Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto and Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez announced Thursday they will fight Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, renewing a rivalry expected to be a slugfest.
“I feel very happy that Cotto and I will write our own story and continue the legacy of great fights between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans,” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 knockouts) told The Times in Spanish during a telephone interview with his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, translating. “I’m embracing this rivalry.”
HBO will televise the bout on pay-per-view, and the catch-weight limit will be 155 pounds, five less than the middleweight limit.
Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs), the World Boxing Council middleweight champion who’ll turn 35 in October, is a gritty, devastating body puncher who’s rebuilt his career with three consecutive victories since uniting with famed trainer Freddie Roach.
Alvarez, 25, his country’s most popular fighter, engaged in the second-richest pay-per-view bout in history in his 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and answered with three straight wins, including a May knockout of James Kirkland.
Alvarez-Cotto follows a heated line of Mexico-Puerto Rico battles that have included Salvador Sanchez versus Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad vs. Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas, Julio Cesar Chavez-Edwin Rosario, Chavez-Hector “Macho” Camacho and Gomez-Lupe Pintor.
“This fight was made to be outstanding,” said Alvarez, whose training camp in San Diego has been underway for a couple of weeks. “That’s what I’m preparing for. I’m training very hard, expecting an all-out brawl.”
In a prepared statement Thursday, Cotto said, “I will give the fans the fight they want to see. ... I am here to fight the best names and the best fighters. This will be another chapter in my career and I will be ready for him.”
Alvarez said he feels deep respect for Cotto, who will receive the greater percentage of a purse split that officials declined to reveal.
“He’s a great champion, but I’m prepared for this,” Alvarez said. “I’m working on my speed, conditioning, my power, my combinations every single day. And the experience I’ve gained in the ring has made me a better fighter than I’ve ever been.
“I view this as a 50-50 fight, that whoever shows up more prepared with the better game plan will win the fight.”
The deal became final after De La Hoya and Cotto’s promoter, rapper Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, decided not to include a rematch clause. They have a verbal arrangement to work for a rematch if this bout is entertaining and competitive, De La Hoya said.
Also, Jay Z won the right to have Roc Nation’s all-black ring mat in place rather than a standard blue mat.
Additionally, the WBC ordered each fighter, should he win, to agree to fight top-ranked contender and unbeaten World Boxing Assn. middleweight champion Gennady Golvkin. That option could be bypassed by vacating the belt.
Although the Mandalay Bay Events Center, expected to seat 11,500, is smaller than MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the promoters opted to place the fight there on Nov. 21 because the MGM facility is booked that night with an extreme sports show.
The MGM venue was open on Nov. 7, but promoters wanted to avoid competing for the American sports audience with CBS, which is scheduled to televise the Alabama-LSU football game that night.
The Alvarez-Cotto media tour will include stops in Los Angeles, New York, Puerto Rico and Mexico, said De La Hoya, who projected at least 1.5 million pay-per-view buys for the bout.
“It’ll be the biggest all-action fight of the year,” said De La Hoya, who hasn’t set the pay-per-view price yet, but added, “It will be a lot less than Mayweather-Pacquiao for a far better fight.”
There are talks to also place unbeaten super-middleweight champion Andre Ward on the card.
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