LAS VEGAS – If Canelo Alvarez didn’t make his intentions clear in the ring after vanquishing Miguel Cotto Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to claim the linear middleweight title, he left no doubt at the post-fight news conference.
Asked if he’d fight Gennady Golovkin, the burgeoning superstar who holds the WBA, IBF and interim WBC middleweight belts, Alvarez raised his arms in a double biceps flex pose.
“I’m not afraid of anyone,” Alvarez said after also claiming the WBC middleweight title with a 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111 unanimous decision victory over Cotto.
The crowd of 11,274 was overwhelmingly in favor of the 25-year-old Alvarez, who showed he’d learned from his one-sided defeat to Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The bout wasn’t the classic that many fans were hoping to see. Cotto primarily stuck with his jab and circled the ring, looking for openings and attempting to avoid the younger man’s power.
Alvarez didn’t do a great job of cutting off the ring, and he threw far too few jabs, but he was the one all night landing the clean, hard blows.
Cotto actually out-threw Alvarez, 629-484, but that was largely due to an inordinate number of jabs. Cotto threw 374 jabs to Alvarez’s 186, so he stockpiled the punches.
But Alvarez was raking him with lead right hands, uppercuts and hooks throughout the fight. CompuBox statistics had Alvarez connecting on 118 of 298 power shots, while Cotto landed just 75 of 255.
Cotto earned a $15 million payday, but despite making that kind of life-changing money, he couldn’t be bothered to attend the post-fight news conference.
He felt he’d won, and his only comment was, “Wow.”
His trainer, Freddie Roach, said everyone in Cotto’s corner felt he had won and said he followed the plan to box Alvarez nearly perfectly.
“What bothered me was that the scoring was so [wide],” Roach said. “We didn’t lose the fight that much. There is no way.”
But he lost it and must now ponder whether he wants to fight again or take his $15 million, say goodbye to boxing and wait five years for his call from the Hall of Fame.
The win was arguably the most significant of Alvarez’s career and boosted him into a powerful position in the sport. He’s a big draw who can fill seats like few others. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said Alvarez is going to fight on the first Saturday in May and then again on Mexican Independence Day weekend next year.
Whether or not the first of those two bouts is against Golovkin remains up in the air, as De La Hoya wouldn’t say.
“I’m not saying he’s fighting anyone else, but I’m not announcing anything,” De La Hoya said. “We’re going to let him rest and then we’ll talk about it. Is he going to fight Triple-G? Absolutely, of course. It’s not a question. Canelo is willing to fight anyone.”
Alvarez improved to 46-1-1 with his victory, but figures to open as a slight underdog against Golovkin. Golovkin is 34-0 with 31 knockouts and has 21 knockouts in succession.
It’s a bout boxing fans have demanded for several years, and it moved a step closer to becoming reality on Saturday after Alvarez got past Cotto.
“It would be a difficult fight for both of them, because they know each other,” Golden Boy partner and former world champion Bernard Hopkins said. “They’ve sparred each other many times and they have a feel for each other. That doesn’t give a 100-percent advantage, but when people look at Triple-G and Canelo, a fight fan will want that fight.
“We know that a fight fan isn’t a businessman. A fight fan isn’t a business person in boxing. … You have to look at all these ingredients and ask, ‘Do we get him now?’ or ‘Do we get him a fight or two from now?’”
The WBC ordered the winner of Saturday’s fight to face Golovkin, but several days before the fight, Cotto said he would not pay the sanction fee. That meant that should Cotto have won, Golovkin would have automatically become the WBC champion, but he wouldn’t have had the fight he desired as Cotto would not fight him.
Earlier in the day in an interview with Yahoo Sports in his suite, Golovkin predicted an Alvarez win and was hopeful a fight could be made.
“I think so, I do,” Golovkin said. “I think that’s how he is. He wants to fight.”
After one of his recent wins, in attempting to describe Alvarez as a good guy, Golovkin in broken English referred to Alvarez as a good boy. The fans loved it and he’s kept it up.
Now, the two may meet for middleweight supremacy in a bout that figures to be one of the best of 2016.
Alvarez didn’t have to extend himself too much to defeat Cotto, who at 35 gave up 10 years to the red-headed Mexican. Judge Dave Moretti gave Alvarez 11 of the 12 rounds, only seeing Cotto taking the fourth.
Burt Clements gave Cotto only the second and the ninth, while John McKaie gave the Puerto Rican great the first, fourth and sixth rounds.
Alvarez was the stronger fighter with the fresher legs and walked Cotto down. It was a credit to Cotto’s talent and toughness that he was never down or seriously in trouble, but Alvarez landed plenty of hard shots, particularly to the body.
The eighth round was probably the best of the fight, as Cotto came out aggressively and tried to trade with him. But Alvarez won most of the flurries in that round, which was reminiscent of the fight as a whole.
Golovkin, watching from ringside, grinned broadly as it ended. He knew that his dreams will soon come true.
“I’m ready for this, me and Canelo,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
Soon enough, they will.
The business of boxing is notoriously odd and the unexpected should always be expected. But at least the wheels are finally in motion to put together the fight so many want to see.
“You want it, I want it, everyone wants it,” Hopkins said. “But we’ve been making the fights the people want to see. So let’s take a breath and see what happens.”