Youth was served
While some may quibble with the margin of victory (especially Dave Moretti’s scorecard) for Saul Alvarez over Miguel Cotto this past weekend at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, make no doubt about it – the right man got his hands raised in victory. On this night, youth – and quite honestly, size and strength – ruled the day for “Canelo.” While Cotto had his moments, the young Mexican star did the majority of the work in there and, for the most part, carried the action.
Canelo had the biggest moments in a fight that was more solid than spectacular.
In defeating Cotto, Alvarez is the newly-minted WBC middleweight titlist (and more on that situation later). The future is bright and Golden Boy Promotions, which has taken it on the chin a bit during the fall, can exhale a bit. While Lucas Matthysse’s and David Lemieux’s defeats were disappointing, a loss by their franchise fighter might have been devastating. Now, Canelo has firmly entrenched himself as one of the foundations of the sport’s future, post-Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
As for Cotto and Roc Nation Sports, well, it was a hard knock life.
Here are random thoughts and observations from sitting ringside at the underused Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino Events Center this past weekend…
– For the record, I had Alvarez up 117-111 and, yes, there were a lot of pretty close rounds but, from my vantage point, Canelo pressed the action, controlling long stretches with his heavy jab and landed the more damaging punches throughout. Cotto is at his best when he’s coming forward, being the aggressor and consistently landing his trademark punch – the left hook.
But for too many long stretches in this fight, Cotto – who has replaced running with spinning as a way to condition himself – was simply on his bicycle for a good portion of this fight, especially in the second half. If he had a better finishing kick, Canelo might have been able to really punish the undersized Cotto. But that’s the remaining issue with him; whether it’s related to his temperament or his style, that’s just who he is.
He will always leave you wanting a bit more against elite-level opponents.
– Now in regard to the judging, one boxing insider told me that the inexperience of Roc Nation Sports really came into play here. The fact that they didn’t seem to object to Dave Moretti (who scored the fight 119-109) who seems to be the house judge for Canelo, having sat ringside for four of his last five fights (including a close nod over Erislandy Lara and scoring four frames against Mayweather – which was overshadowed by CJ Ross somehow ruling it even at 114-114).
History has shown that Vegas goes with the money. And with Canelo being a Mexican star and about a decade younger than Cotto, well, no matter what the purses were for this particular fight, Alvarez was the money here.
Now this is the Oliver Stone in me but it says here that once Cotto and Roc Nation Sports declined to play ball with the WBC – and Cotto could no longer retain the belt – that any benefit of the doubt Cotto needed to win this fight, well, that went right out the window and that may have been reflected in the scoring. The ringside consensus is that Alvarez won this fight in the range between 116-112 (eight rounds to four) and 117-111 (nine rounds to three).
– Now, after this fight, Canelo defiantly said regarding a match-up with IBF/WBA beltholder Gennady Golovkin, “I’m not afraid of any fighter. ‘GGG’ is a great fighter and he is my friend. I have respect for him but, if we do fight, it’s going to be at my weight class. I’m the champion; I don’t have to do what he wants.”
Well, this is where things get interesting. This redhead from Mexico is one of the few fighters who truly transcends the title belts. But there’s a reason Golden Boy was so upset that Cotto didn’t pay his $300,000 sanctioning fee to Mauricio Sulaiman’s organization: Having these belts is important to promotions (example: When these supposedly meaningless belts are on the line, they get more money for international television rights) and you wonder how it would look for a Mexican boxer to drop this particular brand.
But Canelo is correct; he is the A-side here and, as one of boxing’s premier attractions, he has a certain ability – like Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd and Manny before him – to enforce a certain kind of leverage and, at times, make up their own rules as they go long. In this case, it’s the “Canelo-weight,” which is basically something below the middleweight limit of 160 pounds that might make Golovkin uncomfortable. Yeah, we can just hear Marvelous Marvin Hagler grumbling all the way from Italy right now.
GGG and his team have made it very clear that their goal is to capture all the belts in the middleweight class one way or the other. If they don’t comply with Alvarez’s demands (and Canelo ends up vacating the belt), Golovkin will have added another title to his growing collection but would ultimately eschew the biggest payday available in the process.
