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Classic Fight: Canelo Alvarez scores first star win over Miguel Cotto

In what is maybe the last marquee Mexico vs Puerto Rico bout, Canelo Alvarez topped Miguel Cotto in 2015.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

In late 2015, Canelo Alvarez had all the hype and some good wins, but hadn’t won a big-time, marquee main event when he faced Miguel Cotto in an HBO pay-per-view main event from Las Vegas.

Alvarez, then 25 with a record of 45-1-1 (32 KO), had already become a marketable star, and he’d already scored some good wins. He beat Austin Trout, for instance, who had upset Cotto in late 2012 and prevented the initial plans for Canelo-Cotto from going through in 2013. (Golden Boy was still fine going ahead with the fight, but Alvarez insisted on facing Trout, who had less name value, instead.) Alvarez also won a debatable split decision in 2014 over Erislandy Lara, a guy nobody was dying to fight and many in Alvarez’s position would have avoided.

With Floyd Mayweather — Canelo’s only loss in an ambitious step up in class in 2013 — having retired yet again and Manny Pacquiao on the decline, boxing needed a new big superstar to step up. All industry eyes were on the young Mexican to take the role as the new king of pay-per-view boxing.

The 35-year-old Cotto (40-4, 33 KO at the time) wasn’t ready to just step aside, though. He’d suffered back-to-back losses to Mayweather and Trout in 2012, but bounced back with three straight wins, including an upset over Sergio Martinez in June 2014 to become the WBC and LINEAL!!!!! middleweight champion.

Cotto wasn’t really a middleweight, but then neither was Alvarez at the time. The vacant WBC and WBC “Diamond” titles were on the line for their bout (only Canelo could win the normal WBC title here, as Cotto refused to pay what he thought were “excessive” WBC sanctioning fees), which was also the last time Caneo was “B-side” in the promotional material for a fight:

Personally, I thought the bout was extremely competitive and scored it even in the end, 114-114. I didn’t really have a problem with Alvarez getting the win, but the scores were wide to me, coming back 117-111, 118-110, and 119-109.

It was also a good fight, tactical but engaging, and to date really the last genuine big fight in the Mexico vs Puerto Rico rivalry, as Puerto Rican boxing has struggled in recent years to produce star fighters, and are still waiting on someone to take over for the now-retired Miguel Cotto the way Cotto did after Felix “Tito” Trinidad was done.

After this bout, Canelo went on to become boxing’s new big star; he has his detractors, but all the big stars do, in one way or another. Cotto entered into negotiations for a possible fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in 2016, but that fell through, and then a signed bout for early 2017 against James Kirkland never happened. Eventually, Cotto fought two more times, beating Yoshihiro Kamegai in Aug. 2017 and then losing an upset to Sadam Ali in Dec. 2017 at Madison Square Garden, a venue where Cotto had become one of the all-time stars and attractions over his career.

How’d you score this fight? Were the judges too generous for Canelo? Is my even card nuts? Let’s hear it!

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