If you mention the sport of boxing to most casual sports fans these days you’ll need to prepare yourself for an earful about the disappointing Mayweather – Pacquiao match up from last May. However, for most diehard fans of the sweet science, the expected shootout in Las Vegas tonight is by far the most mouthwatering event scheduled in the last few years.
Mayweather .vs. Pacquiao may have garnered the most hype, but it will by no means be the most revered. It arrived five years too late. Manny Pacquiao entered the fight injured and hadn’t produced a knockout in over half a decade. Therefore, it was up to Mayweather to make an exciting fight which was unlikely to happen. He didn’t. As a result, over four and half million viewers were left devastated and disappointed. The dissatisfaction scarred boxing’s health and most likely turned away many potential fans of the sport for years. Nonetheless, if four and half million fans were by some chance persuaded to tune into tonight’s Middleweight Championship between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez, the sport of boxing would almost certainly be saved.
Tonight’s matchup in Las Vegas is that good. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has scored knockouts in two of his last three fights, the most recent being a devastating thrashing of a game James Kirkland. On the flip side, Miguel Cotto has scored knockouts in all three of his most recent fights. Mix that up with a legendary Mexico .vs. Puerto Rico rivalry and you have fireworks in the forecast just before midnight eastern time tonight.
Great fights have always been about great timing. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao would have surely produced fireworks back in 2010. By 2015 however, the perfect storm had subsided. This is not the case for Cotto and Canelo. Canelo Alvarez is in his prime. At 25 years of age, he is the archetypal example of, not only a fighter in his prime, but also a superbly conditioned athlete. He is young enough to be in peek shape but old enough to warrant the experience needed to fight successfully in a championship fight. He now possesses the ring familiarity he lacked two years ago when he was matched against Floyd Mayweather, complemented by the strength of a man in the prime of his life. He is a true contender to the crown. Then there is Cotto.
Miguel Cotto is a decade older at 35. Yet, he is the lineal Middleweight Champion of the World. Through the tutelage of new trainer Freddie Roach, his career has experienced a renaissance. The errors of yesteryear have been trimmed away, and his arsenal is polished as he looks to continue to cement what has now become a Hall of Fame worthy career. He carries significant momentum coming into tonight’s fight.
Then there is the style match up. Both Cotto and Canelo are fighters. They have a combined total of 65 knockouts in their highly credentialed careers. In fact, both have earned higher knockout percentages than Floyd Mayweather and even Manny Pacquiao. Still, it is what is at stake that may be of most significance.
At this point in their careers, a loss would most certainly be devastating to either fighter. Another potential marquee payout against the emerging Gennady Golovkin looms for the winner as well as pound for pound recognition. The winner of tonight’s fight will be embraced by budding opportunities, while the loser will be left with lesser options. Both fighters are well aware of this certainty. Additionally, each fighter’s current status as the marquee combatant for their own ethnic followings, Cotto’s Puerto Rican audience and Canelo’s Mexican audience, will surely be challenged if presented with a loss by the opposing rival. Much is at stake tonight and the expected raucous audience at the Mandalay Bay Casino will only add to the enthusiasm.
Unfortunately however, four and half million viewers will not tune into tonight’s fight. The attraction will draw a sizeable pay per view audience due to the diehard Mexican American and Puerto Rican audience each fighter is supported by as they ready themselves for the ring. Still, it will be mostly die hard ethnic fans that are already attracted to boxing. Nevertheless, should the casual fan decide to give the fight game one final glimpse, memories of Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao would be eradicated forever.