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Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
While Miguel Cotto did give away ten years in age and lose a unanimous decision to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas Saturday night on HBO, Cotto did demonstrate something in defeat which was still astounding and made for a phenomenal tactical war with Canelo. Cotto and trainer Freddie Roach did something right against Canelo other fighters have frequently missed. Cotto demonstrated superior footwork at the ‘super’ boxer level.
Others, like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley, Matthew Hatton, Lovemore Ndou, Lanardo Tyner, Larry Mosley, Carlos Jerez, Francisco Villanueva, Ricardo Cano, Cristian Solano, Miguel Vazquez (who went on to become world champion at 135 pounds) and Jorge Juarez (drew with Canelo), understood how to fight Canelo at distance range with superior footwork. Villanueva fought Canelo three times, and lost a split decision over ten rounds in 2008 in his third attempt, after previously getting knocked out and stopped by Canelo. Villanueva, an experienced journeyman won only 14 of 46 pro bouts. Jorge Juarez, a journeyman who won only eight of 31 bouts, drew with Canelo over four rounds early in his career by understanding the footwork concept.
Cotto landed 129 of 629 punches thrown for a 21 percent landing ratio. Canelo landed 155 of 484 punches thrown for a 43 percent landing ratio. Judge Dave Moretti gave Cotto only one round, the fourth round. General consensus gave Cotto either four or five rounds. A scorecard of 115-113, 116-112, or maybe 117-111 would have been more reasonable. It is obvious Canelo’s fame affected the scorecards, despite many boxing fans believing Cotto’s ring experience and personality would give him the scorecards-and not Canelo. Cotto was certainly the busier looking boxer, landing 54 of 374 jabs (14%) and 75 of 255 power shots (also 14%). Canelo landed 37 of 186 jabs (20%) and 118 of 298 power punches (40%). The high land rate of Canelo’s power shots, which Cotto took, enabled him to win rounds for judges looking for that type of fight from Canelo. Alvarez, Mayweather and Trout fought stick and move contests. One would have thought Cotto versus Alvarez would have been a toe-to-toe punching war, but it became clear after Cotto won the first round that Alvarez would pursue with power, and if Cotto stayed there he could not have survived Canelo’s power shot speed in an extended slugfest type of bout.
Cotto’s footwork was phenomenal. He fairly won at least three or four rounds. Scorecards of 119-109, 118-110, and 117-111 were ridiculously pro-Canelo, though nobody doubts he won. It would appear an opponent would have to be more famous than Floyd to get a fair shake on the scorecards against Canelo, or somebody at a slightly higher weight like Andre Ward might be able to knock Canelo out at 168 pounds if he moves up. Other than that, Canelo seems unbeatable. His fight with Floyd was more publicity and hype for the payday than a proper eight week training camp. No fighter would turn down the mega money to fight Floyd-no matter the conditions-to promote the bout-which affected Canelo’s training.
With Floyd out of the picture, Canelo is the big draw in the world at the moment. Canelo can opt tor GGG, or either of them can go after the winners of Danny Jacobs versus Peter Quillin, or the winner of Andy Lee versus Billy Jo Saunders. Cotto can comeback at either 154 or 160 pounds. For fighters like Cotto and Bernard Hopkins, the ring is timeless, but it would depend on which opponent they fight next if they do choose to fight again in 2016.
While Miguel Cotto’s footwork against Canelo was superior, Cotto-it must be understood-is strictly a puncher and not a chaser. Fighting Canelo obviously required major game plan adjustments few can ascend to. Cotto could not stand in front of Canelo and make the mistake others like James Kirkland have done. It is very tricky to try to outpoint Canelo on the move, while still creating angles and opportunities. Canelo’s power shot land accuracy is amazingly high, and remained so even while Cotto was rapidly moving and desperately trying to stay out of range.
The whole world was waiting for Canelo and Cotto to slug it out. Perhaps Cotto thought it was closer on the scorecards than it was. Cotto’s ‘Plan B’ would have been to stand and fight with Alvarez, but given Alvarez landed four power shots of every ten punches thrown, to one or two landed for every ten punches thrown by Cotto, Miguel realized ‘Plan B; was not an option beyond a certain point and stuck to the footwork, hoping for a lucky power shot opportunity. He did land some big shots here and there, but like GGG versus Daniel Geale, Canelo did not move. Cotto was in the house, but he could not shake Canelo, who applied pressure for all 12 rounds and had faster hand speed, and accuracy with power on his side. Cotto missed many of his own punches, and slipped many punches thrown by Alvarez. Cotto threw some good combinations when he had the chance, but it wasn’t often.
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