Saturday night, HBO Boxing PPV presents one of the major combat sports events of the season, as Miguel Cotto takes on Canelo Alvarez. Bloody Elbow will have live fight night coverage of Cotto vs. Canelo right here starting at 9:00 p.m. ET, and get full Cotto vs. Canelo coverage from Sports Blog Nation here. Get ready for the fight with this Canelo vs. Cotto fight preview, as we break down the skills of each fighter.
MIGUEL COTTO (40-4; 33 KO) vs. CANELO ALVAREZ (45-1-1; 32 KO)
One of the things that makes this such a great fight is that there's not a clear cut winner in these categories. Both men are high level boxers without significant holes in their games - that makes picking the better man in any one area tough. For offense, you have to look at who each fighter is today. Two years ago, this would have been Canelo pretty clearly, but under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, Cotto has tightened up his offensive game considerably. And any discussion of Miguel Cotto's offense has to start in one place - the left hook to the body. For years that was his bread and butter, and it's back now thanks to Roach. It's one of the best punches in all of boxing - a nasty shot that Cotto sets up beautifully. He also has a great jab that he can land from inside. What's intriguing here is that those strengths are also strengths for Canelo. He too has great body shots, a nice power left, and great set ups for both. He also adds in some brutally powerful uppercuts to the mix. There's a similarity to the two men's offense, with neither having a clear cut advantage.I tend to lean towards Canelo having more power, but it's not quite enough to convincingly sway this area either way for me.
Here, things become a bit less murky. As the years have progressed, Cotto has become a bit more able to be hit. Even in his very impressive performance against Daniel Geale last time out, Geale managed to land 44% of his power shots. Now, it's worth noting that he only threw 50 power punches, so that 44% represents just 22 punches. Those 22 didn't particularly phase Cotto, but that's still a pretty high connect rate for a guy who got stopped early. By comparison, James Kirkland managed to land 41 power punches on Canelo in their fight - but that was a more fast-paced affair and those 41 represent just a 23% connect rate. These kinds of stats are not anomolies for Cotto and Canelo, and they show that, overall, opponents can find Cotto's chin at a higher rate than they can find Canelo's - even if they get Canelo in a dogfight, as Kirkland did. Also consider that Canelo has never been dropped, while Cotto has a pair of KO losses (admittedly, those came against an in his prime Manny Pacquiao, and Antonio Margarito who may or may not have been using illegal hand wraps at the time). Add all that together, and this one is somewhat clear in my eyes.
There are two distinct schools of thought on both of these men. For Cotto, some argue that Roach has revitalized him to the point that he is at his best right now, ready to show his all time great status. The detractors will all admit he looks (and is) much improved lately, but will also point out that he's looked great against a journeyman in Delvin Rodriguez, a shot Sergio Martinez and a questionably shot Daniel Geale. For Canelo, you have those who say that he's one of the best in the world, and that at 25 years old he's only getting better. But again, there are the other voices who say he's never beaten anyone of note (many question his best two wins over Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout), and that perhaps Freddie Roach was right when he questioned Canelo's heart. For whatever it's worth to you, ESPN ranks Cotto at #9 on their pound for pound list, Canelo at #10. They both have fierce supporters, and that makes it hard to sort out the truth - which is what Saturday night is for.
As for me - I see this as a rising fighter only getting better vs. a crafty veteran nearing the end. But I also see it as a younger, stronger fighter in there against a fighter who will be at a defensive disadvantage. And based on that...
Prediction: Canelo Alvarez by late KO