Canelo Alvarez Out-Huges Miguel Cotto

That headline isn’t meant to troll. Canelo Alvarez boxed pretty well Saturday night on HBO Pay-Per-View against Miguel Cotto — he didn’t win just because he was massive. But massive-ness was the main mechanism of Alvarez’s wide decision win over the middleweight champion.

We don’t know how much the two men weighed on fight night, but we can approximate that Alvarez might have had a 15-pound advantage. Cotto and Canelo traded rounds throughout almost the whole fight, with Cotto’s jab, movement and combinations doing work, while Canelo’s harder shots caught the eyes of the judges. And the home crowd really responded to Canelo even when his punches were blocked. The rounds were difficult to score.

Canelo wasn’t able to get away with some of the things he’d gotten away with before; when he did his “stand here and dodge to show off about my defense” thing against other people, Cotto kept throwing punches until he landed. But Canelo was able to land hard shots on Cotto, speaking to his boxing ability, because Cotto was fairly evasive.

Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach, by the middle rounds, was asking for Cotto to come forward. One problem with that — he couldn’t hurt Canelo, so why would Canelo back up? And that, ultimately, was how Canelo won. If you think Canelo boxes poorly while backing up, and he comes forward at will because he doesn’t feel his opponent’s punches, game over.

Canelo never hurt Cotto, mind you, not very badly, but he did bruise him up and he did land solid shots. By the 11th and 12th rounds with Cotto going for it all, he couldn’t dole out more than he got back. The scores were too wide, in this writer’s opinion: 117-111, 118-110 and 119-109 (vs. our 116-112). But there wasn’t really an argument for Cotto winning.

If Cotto’s career ends here, it will be a Hall of Fame career, my teammate Sam Sheppard’s arguments aside. He fought the best of his generation and lost some of those fights, but he won his share, too, and was one of the marquee stars of this era, a persistent presence on the pound-for-pound top 10 for much of his career.

And if Canelo’s star — already pretty bright — takes off from here, he will have Cotto’s scalp and marketability to thank. The clear issue for him is that he struggles to fight in a division where he’d be at his physical best, aka junior middleweight. He could beat a lot of middleweights, probably, but not the best of them: Gennady Golovkin. If he insists on Golovkin coming down in weight, well, economically he can do that and get away with it. It wouldn’t be the coolest move, given that Canelo is now the true middleweight champ.

This might be a dance we see for a while, a lesser version of the lengthy dance between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. For one evening, though, we got a solid chess match between two boxer-punchers with the young gun coming out on top against the old pro.

(Canelo Alvarez throws a right at Miguel Cotto during their middleweight fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Nov. 21 in Las Vegas; Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.

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