In one of the most anticipated fights of the year, Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) and Canelo Álvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) thrilled fans from start to finish with high-intensity action just as promised, but it was Canelo that persevered and was crowned the new WBC, Ring Magazine and Lineal Middleweight World Champion with a unanimous decision win after 12-rounds.
Entertainment and sports figures including JAY Z, Beyonce, Mark Wahlberg, Nicey Nash, Mario Lopez, Paulina Rubio, Kate del Castillo, Michael B. Jordan, Sammy Hagar, UFC Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm, Kelly Rowland, Charles Barkley, Erick Aybar, Angie Martinez and former and current fighters Evander Holyfield, Andre Ward, Zab Judah, were all in attendance to catch the excitement live in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“I have a lot of respect for Miguel,” said Canelo Álvarez following the fight. “He is a great champion and a great fighter. We knew going into this fight that it would be a difficult journey, but I feel that I was the faster and stronger fighter tonight. I wasn’t hurt by his punches. I want to thank my trainers, they are like my family and the best people I know and I couldn’t have done this without them.”
Álvarez continued, “I’m not afraid of any fighter. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is a great fighter, and he is my friend. I have respect for him, but if we do fight, it’s going to be at my weight class. I’m the champion, and I don’t have to do what he wants.”
“I was fully prepared for what Cotto was going to do in the ring, whether that was take a defense stance or be the aggressor,” Álvarez said lastly.
“We are very proud of Canelo today,” said Eddy Reynoso, trainer for Canelo Álvarez. “As we all know, he started from the bottom and now he is the champion. I was never worried about him from the first round through to the 12th round. He has great defense strategy, but I was hoping that he would have finished Cotto sooner. I know that he was looking for the knock out and as a result didn’t throw as much as he should have to put Miguel on the canvas. We have a lot of respect for Miguel, he is a great fighter, and we have tremendous respect for Freddie Roach as a trainer.”
“I knew he was winning,” said Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, trainer and manager for Canelo Álvarez. “He went into this fight with a clear head and a full heart and that is what he needed to be successful tonight. I am proud of him, proud of his simplicity to admit that we were once no one and now he is the middleweight champion. I wish he would have put more pressure on Cotto from the beginning, but I knew he was enjoying himself. He showed how beautiful the sport can be when you fight in an intelligent way.”
“This fight will take Canelo to a whole new level now – this is a new era in our sport,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, at the post-fight press conference. “Canelo’s next fight will be in May for the weekends of Cinco de Mayo and in September for Mexican Independence Day.”
After the fight, Miguel Cotto said, “Wow…(then directed his attention to Freddie Roach and said) Are you okay? That’s all that matters.”
In Cotto’s locker room after the fight, Roc Nation Sports founder JAY-Z said of Cotto’s performance, “Great fight” and Juan Perez, president of Roc Nation Sports said to Cotto, “We are proud of you.”
Freddie Roach, Miguel Cotto’s trainer, said after the fight in Cotto’s locker room, “We thought it was much closer than the score cards showed. It was a very competitive fight. Miguel’s defense was unbelievable.”
For the evening’s co-main event, Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs) was crowned the new WBC Super Featherweight World Champion, retaining his undefeated status after securing a technical knockout in the ninth-round over Takashi Miura (29-3-2, 22 KOs).
“I’m the champ, I’m the champ!” said Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas. “This is a dream come true for me, something I have been fighting for my whole life. I knew Takashi was going to be a tough opponent, that’s why he is the champion, so I had to make sure I was prepared to face a fighter like him. I feel that my preparation paid off for this fight. I knew I had to be very aggressive, and I showed that in the first round so he knew that I would not be bullied. When I was knocked down in the fourth round, I felt even more motivated to win this fight. I made sure to fight the way I wanted, how I wanted and my style and now I’m the champion of the world! I hope all the fans enjoyed themselves tonight with my performance.”
Former WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KOs) made his return to the ring for the first time after signing with Roc Nation Sports and secured the win against Drian Francisco (28-4-1, 22 KOs) in a 10-round super bantamweight fight.
