Column: Canelo Alvarez is bigger and better than Miguel Cotto

'Canelo' Alvarez throws a right at Miguel Cotto during their Nov. 21 middleweight title bout in Las Vegas.

‘Canelo’ Alvarez throws a right at Miguel Cotto during their Nov. 21 middleweight title bout in Las Vegas.

(Al Bello / Getty Images)

They finished with hands alongside each other’s heads. That, and the immediate and direct eye contact spoke volumes. The bell ending their middleweight World Boxing Council title epic had just ended and their first reaction was one of respect for the other.

When the judges spoke, boxing’s axiom had been fulfilled, once again. The younger, stronger, bigger man had won. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez had given boxing what it needed, even if his opponent, Miguel Cotto, certainly didn’t want it.

Alvarez won a unanimous decision Saturday night at Mandalay Bay. The judges had it for Canelo to varying degrees, all of them widely decisive: 117-111, 118-110 and 119-109.


He is now lined up to take on the sport’s current other middleweight superstar, Gennady Golovkin, Triple G from Kazakhstan. It probably will become one of those big-deal boxing matches that you will hear hyped from now until your head aches.

Alvarez earned the respect of those judges, just as he had the respect of Cotto, who was fighting a man 10 years younger and, from the looks of things by fight time, a good 20 pounds heavier.

Cotto kept nipping away. He danced and darted and landed lots of jabs and angle punches. But when Alvarez landed, it was a bomb. Cotto ducked and deflected most of them, but the power eventually took its toll.

Alvarez, the pride of Mexico, had a huge crowd’s backing. Even his misses brought roars and gasps.

Cotto seemed to start tiring in about the seventh round. Instead of constant and annoying stingers, he just danced and tried his best to stay on his feet.

The final round of this 12-rounder said it all. With the crowd roaring at full lung capacity, Alvarez chased Cotto and connected in several flurries. It was clear who was intent on finishing and who was intent on getting out with his wits intact.

Alvarez was asked about taking on Golovkin, the interim WBC champion, who is now his mandatory next opponent.

His answer: “Bring him on.”

Cotto, assumed to be well into the twilight of his career a few years ago after two straight losses, hired legendary trainer Freddie Roach, won three in a row — all by knockout — and appeared a revived and renewed boxer for this one.

Roach talked about getting Cotto back to his dancing days, to his days of more movement and less standing toe-to-toe and attempting to slug it out. For the most part, Cotto stuck to the plan, but it didn’t matter in the end. Canelo Alvarez was just too young, too strong and too big.

The main event had to go some to match what happened in the fight that preceded it.

It was for the WBC featherweight title, and Mexico City’s Francisco Vargas was hanging on against Japan’s champion, Takashi Miura.

Vargas had a cut under his right eye that was opened in the first round and got worse and worse as the fight went on. He spent his time in the corner between rounds getting more attention from the doctor than instructions from his handlers.

After he knocked down Miura in the second round, Vargas’ goal could have been more one of survival than anything else against the hard-punching Japanese fighter.

And then, out of nowhere, he connected midway through the ninth round and hurt Miura badly, sending him to the canvas. Miura got up, tried hard to hang on, but soon referee Tony Weeks had to stop it.

People who rate fights of the year will take a long look at this one.

It was in great contrast to the previous fight, in which Cuban veteran Guillermo Rigondeaux boxed and darted and stayed out of the heavy action against Drian Francisco of the Philippines.

Rigondeaux, a clever defensive fighter, won on a unanimous decision and Francisco ripped him afterward, calling him a dancer.

“I trained real hard for this fight,” Francisco said, “And it was a waste of time because I didn’t encounter a fighter.”