Saul "Canelo" Alvarez entered the ring last night (Sat., Nov. 21, 2015) as the bigger and younger man, but the question lingered as to whether he also had the skills and cardio to deal with Miguel Cotto's aggression and veteran savvy.
The answer is, "YES!."
After some closely-matched opening rounds, Alvarez put his size and power to great use, ultimately taking a unanimous decision over his Puerto Rican rival inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cotto (40-5, 33 KO) started strong, putting together swift combinations and utilizing quality footwork to take the first round from his flat-footed foe. Before long, however, an important fact became readily apparent:
Alvarez's punches could hurt Cotto. The inverse was untrue.
As the rounds progressed, Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KO) began walking down Cotto and putting together effective combinations. He especially found success with his uppercuts and right hands to the body, with which he effectively pierced Cotto's guard.
The Puerto Rican legend remained game throughout and the fight seemed evenly-matched for the first six rounds, but his inability to hurt Alvarez proved telling. The young Mexican star effectively swept the last six rounds, taking hom ethe unanimous decision on scores of 117-111, 119-109, and 118-110. MMA Mania had it 117-111 for Alvarez.
"Canelo" put together a very solid performance, one which puts him in line to face Gennady Golovkin in the near future should he wish to keep his new WBC middleweight belt. Cotto, despite a losing effort, didn't look shot or anything near it. I look forward to both men's future efforts.
The co-main event, thought by many to be a "Fight of the Year" in the making, pretty much lived up to expectations. After nine brutal rounds, Francisco Vargas successfully out-slugged Takashi Miura, taking the latter's WBC title in the process.
Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KO) nearly felled Miura in the very first round, landing a crushing right hook that nearly took the Japanese champ off his feet. Though Miura (29-3-2, 22 KO) survived the round, Vargas seemed to be in total control with his power and volume.
At least until the end of the third round, when Miura knocked him on his ass with a heavy left hand.
From there, the fight alternated between tit-for-tat and favoring Miura, who walked through an inordinate amount of punishment to dish out his own and badly bruise up the challenger's left eye. Late in the eight, another left hand sent Vargas stumbling to the ropes, where he was saved by the bell.
With his back against the wall, Vargas erupted with a savage combination to start the ninth round, knocking Miura down hard. In a fit of machismo, Miura scrambled to his feet as quickly as possible, which may have been a mistake. Vargas never let up and Miura never managed to get in the fight. Though he stayed standing, Tony Weeks made the correct decision to stop the fight, making Vargas the new WBC Super Featherweight Champion.
It was a damn good scrap.
In the second bout, Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0, 10 KO) stunk out the joint in a unanimous decision win over Drian Francisco (28-4-1, 22 KO). Rigondeaux had his foe badly outclassed, but never took the risks necessary for an entertaining performance, instead pot-shotting and running circles around the Filipino challenger for all 12 rounds.
That's about all the thought I'm willing to give that one, so let's move on, shall we?
The evening began with an upset, as Ronny Rios used solid pressure and quality infighting to hand Jayson Velez his first professional defeat. Rios (25-1, 10 KO) faced an uphill battle early on, as Velez (23-1-1, 16 KO) used a solid jab and crisp counters to keep the smaller man at bay. To make things worse for Rios, referee Jay Nady took a point because of low blows, several of which actually landed on Velez's highly-elevated belt line.
The tides turned before the midway point, however, as Rios' began landing heavy blows to the head and body. Velez's counters, once sharp, failed to halt his advance, and the Puerto Rican's willingness to engage Rios on the inside proved a grave mistake.
There was some concern before the scorecards were read that Rios might get the shaft, as Evgeny Gradovich had before against Velez, but the judges thankfully saw reason and gave Rios the unanimous decision win.
For quick results and round-by-round coverage of "Cotto vs. Canelo" click here.