Fighters: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1) vs Miguel Cotto (40-4)
Date: November 21st, 2015
Where: Mandalay Bay Event Center, Las Vegas, NV
Television: HBO PPV
Coming off the dissatisfaction with Mayweather-Pacquiao, I’m shocked that Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto couldn’t come to an agreement to fight this bout in New York. Mexico vs. Puerto Rico. Madison Square Garden would have been the perfect canvas to hype up a fight that could be the fight of the year.
Instead, Golden Boy and Roc Nation decided to stage the fight in the small Mandalay Bay Events center and as of late this week, there were still tickets left unsold. Golden Boy has spent the time leading up to the fight complaining about Floyd Mayweather Jr. more than promoting their own mega-fight.
No matter. Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto know how big this fight is to their career. Both fighters faced Mayweather Jr. and lost in different ways. Cotto was able to cut the ring off on Mayweather Jr. and, even though he was blown out, have great moments against the best fighter of this generation. Since then, Cotto has been paired with fighters that match his style. He’s fought guys he knew were no threat to hurt him. This, as much as anything, has played into the ‘Cotto is back’ hype.
Under his new trainer, Freddie Roach, Cotto is unleashing his left hook more and has incorporated more movement. He’s cutting off the ring even better than he did against Mayweather Jr., who at times, willingly exchanged with him. Cotto’s movement is serving as his best defense. If he doesn’t move, he’s still there to absorb power punches. Punches that cost him dearly against both Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr.
Canelo Alvarez’ fight against Mayweather Jr. was completely different. He seemed baffled by any and everything Mayweather Jr. did. Mayweather Jr. frequently stayed in the pocket yet Alvarez couldn’t touch him. He looked outsmarted and outclassed. Even in his fight against Erislandy Lara, he struggled all night with Lara’s movement and was awarded a controversial victory. Since then, Alvarez’ opponents have been tailor-made for his fighting style allowing him to look spectacular. Guys who he knew were going to be there to hit and who didn’t have enough power to hurt him.
Strategy: This fight will be won or loss depending on how Cotto decides to fight Alvarez. If Cotto uses movement, he is at a decided advantage. Instead of working with Alvarez on cutting off the ring and dealing with fighters who use a lot of movement, Canelo’s handlers decided to match him up against fighters who don’t utilize movement. This could be a mistake that costs Alvarez tonight. Cotto could cruise to an uneventful victory.
What could be Alvarez’ best friend is Mayweather Jr. Since this matchup has been hyped as the anti-Mayweather Jr. fight, will Cotto feel pressure to stay in the pocket and engage more? If that is the case, Alvarez will have plenty of chances to score especially with his stiff jab. If he puts his punches together and throws that devastating uppercut he could knock out Cotto. Cotto’s camp has been talking about taking Alvarez into “deep water” but hasn’t said how they would do it. If Cotto isn’t active in the early rounds, Alvarez could build a lead like he did against Austin Trout and that would force Cotto to come at him in the late rounds. This strategy is risky for Cotto because it gives Alvarez his best chance of getting a knock out.
Prediction: Expect a lot of movement from Cotto in the early rounds, enabling him to jump out to the lead but it will be short lived. Cotto will start slowing down in the middle rounds allowing Alvarez to get into a rhythm and dominate the late rounds. I have Canelo Alvarez winning via a stoppage in the late rounds.
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