Alvarez stops Cotto in ninth round
LAS VEGAS – Mexican prospect Saul “Canelo” Alvarez made a good impression in his first appearance on a major pay-per-view card. But not without a scary moment.
Alvarez survived a pounding in the opening round and went on to stop Jose Miguel Cotto at 2:51 of the ninth round in a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley undercard Saturday.
Alvarez, only 19, is popular in his country in part because of his striking red hair and exciting fighting style. However, he had never faced anyone of Cotto’s stature — solid, but not elite – and had not fought in such a high-profile environment.
And his big night almost ended in disaster, as Cotto, the brother of Miguel Cotto, trapped Alvarez against the ropes and landed some hellacious shots in the first round. Alvarez seemed to be serious trouble but, demonstrating his mettle, withstood the barrage.
He then went to work breaking down his foe with controlled aggression. The end was dramatic. Alvarez (32-0-1, 24 knockouts) had a tired Cotto (31-2-1, 23 KOs) pinned against the ropes and landed a flurry of hard, mostly unanswered punches when the referee saved Cotto from further punishment by stopping the fight.
Alvarez looked mature beyond his years.
“It was just a matter of time,” he said. “The first round was a little scary but I gained confidence as the rounds went on. Fighting in Las Vegas was a great atmosphere. I want to come here and fight again soon.
“This is the first time Cotto has been knocked out because this is the first time he has fought anyone as tough as me.”
In other fights, former junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon (39-2, 32 KOs) of Mexico defeated Cornelius Lock (19-5-1, 12 KOs) of Detroit by a unanimous decision in a 10-round featherweight fight.
Lock rallied in the last few rounds but came up short on the cards, 96-94, 97-93 and 96-94 in De Leon’s favor. Lock won the last three rounds on all three cards.
“It was very difficult fight,” De Leon said. “But I did my best. I knew I won all the rounds in the beginning so I kept my composure until the end.”
And Said Ouali, a prospect from Morocco who lives in Las Vegas, stopped Hector Saldivia of Argentina at 1:47 of the first round of a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout.
Saldivia (31-2, 24 KOs) knocked Ouali (27-3, 18 KOs) only seconds into the fight. However, Ouali, only slightly hurt, returned the favor two fold. He put Saldivia down twice, the second time hurting him so badly that he couldn’t continue.