So while Alvarez has to decide if he’s going to abide by the edict set forth by the WBC, Golovkin may have to decide if he will comply with Canelo’s to make this fight a reality. It’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game going on. Will Golovkin be Lennox Lewis to Alvarez’s Riddick Bowe when it comes to the WBC belt?
De La Hoya, whose company represents Alvarez, stated at the post-fight press conference that he would be staking his claim on the coveted May and September pay-per-view slots for his prized client (so yeah, let the games begin there). Oscar has promised that GBP would continue to match-make aggressively and continue to do the fights for which the fans clamor.
My best guess (and that’s all it is. Unlike Ivan Boesky, I have no inside information here) is Alvarez will face Golovkin but it won’t happen in their next fights.
– My understanding is that Golden Boy and Roc Nation Sports are still at loggerheads when it comes to various points of the fight contract (which still weren’t resolved and not signed). Yeah, this was a very contentious co-promotion and Roc Nation’s mix of arrogance and ignorance really turned a lot of people off.
– Speaking of which, I’m sure most of you found the inclusion of reggaeton performer Yandel to be a bit odd (hey, that was all Roc Nation, by the way) but what had to be the worst part of that segment were the two extremely loud gunshot/explosion sound effects they used, which, quite frankly, scared the hell out of everyone there. I can’t lie; I nearly dove under the desk. You could literally hear people gasping in the audience as they sounded.
And get this: They did it twice.
Uh, hey guys, don’t you think that, based on recent events in the world, perhaps this was a bit ill-advised?
– Now, one good thing about Yandel is that at least it woke everyone up from the doldrums of the exhibition put forth by Guillermo Rigondeaux against Drian Francisco. Yeah, I get it. Some of you find his style of boxing to be brilliant and something that should be appreciated. But the problem is, many others just find it boring and monotonous. In Francisco, who was an over-matched foe, he was just content to do the very least and was allowed to stick around for all 10 rounds.
By the end of the first round, you could hear a smattering of boos. By the third and fourth frames, the catcalls became much louder and consistent. By the late rounds, the crowd was so apathetic and disinterested, they didn’t even bother to give any feedback. As I looked around press row, most were immersed in their laptops and cell phones.
For all this talk of a match-up with Vasyl Lomachenko (and who knows if that fight is even financially feasible to HBO’s budget?), ask yourself this: Did “Rigo” do his part to make you excited about that fight or seeing him again?
– Just about every seat on Saturday night was filled by a loud and raucous crowd. There was a palpable energy expected of an event like Canelo-Cotto. But many fans got in for well below face value with tickets that, quite frankly, from top to bottom, were over-priced. To put this into perspective, it cost more to sit in some of the upper levels of the Mandalay Bay for this fight ($1250) than for the highest priced seat for Juan Manuel Marquez-Pacquiao IV ($1,200).
That’s insanity. Marquez-Pacquiao IV was a legitimately huge fight in its own right and was only three years ago.
– What a display of courage and heart from both Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura, who put on the fight of the night (maybe even the year) as the semi-main on this card. Vargas started hot by stunning the Japanese champion in the first and carrying the early action with his right hands. But Miura, a southpaw, turned the tide in the middle rounds with sharp left hands at the end of the eighth frame. At that point, it looked like Vargas was on the verge of being stopped. Suddenly at the start of the next round, he caught lightning in a bottle by striking Miura with a right hand that had the defending champion buzzed and reeling. He did his best to survive but, eventually, referee Tony Weeks waved off the action.
The turn of events was as stunning as it was exciting. Vargas is now the reigning WBC 130-pound titlist. And yes, there is already talk of a rematch next year and venues like the Forum and StubHub Center are being mentioned.
Saul Rodriguez made a statement on Friday night by halting Ivan Najera in one. This kid has a natural left hook…An agreement has been reached by all parties to have Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward meet in the second half of 2016. But Kathy Duva is still trying to make an Adonis Stevenson-Kovalev fight for the summer…Geez, it’s already time for Thanksgiving?…So hold on, Les Miles is on the hot seat at LSU?…Seriously, Jamal’s music on FOX’s “Empire” is really good…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.