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‘Canelo’ Alvarez is boxing’s leading man after win over Miguel Cotto

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will have time to sort out the details of whether he’ll keep his new World Boxing Council middleweight belt and fight Gennady Golovkin next.

What mattered more to Alvarez and his camp Saturday night following a convincing unanimous-decision victory over former four-division champion Miguel Cotto was summed up in one act on the stage for the post-fight news conference.

Instead of verbalizing an answer about what awaits in the future, Alvarez, 25, merely held up his arms and flexed his muscles.

He’s now the man in boxing.

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“The bottom line is we have ‘the guy.’ We have ‘the guy’ for many years, and it’s going to be a lot of fun putting together some big fights,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter.

By imposing his size and strength on Cotto (40-5), Alvarez (46-1-1) connected on 118 power punches to Cotto’s 75 and won the unanimous decision by scores of 117-111 (John McKaie), 119-109 (Dave Moretti) and 118-110 (Burt Clements).

The bout sold out Mandalay Bay’s 11,274 seats and De La Hoya expects in excess of 1 million pay-per-view buys for a breakthrough victory that showed Alvarez’s progress from his 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and a narrow split-decision win over Cuba’s Erislandy Lara last year.

“I wanted to leave no doubt — a clear victory,” Alvarez said afterward. “I feel like a more complete fighter, a more solid fighter and those other fighters prepared me for this moment. I’m ready.”

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Whether he’s immediately ready for the unbeaten Golovkin (34-0, 31 knockouts), who possesses the World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation middleweight belts and has knocked out 20 consecutive opponents, is undetermined.

A pre-fight agreement with the WBC leaves Alvarez with 15 days to either begin negotiations to fight mandatory challenger Golovkin or to surrender the belt.

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told The Times on Saturday that it’s possible another deal could be struck between the fighters, allowing Alvarez to postpone a Golovkin bout and retain the middleweight belt.

The two major deterrents in play for an immediate Golovkin match are Alvarez’s hesitation to agree to fight at a 160-pound limit after Saturday’s 155-pound catchweight fight, and concern that Golovkin, after drawing just 150,000 pay-per-view buys in October, is still building his brand.

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“It’s going to happen, don’t worry,” De La Hoya said of the Alvarez-Golovkin fight.

“Look, I can take a page from my mentor Bob Arum’s book and say, ‘Well, you’ve got to let it marinate,’ or I can go and say, ‘Let’s go! Let’s do it!’ ” De La Hoya said. “Let me talk to my team, let me talk to Canelo, discuss how he’s feeling … we don’t know, we’ll see.”

De La Hoya said he’ll seek to keep the WBC belt in Alvarez’s possession. “Fighters fight for belts,” De La Hoya said.

De La Hoya announced after the bout that Alvarez will fight in May and September of 2016, major Mexican holiday weekends.

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It seems like a remote possibility given his September retirement and pending 39th birthday in February, along with past friction with De La Hoya, but Mayweather could also be in play for Alvarez if he expresses any interest in a rematch. His father and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., watched the fight Saturday.

“Mayweather’s retired,” De La Hoya said. “If Mayweather decides to come back, Canelo Alvarez has May reserved and we would love to explore the option. I’m not going to initiate anything, but if he does want to come back and fight Canelo, this would be the fight.”


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