. I felt pressured into being the aggressor during this fight because he wasn’t fighting, he was running away. He is not a power puncher and won by points. I trained really hard for this fight and I feel like it was a waste of time because I didn’t encounter a fighter tonight.”


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