Canelo Alvarez

Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez | Preview and Prediction

Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez: Preview and Prediction

So far 2015 has produced some great fights and some extremely disappointing ones, but Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez has the potential to be one of the best, if not the fight of the year.

It’s an unlikely scenario that we as boxing fans would anticipate the competitiveness of a matchup between a seasoned veteran and a young superstar with a record that well, makes him also look like a veteran fighter, at least on paper. Fights like these tend to go one of two ways: the chip off the old block puts on a clinic for the younger, less-experienced guy. Or, the young gun forces the veteran into retirement.

What makes Canelo vs. Cotto so intriguing is that both men are really the same kind of fighter (the boxer-puncher), yet each of them bring unique qualities, game-changing strengths, and fatal weaknesses to the table. When it comes down to it, Cotto vs. Canelo is really about us boxing fans facing the unknown–the reality that anything can happen in this fight.

Boxing promoters will often try to sell us a “50/50” fight that isn’t, but true boxing fans know when we have one on our hands. So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the best 50/50 matchup of 2015. This is a tough call, but let’s break down each fighter to see who gets the edge.

Tale of the Tape

Cotto Canelo Tale of the Tape

According to the tape, both Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez have some advantages. Both men have relatively the same amount of fights and rounds boxed, with Canelo boasting just one more fight and a few more rounds boxed than his counterpart.

Interesting enough, Cotto and Canelo have faced many of the same opponents in their careers including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Shane Mosely and Austin Trout.

The younger Canelo stands two inches taller than Cotto and has a much longer reach. While being the taller opponent makes Canelo more vulnerable to attacks to the body, his reach advantage can help him close the distance quickly and keep Cotto at bay when needed. Even with longer arms, Canelo has the ability to deliver crisp punches, which is definitely a plus.

A critical key to victory for Cotto is being able to double jab to work around Canelo’s reach. While we’re on the subject I might as well add that jabs to the body wouldn’t hurt either. Being shorter, Cotto has easier access to Canelo’s body than the other way around. I expect to see Cotto deliver an abundance of jabs to set up some crisp combinations of his own.

Main Storylines

Miguel Cotto - Canelo Alvarez Ismael Gallardo RBRBoxing (23)
Photo by Ismael Gallardo/RBRBoxing

Of course, a megafight wouldn’t be right without a flare of drama. The most recent development is less about the fighters and more about the dirty politics of boxing. The World Boxing Commission (WBC) stripped Miguel Cotto of his middleweight belt on Tuesday for refusing to pay $300,000 in sanctioning fees.

Cotto tried to negotiate a lower fee without success. After the WBC rejected his offer, he settled on not settling. Cotto’s decision was made taking into account that Gennady “GGG” Golovkin had been paid a $800,000 “step-aside” fee so that Cotto-Canelo could happen.

Surprisingly, Cotto was fairly relaxed about the WBC controversy (via ESPN). “I am not disappointed by the WBC’s decision. It was all about money.” In light of the WBC’s absurdity, he also explained that he would prefer to keep that kind of money to himself. This however, isn’t the first time Cotto has been screwed over by the boxing business.

Round by Round Boxing’s own Brandon Glass recently wrote a piece breaking down the business dilemmas the veteran fighter has experienced over the course of his career:

[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“The business aspect of boxing has forged Cotto into a stern and aloof businessman…if Cotto makes a decision that benefits Cotto more so than the fans or the sport, he is one of the few fighters that has legitimately earned the right to do so. The complaints against his increasingly shrewd negotiating would be more legitimate, if it was anyone other than Miguel Cotto: a fighter that for most of his career has been the consummate professional and the type of fighter that pundits and fans talk about wanting to see in the ‘Money Mayweather’ era of boxing.” – Brandon Glass[/otw_shortcode_quote]

Canelo is ready for the fight, title or no title for Cotto, though for him the belt is up for grabs.

“I’ve had a great preparation. I’ve worked very hard. I am patiently waiting for Saturday night to have my hand raised in victory once again. It’s going to be a difficult fight, I know that, but that is why I prepared properly, and I am ready to give a great fight,” said Canelo at the final press conference.

Strengths

Miguel Cotto - KEN GOLDFIELD KEN GOLDFIELD
Photo by Ken Goldfield

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto’s experience and heart are just two of his many strengths going into the fight. He’s faced a lot of different fighters and styles in his career, making the challenge of facing Canelo Alvarez a serious, yet familiar one. Ask any Cotto fan, and he or she will tell you that if there’s one thing Cotto has more than anything when he fights it’s plenty of heart.

