He was bigger, stronger, and younger. And in the end, that was enough for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to pound out a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on Saturday night in Las Vegas and win a piece of the middleweight championship.
The red-headed Mexican sensation’s victory over the more experienced and fleet-footed Cotto, Puerto Rico’s most popular fighter, also set up a superfight against middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, the undefeated Kazakh knockout artist who was sitting ringside.
"With all due respect, if he wants to fight right now, I'll put the gloves on and fight him,” Alvarez said of "Triple-G” immediately after the fight.
"I'm not afraid of any fighter. Triple-G 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 [natural] weight class [of 155 pounds]. I'm the champion. I don't have to do what he wants.”
Alvarez, 25, earned his win over Cotto, 35, with harder punching and sharper aggression. But the slicker, craftier Cotto looked good enough that the decision was much closer on many media scorecards than the wide spreads scored by all three judges at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
"I'm very happy, and much respect to Miguel Cotto. I will always respect him and he's a great champion, but now it's my era,” crowed Alvarez, who fought Cotto at a catchweight of 155 pounds, five pounds less than the division limit of 160. Alvarez weighed exactly 155 the day before the fight, but after rehydrating appeared noticeably larger than the Puerto Rican star in the ring.
Cotto, who seemed shocked by the loss, went to his dressing room without doing any post-fight interviews. VIPs at ringside included Jay-Z (who promotes Cotto through RocNation Sports), Beyonce, Holly Holm, Charles Barkley and Evander Holyfield, along with many of boxing’s current champions.
Both fighters have rematch clauses in their contracts, but there’s no reason to believe another fight would be much different. Alvarez (46-1-1, 31 KOs) wants to be boxing’s next pay-per-view king in the post-Floyd Mayweather era, and taking on the fearsome Golovkin would go a long way toward proving that. Though it's not clear whether Alvarez would face Golovkin next in May, or sometime later in 2016.
Mayweather used his superior boxing skills to easily clinch a decision victory over Canelo in 2013 in the Mexican's sole loss, after winning a tougher fight against Cotto in 2012.
But that was then, this is now. The winner of Canelo-Golovkin could legitimately lay claim to the sport’s glittery PPV crown. Boxing's matchmakers can be notoriously slow to pit superstars against each other in their primes, but let’s hope this latest megabout happens soon.
Photos by John Gurzinski / AFP / Getty