War or not, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Miguel Cotto expect historic battle

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez goes through a workout at a media event on Aug. 28, 2013, in Big Bear, Calif.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez goes through a workout at a media event on Aug. 28, 2013, in Big Bear, Calif.

(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Miguel Cotto’s body punching has broken several men.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s power punching has created 32 knockouts in 47 fights.

But those attributes were not the ones first listed by the fighters’ trainers, who projected what they see as the respective keys to victory in the Nov. 21 World Boxing Council middleweight title fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

“People say when you get older, you have to work harder. That’s not true. You just have to be smarter,” Cotto trainer Freddie Roach said Monday, up the street from his Wild Card Boxing Club, at a Hollywood & Highland news conference to promote the HBO pay-per-view bout.


“He will be elusive, I promise you. You’ll see a whole different guy for this fight.”

Tickets, priced from $150 to $2,000, go on sale Tuesday morning at 10 through Ticketmaster.

Puerto Rico’s Cotto (40-4, 33 knockouts) will turn 35 before the fight but he’s been revitalized since joining Roach, winning all three of their fights together, including last year’s victory over Sergio Martinez.

While Mexico’s Alvarez, 25, is coming off a destructive third-round knockout of James Kirkland in May, his co-trainer, Chepo Reynoso, said he’s not preparing his fighter to engage in another improvisational slugfest.


“Our strategy is to move a lot -- side to side -- to use angles, to win by boxing,” Reynoso said.

Few expect -- or want -- that to happen in the renewal of the decorated Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry.

“No fighter takes a step backward. You’ll see nonstop action from the opening bell,” promoter Oscar De La Hoya told the crowd at the news conference.

Cotto has been stopped only by Antonio Margarito in 2008 and Manny Pacquiao at his peak a year later. Alvarez has never been knocked down, withstanding a major blast to the jaw by Cotto’s brother, Jose Miguel Cotto, in Alvarez’s 2010 ninth-round technical knockout triumph.


“I don’t know with what kind of mind Canelo will come on the night of the fight, but I’m going to do my best with Freddie in the corner and no matter what kind of style I need to fight, I’m going to be the winner,” Cotto said. “When you put a Puerto Rican and Mexican in the ring, you’re going to see a great fight.”

Roach points to Cotto’s work ethic and ring intelligence as the edges that he expects to determine the outcome.

“I’ve liked this fight from day one -- the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry -- and I’ve said, ‘Whatever it takes to make this fight, make it happen,’ ” Roach said.

Cotto is also motivated by the thought that a victory makes him the best possible candidate to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year should Mayweather delay retirement after an expected Sept. 12 victory over Andre Berto.


“All that’s on my mind is Nov. 21 and attaining victory in that,” Cotto said. "[Mayweather] said he’s going to retire after this fight. I can’t look for something from someone who’ll be out of boxing.”

Cotto marked up Mayweather in their 2012 bout that ranks as one of the unbeaten fighter’s most difficult tests.

“He’ll deserve that, right?” Roach asked of Cotto.

Cotto manager Gaby Penagaricano said of the Mayweather prospect, “It’s always a very attractive fight and that rematch -- if it’s there -- will certainly be considered.”


While WBC Chairman Mauricio Sulaiman attended the news conference and noted his sanctioning body has ordered the Cotto-Alvarez winner to fight the winner of the Oct. 17 Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux fight, plenty of options loom for all involved.

First, the bout being touted as a strong fight-of-the-year candidate needs to transpire.

“It’s going to be historic,” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) said. “I feel the honor and pride of fighting for my country. Big responsibility. And the best thing I can do to honor that is prepare and win my fight.”

Alvarez said he’ll display his continued improvement from his September 2013 loss to Mayweather in the second-richest pay-per-view in the sport’s history.


“I’m a fighter who’s different. More mature, stronger, had some tough fights in between,” Alvarez said.

“Miguel Cotto is looking very good, very sharp ... he’s a great fighter, period.”

Alvarez dismissed the idea that being 10 years younger is his best advantage.

“It’s a 50-50 fight ... whoever prepares best is going to win the fight,” Alvarez said. “If I beat him, it’s the best thing for my career.”


Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire