Sunday, November 22, 2015
Canelo Alvarez: Demolition Man Beats the Great Miguel Cotto
The Canelo Alvarez v. Miguel Cotto fight is now history, though the dust of history has not yet settled. People are still talking about it, offering various versions of it, but the judge’s decisions were unanimous. The only viable issue is whether the score was as lopsided in favor of Canelo as the judge’s cards had it.
Let me say, first of all, that I called the winner right but didn’t expect the fight to go all twelve rounds. My prediction was that Cotto would get stopped by the 8th or 9th round. That appeared to be the case for a moment in the 8th but Cotto was durable, determined, and undaunted. He survived the round and fought back, and had his moments even in the later rounds. Give Cotto A plus for durability and a heart which has never been questioned. Neither his chin.
Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach, held in the press conference (Cotto did not attend) that he believed his fighter had accumulated enough points. That version was born out while the fight was in progress as the HBO pundits talked to him about how Cotto was doing. Roach did seem unruffled and appeared confident Cotto was eluding punches, moving, pivoting off into angles, and never getting pinned on the ropes. There were other people on the social networks who thought the same thing.
What it comes down to is that there are two way of looking at a fight.
One way takes its measure from amateur boxing. In that view, all scoring punches count, and the strategy is to land as many as you can. Cotto did that – he fired off lots of punches, with some landing solid, but most just touching Alvarez. Observers noted that Canelo was able to “walk through them” which wasn’t always the case. Cotto landed some hard shots, none of which rocked or stalled the young warrior opposed to him. But a great number of Cotto’s punches, delivered in fast combinations, after which he moved away as instructed, were really ineffective. So people who counted those as scoring punches tended to think the judges tilted the scorecards toward Canelo Alvarez.
The other way of looking at a fight is in the old-school style of which I am myself an adherent. You look at the whole of the thing, the damage done. There was no doubt that Canelo was landing punches that rocked Cotto’s world. The damage was evident on Cotto’s face after the fight, and though cuts and bruises and swellings are often greater on the winner than on the loser, Cotto seemed to have lost both ways.
I liked what Cotto was doing and I still think that there is reason to say he is the better boxer of the two men. This is to say his experience shows in versatility.
That is not to say that Canelo is a poor boxer by any means. It amazed me the way he slipped punches, moved his upper body, and blocked shots. He was very impressive defensively. As for the offense, he wasn’t going to pitty-pat. He knew and his trainers knew he was the stronger. He was going for the demolition. Seeing that Cotto put his head down (calculating Alvarez’ feet and body movement), Alvarez’ uppercuts were explosive, sometimes followed with right hands over the top. Alvarez was doing the demolition derby kind of thing that he knew would win the day. He had only to throw three punches: the uppercut, a right hand up top, and that tremendous right hand body shot which slammed too many times into Cotto’s ribs.