An anticipated fight second only to that of Floyd Mayweather’s super-bout with Manny Pacquiao last May takes place at the Mandalay Bay tonight as Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez lock horns in Las Vegas.
An agreed world title fight at 155lbs lost some of its shine this week when Cotto and the World Boxing Council fell out publicly in the build-up before making up again at the final press conference.
Now that Cotto’s WBC middleweight belt can only be won by Canelo due to the WBC row over sanctioning fees, more emphasis is on the contest itself as fighting pride dominates the long-running Puerto Rico v Mexico rivalry. Not one to shirk a challenge, four-weight world champion Cotto, 35, meets a pound for pound up and comer ten years his junior in a bid to solidify his already guaranteed place among the boxing greats of his era.
For Canelo, it’s the opportunity to become a two division belt holder following on from his reign at 154 and could eventually lead to a full-time moved up to middleweight. A four-belt clash opposite unified super-power Gennady Golovkin looms for the cinnamon-haired puncher from Jalisco, who has a second chance to prove he can live with the best around following his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013.
Taking on the best of his generation certainly came too soon at the tender age of 23, although Canelo has seemed a more matured boxer in scoring victories over Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara and James Kirkland since then.
Whether it’s enough to keep the rejuvenated Cotto at bay depends solely on which ‘Junito’ turns up on the night as pre-Freddie Roach Austin Trout made the veteran look ordinary before his move to the Wild Card. Since then, Cotto has looked near invincible under the tutelage of multiple-time Trainer of the Year Roach, who has already stoked the fires by branding Canelo’s defence terrible and aiming for a stunning knockout on the night.
A twelve round barnstormer is expected as both have shown granite chins for the majority of their careers and it may just come down to sheer guts as to who eventually has their hands raised by referee Robert Byrd.
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