Photo: Will Hart
HBO Boxing Insiders offer their predictions for how they see Saturday's mega-fight between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez playing out:
Canelo W 12
Three exemplary performances should be enough of a sample size to prove somebody is "back," but I remain unconvinced with Cotto. I think the youth, physical strength, and desire of Alvarez will earn him separation in the second half of the fight, and he'll score a late knockdown or two en route to pulling out a competitive but clear decision win.
My prediction is Canelo by KO. Cotto is a great fighter but jusstttt a touch small for this fight. Canelo's power is going to be too much for Cotto to stand up to. Golovkin is more the size of fighter who might be able to stand up to Canelo's power. I do think Cotto is the superior boxer, but he's not that elusive. He trades, and that will be his downfall.
Canelo TKO 10
Canelo Alvarez is younger, bigger, stronger and likely faster than Miguel Cotto, even if vastly outflanked in experience by the Puerto Rican star. And while fights are never simple things, with the odds at present suggesting this one is plenty complicated, it should nonetheless prove a fairly conclusive affair: Cotto's comeback has been heavy on names but light on substance, in a way that doesn't augur particularly well for victory. Alvarez is no superstar yet (at least not in fighting terms), but he's substantial enough to be the favorite here. Expect a stoppage, too, perhaps a mercy one, as the middleweight crown passes from one to another.
Frank Della Femina
I won't go so far as to pick the round, but I do know that I will be sitting and waiting for that left hook to come out of nowhere. If that connects and rattles Canelo, then that's all she wrote. Even if this goes 12 rounds, which I doubt it will, I won't rule out a Cotto win until that final bell.
Miguel Cotto is the better boxer and the more experienced fighter at the championship level, but questions remain about the legitimacy of his resurgence under Freddie Roach. Has he flattered to deceive, given the faults in his last three opponents? In Canelo, he’ll be facing a legitimately strong foe close to his physical prime, and the Mexican’s solidity will ultimately prove to be the difference. Behind on points, Canelo will start walking Cotto down in the middle rounds and will overcome the tiring veteran to score a stoppage in the tenth round.
Miguel Cotto has put himself in a very good place both mentally and physically. With a clear mind and a perfect training camp under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, the Puerto Rican star is days away from pulling off the upset over the younger and stronger Mexican super star, Canelo Alvarez.
In his long and storied career, Miguel Cotto has faced almost every boxing style out there, and he always comes up with something that his foes were not expecting or couldn't deal with, even in defeat. He traded heavy artillery with the uber-aggressive Pacquiao, managed to hurt and injure the almost untouchable Mayweather, and has outbrawled or outboxed some of the best talent across four weight classes. But his cinnamon-freckled opponent Canelo Alvarez is just as talented and powerful, and has the resilience and the grit to turn this into a distance proposition. This is not good news for the superbly fit yet rapidly aging Puerto Rican superstar. Look for Cotto outsmarting and occasionally outlanding Alvarez through eight rounds, only to start wearing down under a controlled demolition effort by Canelo and eventually lose by decision or even late stoppage.
Even matchups are as rare in boxing these days as sightings of the Red Panda are, but when veteran Miguel Cotto squares off against Saul Alvarez at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino tomorrow night, the pick ‘em fight—an increasingly endangered species—reveals itself for one of the few times in 2015.
I wrote this about Alvarez before he faced pesky Erislandy Lara last year: “In the ring, there is something about Alvarez ... that suggests an actor who slightly underplays his role. This is not an intense Method practitioner—De Niro, Brando, or even John Garfield—under the lights, but a glib talent too often at ease before the cameras. At some point during every fight, Alvarez takes his foot off the pedal and begins to coast.”
Against defensively challenged pressure fighters such as Alfredo Angulo and James Kirkland, Alvarez could pick his shots deliberately and even sit back to land counter punches. Boxers, on the other hand, have often made “Canelo” look as elemental as a pictograph. He struggled against Austin Trout and Lara and was outclassed by Floyd Mayweather. Of course, Trout and Lara were both southpaws and Mayweather is an otherworldly talent, but if Cotto, who has become a bit more footloose over the last year or so, can alternate between circling on the perimeter and throwing combinations in close, he has a good chance of keeping Alvarez off-balance from round to round.
But if there is a determining x-factor for this fight it may be this: Miguel Cotto has barely broken a sweat in the ring over the last three and a half years. Blasting out the unholy trinity of an outclassed Delvin Rodriguez, a creaky Sergio Martinez, and a malnourished Daniel Geale has given Cotto an aura of dynamism that may underscore just how illusory modern prizefighting can be. Although he is often mechanical and, like Jeb Bush, low-energy, Alvarez will duck through the ropes with every conceivable physical advantage over Cotto: height, reach, age. More important, perhaps, is the fact that his struggles against world-class opposition may be worth more than the knockover wins Cotto has notched recently. This is a difficult fight to pick, but the guess here is Saul Alvarez by a hairpin decision.