“I feel terrific after the fight,” said Guillermo Rigondeaux. “He threw heavy but his style has nothing on mine. My style outmatched his. It’s been 11 months since I’ve been in the ring and I definitely felt some cobwebs but I d like to see some other fighters be out 11 months and come back with a win. I definitely wanted to give the fans a better fight so I need to get back in to the gym, get more active to give a better performance. I promise that with the tools I have now after signing with Roc Nation that next time I’ll be explosive. Thank you to my team for helping me get this win.”
“Rigondeaux is not a fighter, he is a runner,” said Drian Francisco. “He is afraid of getting hurt and doesn’t want to fight. I felt pressured into being the aggressor during this fight because he wasn’t fighting, he was running away. He is not a power puncher and won by points. I trained really hard for this fight and I feel like it was a waste of time because I didn’t encounter a fighter tonight.”
Opening up the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast, Santa Ana, California’s Ronny Rios (25-1, 10 KOs) battled Jayson “Star” Velez (23-1-1, 16 KOs) of Junco, Puerto Rico for a hard-fought victory after 10-rounds to secure the WBC Silver Featherweight Title.
“I felt like I dictated the pace of the fight, and I felt like I was landing more power punches than him,” said Ronny Rios. “He did throw a few body shots at me that hurt but they weren’t significant enough for me to stop pressuring him and doing what I needed to do to secure this victory. He actually surprised me; I thought he was going to use the jab all night but he was definitely getting in the inside. This is a really big victory for me. I have a belt now, and I know that bigger things will come my way because of it.”
“I was expecting that to be a tough fight, but I did my job,” said Jayson “Star” Velez. “He had some good rounds, I had some good rounds. I think the deduction is what really got me. I did my job tonight but he was better at his job tonight.”
In preliminary undercard action, San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Alberto “El Explosivo” Machado (12-0, 9 KOs) faced Tyrone “Hands of Stone” Luckey (8-5-2, 6 KOs) of Long Branch, NJ in a six-round lightweight bout. Machado used his power to get a first-round knockdown
Puerto Rican favorite Jose “Chiquiro” Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) held on to his undefeated status with a unanimous decision win over Oscar Mojica (8-1, 1 KO) of Dallas, TX in a six-round junior bantamweight fight.
“I’m proud of my team and myself,” said Jose “Chiquiro” Martinez.”I want to thank God and my family. This was a very tough fight, but I am just going to keep working to achieve more wins.”
Zhang “Big Bang” Zhilei (6-0, 3 KOs) of Zhengzhou, China, a Silver Medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, took on Juan Goode (6-3, 5 KOs) of Taylor, MI in a four-round heavyweight bout. Zhilei, an imposing figure, quickly took control of the ring and dominated the first two rounds. The taller Zhang came out landing hard straight left hands to the head of Juan Goode early on. Utilizing his superior height and reach, Zhang was able to effectively smother Goode’s attack for most of the fight until the final round. Goode was able to land a hard right hand in the fourth, which dropped Zhang, but Zhang rose to meet the count and managed to hold on to win a unanimous decision.
“I feel very good that I am still undefeated,” said Zhang “Big Bang” Zhilei. “I was careless during that knock down. I am going to keep fighting until I am a world champion.”
Opening up the card, San Antonio up-and-coming prospect Hector “El Finito” Tanajara (4-0, 3 KOs) took on Uruapan, Baja California, Mexico’s Jose Fabian Naranjo (3-2-1, 1 KO) in a four-round lightweight bout. Tanajara quickly dominated the pace of the fight with his aggressive attacks on Najaro and won the fight via first round knockout when Najaro couldn’t make the count.
“I am happy that I got to fight on the undercard of Cotto-Canelo, one of the biggest fights of the year,” said Hector “El Finito” Tanajara, Jr. “Because of this I knew I had to train for this fight and make sure I looked good in ring and today I accomplished it. This is a win for Mexico and I hope I started the trend tonight, victories for Mexico, go Canelo.”