3 More Rounds

Cotto vs. Canelo: Who Wins?

Photo: Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/GBP

Photo: Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/GBP

It’s fight night in Las Vegas, as lineal middleweight champ Miguel Cotto takes on Canelo Alvarez at Mandalay Bay.

The two fighters have been on a collision course for some time and with the huge Puerto Rico vs. Mexico boxing rivalry as the backdrop, fight fans can surely expect fireworks tonight.

Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs), who has been on a tear since teaming up with Freddie Roach, has won three straight, all by stoppage including his destruction of former champ Sergio Martinez.  Though at the tail end of his career, Cotto has never looked better, be it due to good matchmaking, a better training program with Roach, more confidence or a combination of those. Nonetheless, Cotto is on his A-game, and he’ll have to bring it against Canelo if he is to reign supreme.

For Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs), this presents a huge opportunity to walk away as the middleweight champ and add to his growing fan base as Mexico’s most popular, current, star. Canelo, who hasn’t yet reached his physical prime, has already earned invaluable experience against experienced veterans, including Floyd Mayweather, who gave Canelo his only pro loss in 2013. Since that loss, Alvarez has racked up three straight wins (2 by knockout) and also gained additional experience against a tricky fighter like Erislandy Lara.

Both fighters are extremely confident about their chance of victory but only one can walk away as the man. So who will win? A few of our staff members share their predictions:

Matt Knowles – Majority draw (116-112 Alvarez, 114-114, 114-114) – I’ve been going back-&-forth on my prediction for this match for the better part of 3 months, and have decided that I will go ahead and meet in the middle with a cop-out prediction of a draw. After all, it’s been a while since boxing has had a sketchy decision in a major title bout, and I think we are overdue for some Monday morning water cooler boxing controversy conversations at the office…right?!?!

I see Cotto starting fast with 2-3 punch combos in the opening rounds, bouncing on his toes and darting in and out of Canelo’s punching range. As the bout wears on, Canelo’s physical strength and precision punching will create opportunities along the ropes, as Cotto’s aging legs begin to fade into the Sin City sunset. I believe that Cotto will somehow, someway, make it to the finish line, while giving away the majority of the late stanzas in order to simply survive. When the scores are read, the pro-Canelo crowd will rain boo’s upon the ring, as they cry foul over a suspicious (yet not horrific) majority draw conclusion.

CottoCaneloNYPC_Hoganphotos3Ali ShakoorI can see this playing out in several different ways. However, my gut tells me that this fight won’t go the distance. Both fighters have had issues tiring in fights, and both have knockout power. I think Cotto is the much, much better natural fighter. He has faster hands and is far more versatile, as he can either work as a stalking power puncher or box on the move. Canelo, I think he’s rather basic and really good, but nothing special when it comes to natural athleticism. But, and this is a big, BUT, Canelo has ridiculous power. Canelo’s power is two-fisted and he carries it late into fights. Cotto has always had problems with punch resistance, and Canelo is arguably the hardest puncher he’s ever fought. 

1. Mind over heart: I can see Cotto mixing boxing and punching in the first half of the fight, with a lot of success. But at some point I think Cotto will get hurt during an exchange; likely an uppercut, since Cotto is susceptible to them and Canelo throws them very well. That exchange would lead to Cotto getting stopped.

2. Heart over mind: Cotto is by far my favorite active fighter. I appreciate his quiet strength and honesty. Also, he’s fought everyone of note, and has given us all so many great memories in the ring. I teared up with emotion and jumped around my living room, when he earned his dramatic revenge against Cheato in 2011. Cotto’s my dude, man. Love the guy. A plausible scenario would be Cotto catching Canelo with a left hook in the later rounds, which would lead to a TKO. Cotto and Roach seem to have found a great formula of boxing and power punching. True, we can pick apart the skills of the competition in their fights together, but the eye test also shows Cotto moving and punching extremely well, and showing a great deal of confidence. I think maybe Cotto takes Canelo to school with his superior skill level, and stops him with the left hook inside of 9 rounds.  

I cannot stop thinking about Saturday night. I love boxing so much. This is going to be a special fight. Puerto Rico vs. Mexico. Aging legend vs. young star. A fight for THE middleweight championship of the world. This will be a night where I have to turn off the Twitter, calibrate the perfect alcohol buzz and get lost in the moment of being part of something special.

Martin GallegosThis fight is as close as a toss up as it gets for me. Canelo has youth on his side, but he’s never been known as a guy who can apply constant pressure for 12 rounds. He usually gasses out late in a fight, so the youth factor is negated here. Despite Canelo having more pro fights, outside of fights with Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout, he has not exactly fought the cream of the crop in terms of opposition. Cotto clearly has been in the ring with superior opposition, so experience is on his side. Still, the 35-year-old Puerto Rican has taken a lot of damage in his career. While he has looked rejuvenated since the move over to Wild Card Gym with Freddie Roach, an inferior Delvin Rodriguez, a one-legged Sergio Martinez and a weight-drained Daniel Geale is not necessarily the best measuring stick when trying to figure out just how much Cotto has left in the tank. He clearly dominated those fights, but he was supposed to.

Breaking the two fighters down, in terms of power I give a slight edge to Canelo, though Cotto does possess a bomb of a left hook. Hand speed also goes to Canelo. The better boxer of the two? Both men are technically sound, but Canelo has excellent head movement and can be a very sharp counter-puncher. Cotto is usually there to be hit in his fights and this could be something that Canelo takes advantage of.

As for who I’m picking to win the fight, I will go with Canelo Alvarez. Early in the fight, I think he will apply pressure on Cotto looking to do some damage. Cotto will weather the storm, but over the course of 12 rounds, Canelo will have done enough to earn a decision victory.

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Ramon Aranda: I too have gone back and forth as to who I think will ultimately come out the winner. Cotto for me, is the better all-around boxer and has shown he can either get into a war by trading or lay back and box when he needs to. The fighters that have given Cotto the most difficulty are either ones who can physically out-muscle and out-gun him (Pacquiao, Margarito I) or those who are slicker (Mayweather, Trout).  Canelo is a naturally bigger fighter and has some pretty scary knockout power.  However, Canelo can also be outboxed as he was against Floyd and when he nearly lost to Lara.  I think it comes down to which type of gameplan we see out of Cotto.  If Canelo can manage to trap him along the ropes and cut off the ring, he could wear him down and eventually score a late stoppage.  If the fight is in the middle of the ring and Cotto can keep a safe distance and come in only when he needs to land bigger shots, then I think Cotto can earn a decision.

So which of the two outcomes is more likely? It’s tough to pick, but I can see Cotto getting a little too worked up in exchanging fire with Cotto that he leaves himself open to a left hook or a thumping body shot that takes him out. Canelo by late KO.

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