I can’t forget to mention Freddie Roach, the man behind the scenes and in Cotto’s corner. Rarely are trainers listed as a fighter’s strength, but even Cotto agrees that Roach is one of the most important factors in him winning this fight. “My career had a different way to go right now because of Freddie,” said Cotto. “We can talk about our plans, what is going to be best for us during the fight. Our chemistry is the best thing we have with each other.”

Cotto’s union with Roach is particularly fascinating because he truly has improved and looks the best he ever has. People must understand that this is incredibly difficult for fighters to pull off in the winter of their career. Freddie has helped Cotto refine his best strengths, including the timing and execution of his best punch, the left hook.

In looking as sharp as ever, Cotto has demonstrated in more recent fights a solid jab, devastating body punches, and an impressive stamina for his age. Cotto has also been active this year having fought in June, meaning he’s less likely to have ring rust affect his performance. Not to mention, Cotto can box much better than Canelo. With Roach’s guidance he can avoid making costly mistakes and find holes in his opponent’s game plan.

 

Canelo Alvarez James Kirkland - Scott Halleran Getty Images 3
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez is primarily known for his power, which is why many boxing fans are putting their money on him. He can rip incredible shots to the head and body and place them accurately.

Unlike many power punchers, Canelo doesn’t wing his shots or throw recklessly. His crisp delivery and placement of punches is what makes him stand out as a powerhouse in the boxing game.

I believe Canelo thrives off his power, but he doesn’t tend to look for just one perfect shot. Canelo is excellent at putting his punches together in attack-thwarting combinations. This is an important skill for the fight because if he can’t outsmart Miguel Cotto, he’ll have no choice but to outwork him.

Weaknesses

Floyd Mayweather Miguel Cotto - AP Photo
AP Photo

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto’s key weakness is his age. Now, at 35 Cotto has looked incredible in his last couple of fights. However, it has yet to be seen how he will fair if Canelo Alvarez is able to land serious shots on the boxing veteran. Canelo is a boxer-puncher but more puncher than boxer. I do believe he’ll be going for the knockout.

The best plan for Cotto is to not let the fight escalate to this point. Competitive exchanges will make for an exciting fight, but Cotto needs to be very careful. He must remain as sharp and calculating as possible in order to win the fight. Taking too much punishment early on will likely thwart his chances.

 

Canelo Lara - Photo by Josh Hedges Getty Images39
Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez is vulnerable to more weaknesses than Miguel Cotto. Like many fighters whose best asset is power, Canelo tends to rely on it. I see this in how flat-footed he is and how he always has to “set” before throwing a punch. The downside to having knockout power is that a fighter can become increasingly frustrated if he can’t send his opponent to the canvas.

Also, Canelo tends to throw his punches with the same rhythm and intensity. It’s not enough for a fighter to throw a lot of punches, especially against a skilled boxer. Canelo needs to be more diverse in how he throws his punches so that they’re not as easy to time, and so that he doesn’t punch himself out.

This brings me to my next point which is Canelo’s stamina. Though he is the younger fighter, Canelo is known to tire in the later rounds. We haven’t seen it get to the point of quitting, but he does tend to fade in the second half of the fight. A decrease in Canelo’s stamina will give Cotto more leeway to impose his game plan, take away Canelo’s confidence, and deter his will to win.

Winner and Why

Cotto Martinez - Chris Farina
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

Cotto-Canelo is one of the best matchups to come along in a while. I’m riding with Miguel Cotto because I believe he has what it takes to outbox Canelo Alvarez (the path of least resistance), and to exchange with him when necessary. Perhaps if this was the pre-Freddie Roach Cotto I would have more doubts, but as of late Cotto looks how a skilled, well-conditioned veteran should.

Make no mistake that Canelo also has a great chance of winning this 50/50 fight. He’s young, determined and has a will to win that could prove dangerous for Cotto. I’m most looking forward to seeing if and how Canelo’s boxing IQ has developed. Winning this fight will open a lot of doors for the Mexican superstar looking to leave his mark in the sport of boxing.

I’m banking on Cotto’s boxing intelligence, conditioning, and his corner to lead him to a victory. I predict the fight will go the distance with Cotto winning by majority decision.

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