LAS VEGAS — Three thoughts on Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on Saturday night...
1. This was a big moment for Canelo
Alvarez had rebounded nicely from a loss by decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, winning three straight, including an impressive decision over Erislandy Lara. Yet this fight with Cotto was considered Canelo’s toughest test since Mayweather. Test, passed. Canelo was brilliant, patiently walking Cotto down, pounding him with power shots and showcasing the kind of conditioning any star fighter needs to fight at the highest level.
Canelo was expected to be the bigger puncher, and he was. From the first round on it was clear Cotto respected Canelo’s power; he didn’t apply much pressure and kept his guard high, which prevented him from doing much more than jab for most of the fight. Canelo didn’t have a signature moment—a few solid flurries here and there was basically it—but he was in control of the fight throughout.
It appeared it could get a little dicey in the later rounds, when Canelo’s activity level slowed and Cotto seemed to be racking up points with soft but accurate jabs. The punch stats reflected that: Canelo was credited with landing 155 of his 484 punches (32%) while Cotto hit Canelo with 129 of the 629 punches he threw (21%), according to CompuBox. SI.com scored the fight 115–113 in favor of Canelo; the judges saw it a blowout, with all three (119–109, 118–110 and 117–11) handing the fight to Canelo.
2. This could be the end for Cotto
Cotto has already said he doesn’t have much time in the ring left. He’s 35 and fought enough wars for two lifetimes. Cotto will make at least $15 million for this fight, a nice golden parachute if he decides to hang ‘em up. And maybe he should. He has nothing left to prove and, frankly, there isn’t an opponent out there for him to fight. He can rebuild his career at junior middleweight, he can continue working with Freddie Roach, maybe win another title, but to what end? A rematch was suggested before the fight but the outcome won’t leave many begging for one.
“We thought it was much closer than the scorecard showed,” Roach said. “It was a very competitive fight. Miguel’s defense was unbelievable all night long.”
Cotto’s career has been outstanding. He ranks right up there with all the great fighters in Puerto Rico’s decorated boxing history, including Felix Trinidad. But it’s very possible that career has come to an end.
3. Will Canelo fight Gennady Golovkin?
As soon as the scores were read, this was all anyone wanted to know. By beating Cotto, Canelo is now the WBC middleweight champion. But the WBC has mandated that the winner of Canelo-Cotto must fight Golovkin or surrender the belt. Golovkin was in Vegas this week and made it clear: He’s ready, willing and able to fight Canelo whenever he is ready.
Now, before we start doubting Canelo, remember he’s never shied from a fight. His resume is loaded with high level opponents, and there is no reason to believe he will back down from this one. That said, it would not surprise me if Canelo doesn’t fight Golovkin right away. He can take an easier fight, on HBO, at middleweight, and formally work his way up. The fight will still be there. Even without the title, Golovkin knows that Alvarez is his biggest payday. If Canelo wants to fight in September, on Mexican Independence Day weekend—and that’s my prediction—Golovkin will be ready and waiting. And that fight, if it happens, will be as big as any we will see in 2016.