Mayweather-Pacquiao may have been the event of the year but Saturday's fight between lineal middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and former 154-pound titlist Saul Alvarez boasts plenty of star power and promises far more action. Can the 35-year-old Cotto hold off his 25-year-old challenger or will "Canelo" achieve the signature win of his career?
Strong Rebounds: Both come into this fight in peak form. In June Cotto destroyed Daniel Geale in four rounds, out-landing him 68-33 overall, 25-11 jabs and 43-22 power and finishing the fight with two knockdowns. He landed 37% overall, 34% jabs and 44% power, all above the middleweight averages of 31%, 22% and 38% respectively. Twenty-eight days earlier Alvarez spectacularly stopped James Kirkland in three, scoring one knockdown in the first and two in third, the last of which left the "Mandingo Warrior" semi-conscious. Alvarez was magnificent on offense as he landed 58% overall, 45% jabs and 60% power and out-landing his foe by big margins (89-42 overall, 79-41 power).
For both, these fights are an extension of their three-fight winning streaks since Cotto lost to Austin Trout and Alvarez to Mayweather, both of whom are common foes. On offense Cotto has prospered under Freddie Roach's tutelage as he has landed a combined 49% overall, 44% jabs and 51% power against Delvin Rodriguez (KO 3), Sergio Martinez (KO 10) and Geale while Alvarez's last three performances (KO 3 Kirkland, W 12 Erislandy Lara, KO 10 Alfredo Angulo) prove he is nearing his prime -- if he's not already there: 45% overall, 28% jabs, 54% power. Both fight at a moderate pace (40.5 per round for Cotto, 43.1 for Alvarez, well below the 55.8 middleweight norm) but their precision more than compensates. The big statistical gap in their last three bouts has been defense. While Alvarez's foes landed a combined 19% overall, 13% jabs and 25% power, Cotto's opponents have landed 29% overall, 21% jabs but 38% power. In fact, Geale managed to land 44% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Was this a product of Cotto's confidence or has the favorable matchmaking obscured a slippage in reaction time?
Cotto Redux: Five-and-a-halfyears ago Alvarez met Miguel's older brother Jose Miguel on the Mayweather-Mosley undercard. There, Jose Miguel stunned and nearly dropped Alvarez with a hook in round one, but from then on Alvarez dominated as he ended the bout in round nine and led 223-135 overall, 194-91 power), landing 38% overall and 55% power to Cotto's 26% and 31% respectively. In the last two rounds Alvarez led 70-17 overall and 62-8 power.
Prediction: The 155-pound catchweight shouldn't be a problem for Canelo, the younger, faster, fresher man who also has 10 years of pro experience as well as height and reach. Cotto's success has largely been a result of favorable circumstances and the mirage will be exposed here. A superstar is truly born. Canelo by late-round TKO.