LAS VEGAS, November 21, 2015 – Who will win Saturday’s middleweight bout between Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico and Canelo Alvarez of Mexico?
It is a legitimate Fight of the Year candidate, a 50-50 bout between two talented fighters who both have a legitimate chance of winning. The much anticipated pay per view fight is picking up fan momentum, capped by the electric atmosphere at Friday’s weigh-in after fans waited hours in line to get in and see their champions in person.
Because of the tremendous by fans and experts alike, there is no shortage of opinions. Here’s how some of them line up:
Team Cotto: Teddy Atlas, Rosie Perez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, Delvin Rodriguez, Manny Pacquiao, Andy Lee, Joe Gallagher, Scott Quigg, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Gabriel Rosado, Joe Cortez.
Team Canelo: Julio Caesar Chavez, George Foreman, Paulie Malignaggi, Amir Khan, Austin Trout, Tom Loeffler, Gennady Golovkin, Antonio Margarito, Erik Morales, Dominic Verdin, Rafael Herrera, Kathy Duva, Cameron Dunkin, Kenny Adams, Joe Calzaghe, Chris Eubank Jr., Carl Froch, Shane McGuigan, Mario Lopez, Larry Merchant, Felix Trinidad, Dan Rafael, Kevin Iole, Lyle Fitzsimmons, Lance Pugmire, Brian Campbell, Steve Kim, EJ Boxing Live, Robert Littal, Orlando Salida, Robert Garcia, Ivan Calderon, Jackie Kallen Jeandra LeBeauf, Terri Moss.
If you sense the majority of experts favor Canelo Alvarez, you would be correct. Whether former boxers or boxing journalists, they lean toward Canelo Alvarez two to one. Cotto does have supporters, including a few surprises like the great Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez and his longtime foe, Manny Pacquiao. There is a natural divide between Mexican fans and Puerto Rico fans.
With such an evenly matched pair of opponents, there are specific keys for each to winning the fight.
Size: Cotto has admitted before he is not really a middleweights; he’s a super welterweight. Alvarez is naturally the bigger man of the two. Cotto negotiated a lower weight (a catch weight) which is still within the middleweight range to try and even the odds here.
Speed: Bigger men are naturally slower than smaller men, which would give the naturally smaller man Miguel Cotto the edge. Alvarez and his team have worked hard during their camp on Canelo’s foot and hand speed, and he appears much improved. But Cotto probably still has the edge in speed.
Punching power: With most opponents, this would not be an issue with Cotto. He has perfectly adequate power, especially pound for pound. Canelo is known to have superb power, and if he can unleash it, Cotto is in trouble.
Boxing Skills: Cotto is masterful at working the ring, and he has the kind of skills and experience which allow him to pace himself, and maximize the effect of his punching skills while minimizing the potential to get hit with his good defensive skills Alvarez is known as an aggressive fighter, sometimes to a fault. Has he corrected this tendency?
Experience: Although Cotto is ten years older than Alvarez, they have virtually the same number of professional fights and the same number of professional rounds in the ring. They have several common opponents, with Floyd Mayweather being the most formidable. Both lost, but Cotto looked better against Mayweather than Cotto.
Age: Boxing skills can deteriorate rapidly due to age. With his youth advantage, this goes to Alvarez. Alvarez will be the fresher fighter going into the later rounds.
Our prediction: Miguel Cotto would like to turn this into a boxing match. Canelo Alvarez prefers a hard-hitting brawl. Both must work to impose his personal vision of the fight on his opponent. It will come down to who is more disciplined sticking to the plan and how skilled he is executing it. Neither boxer can operate in a vacuum; getting his opponent to “go along” and fight in a way that is against his style is a key to victory.
Cotto needs to stay mobile, move in, strike, move out, and repeat. Canelo needs to cut off the ring, get Cotto in front of him and keeping him there so he can hit him. Cotto cannot brawl toe to toe; Canelo cannot box at long range.
Canelo is the bigger man, but his recent training shows that his speed is greatly improved. He has learned a great deal from his bouts against Floyd Mayweather and Erislandy Lara, two boxers with superior defensive skills. He should be able to chase down Cotto and force him to stand and trade. Once he does, the fight should be his. It will take several rounds to do it. There may not be a stoppage; if there is, it will not come from a single knockout, but an accumulation of damage.
We call the fight for Canelo Alvarez by stoppage in the tenth round or later.
Cotto vs. Canelo airs on HBO Boxing Pay Pay View, with three undercard bouts starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story. Copyright © 2015 by Falcon Valley Group