Puerto Rico versus México. Experience versus youth. Miguel Cotto versus Canelo Alvarez. One arena. 12 rounds of boxing.
Set to take place at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas on Saturday November 21, be prepared for a pound for pound battle. It will be the stuff that legends are made of.
Last Wednesday, the Wyndham Hotel was alive with the spirit of an age old boxing rival: The feud between Puerto Ricans and Mexicans erupted in a colorful sea of flags and a cacophony of dynamic chants. It was a verbal tug of war. Who could scream “BORICUA” louder than “VIVA MEXICO.” Who could out-cry the name of their favorite boxer. It was insanity, and the fight is still three months away. But how could it not be. Cotto-Canelo is shaping up to be one of the most legendary fights in the history of this cultural clash. Bigger than Trinidad vs. De La Hoya. Greater than Camacho vs. Chavez. This is the fight for the fans; the one they have been waiting for, and the one they are going to get.
The Wyndham was one of four stops of the Cotto-Canelo press tour, in which representatives from Roc Nation Sports, Golden Boy Promotions, Miguel Cotto Promotions, and Canelo Promotions were present, and The Hot Zone was there front and center for every moment. Before the press conference which was open to the riled and howling fans, Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach, boxing star Bernard Hopkins, ex-boxing legend and entrepreneur Oscar De La Hoya, as well as Canelo and Cotto were all present and available for questions individually, as part of the tour.
Freddie Roach was the first to be interviewed and was asked a very crucial question in terms of Saul Canelo Alvarez’s character. It has been said that Canelo is lazy and perhaps too cocky for his own good, and Roach certainly did not shy away from those claims. Instead, he used them to his advantage, chiding that when you’re that young and arrogant, fighters tend to get a little lazy, but Cotto is definitely not the boxer he wants to get lazy with. His confidence in 34-year-old Miguel Cotto was beaming. Despite the 9 year age difference between them and Canelo’s slight physical advantages, his experience makes him the superior and smarter boxer. Roach even took shots at Canelo for his previous opponents carrying a lot of excuses into their matchups, such as James Kirkland and his conviction record. Basically, the sentiment given was that Canelo’s only true challenging opponent has been Floyd Mayweather, who happens to be, Canelo’s only defeat and blemish on his impressive 45-1 record.
Despite Roach’s claims, when Canelo Alvarez entered the press room, he beamed with pride more than arrogance and his words reflected gratitude more than confidence. His translator explained that Canelo feels that it is a big responsibility of his to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Mexican fighters that came before him. “He is thirsty for a victory,” he said and he doesn’t believe that his youth necessarily holds any significant upside against his opponent. He said that the world has seen the best Miguel Cotto they have ever seen in his last few fights, which has been attributed to his newfound relationship with Freddie Roach. Canelo explained that he has to be prepared for anything and everything in order to win this fight. He won’t just depend on the uppercut to beat him, as people often consider this Cotto’s biggest weakness. Canelo has to be ready to adapt.
As for Miguel Cotto, he is one of the most humble fighters that anyone might encounter and is looking for nothing more than a win. “As I have always said, during my whole career, I am here to fight the best names and the best fighters. This will be another chapter in my career and I will be ready for him. Fans will enjoy a real fight, another classic battle in the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry.”
As he addressed his adoring fans at the press conference podium and thanked everyone for their involvement in this fight he ended, saying “I want to get the victory for all Puerto Ricans all over the world.”
Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya took his place at the podium and was met with an interesting response. The Puerto Rican fans in the building grouped together and shouts of “Tito, Tito” resonated throughout the hall. Even Roc Nation founder and rapper Jay-Z, who sat a few rows in front of me, had to look back and chuckle at the ruthlessness of the fans. Referencing De La Hoya’s controversial loss to Puerto Rican legend Felix Trinidad back in 1999, when he ran in the last three rounds of the fight, De La Hoya could do nothing but laugh and mention the “nightmares” he would have later that night. However, he did say that is what the world of boxing needs. It needs the passion of the fans, the same passion and fervor of the night he fell to Trinidad.
With an impressive 40-4 record consisting of 33 KOs against opponents including Shane Mosley, Daniel Geale, Antonio Margarito, and Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto is on his way to cementing himself as the greatest Puerto Rican boxer in history. Currently, he is the first Puerto Rican to become world champion in four different weight classes, which is a testament to his greatness. He is considered Trinidad’s successor and a hero to the people of his hometown Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Saul Canelo Alvarez, at age 25 is already paving his way into history as he has captured the hearts of Mexican boxing fans around the world with his aggressive and determined personality in and out of the ring. After losing to Floyd Mayweather in one of Mayweather’s most difficult bouts, Canelo has won his last three fights coming against Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara, and James Kirkland. He is undoubtedly a warrior, but he is about to be put to the ultimate test.
This WBC and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Championship event will be one for the ages, and whether you are Mexican, Puerto Rican, or just an adoring fan of either fighter of the sport, get ready for a contentious, action-packed, unnerving battle between two titans. From the first bell to the last, you are sure to get the mega-fight the world of boxing has been waiting for.