Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoughts on Cotto-Alvarez

On November 21st the focus of the Boxing world centered on the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV for the much-anticipated battle between multi-division world champion Miguel Cotto and former WBC Jr. Middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Much of the focus in the week leading up to the fight centered on the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) decision to withdraw its recognition of Miguel Cotto as its Middleweight world champion for Cotto’s failure to comply with the WBC’s rules and regulations and ruling that the championship would be on the line for Alvarez only.

Despite much of the attention being focused on the subject of the WBC Middleweight world championship prior to the fight, the sport of Boxing was treated to a fight that lived up to expectations when Cotto and Alvarez squared off in the ring. For twelve rounds two of Boxing’s biggest stars engaged in a closely fought tactical battle.

Many of the rounds in this fight were extremely close and difficult to score. In many ways, the bout was the definition of what most associate with a close fight. Both fighters having their share of moments in almost every round and neither really taking a backward step. When it comes to close fights where both fighters are able to have their moments however, the challenge for the three official judges scoring the fight as well as fans watching the fight is to see and determine which fighter is able to be more effective with their offense.

Cotto was the more active of the two fighters and was effective in his use of lateral movement as a way to both set up his offense and defend himself from Alvarez’ punches. Alvarez however, was the more accurate of the two fighters and seemed to land the more effective punches. Although Cotto was more active throughout much of this fight and landed his share of offense, he was not really able to hurt Alvarez, back him up, or discourage Alvarez from coming forward.

As the fight progressed, Alvarez’ naturally bigger size, ability to absorb Cotto’s offense, ability to continue to apply pressure on Cotto and land the more effective punches of the two gradually became the difference in the fight. In the eyes of this observer, Alvarez was able to win several close rounds simply by landing punches that did more damage even though Cotto was more active.

A tactical Boxing match from the opening bell until the final bell where each fighter is able to have periods of effectiveness is bound to create a difference of opinion not only in terms of who won the fight, but particularly in how the fight is scored. Unofficially, I scored this fight eight rounds to four or 116-112 in points for Saul Alvarez.

Although the score may appear lopsided and not accurate in terms of what is considered a close fight, it is important to remember that fights are scored on a round by round basis. Even though many of the rounds in this fight were very close, Alvarez seemed to be more effective than Cotto in executing his offense. This ultimately was the basis for my scorecard and how I arrived with an 8-4 margin in favor of Alvarez.

The three official Judges Burt Clements, John McKaie, and Dave Moretti turned in slightly wider scores at the end of the twelve round championship bout. John McKaie scored the fight 117-111 or 9-3 in rounds, Burt Clements turned in a score of 118-110, or 10-2 in rounds, and Dave Moretti scored the bout 119-109, or 11-1 in rounds all in favor of Alvarez. Even though there have been some in the days following the fight that have called the scoring controversial and/or believe that Cotto did enough to win the fight based on outworking Alvarez over the course of twelve rounds, this observer believes the decision was accurate although I believe the bout was closer than how judges Clements and Moretti scored it.

With the victory, Alvarez won the WBC Middleweight world championship in what should be viewed as the biggest win of his career thus far. As for what is next for Alvarez, it is logical to assume that a battle against unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin may be in the near future. Golovkin also holds interim championship status in the WBC’s Middleweight ratings per his victory in a defense of his unified world championship over previously top rated WBC contender Marco Antonio Rubio in October of last year.

Whether or not the WBC will mandate a unification bout between Alvarez and Golovkin to take place sometime in 2016 remains to be seen. It will also be interesting to see whether the WBA or IBO will mandate Golovkin to face a mandatory contender in either sanctioning organization’s respective ratings before a bout with Alvarez can take place.

It will also be interesting to see how the upcoming Middleweight bout between top contender Daniel Jacobs and former undefeated WBO Middleweight world champion Peter Quillin on December 5th may factor into potential plans for a Golovkin-Alvarez unification clash. Jacobs currently holds interim/regular champion status in the WBA’s Middleweight ratings and one might argue that the winner of that fight could be mandated by the WBA to face Golovkin at some point in the future.

If a bout between Golovkin and Alvarez does not take place in the near future, it may be possible that a potential rematch between Alvarez and Cotto could take place regardless of whether Alvarez’ world championship is on the line. The fight between Cotto and Alvarez was very competitive and this observer believes a rematch between the two would be embraced by Boxing fans and experts alike.

Although it remains unclear as of this writing as to how successful the fight did in terms of pay-per-view buys, it was successful in providing an entertaining close battle between two of the sport’s biggest stars. A claim that cannot be made for some of the sport’s recent major pay-per-view attractions. Why not entertain the possibility of a chapter two between Alvarez and Cotto?

“And That’s the Boxing Truth.”

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