Friday, December 09, 2022  |

News

Cotto-Canelo: THE RING’s head-to-head analysis

20
Nov
Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Photo: Naoki Fukuda

Note: This feature initially appeared in the December issue of Ring Magazine

SUPER CLOSE
SUPER BOUT

It goes without saying that the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez showdown is a major boxing event given the popularity of both fighters and the storied national rivalry they bring to the ring.

However, the middleweight championship is also an even-money crossroads bout and one of the best stylistic matchups that could be made in any division. The Puerto Rican champ and Mexican challenger have many of the same attributes – accurate power punching, brute strength, patience and poise – and each is able to counter the other’s advantages.



Cotto has the edge in experience, technique and versatility but Alvarez is the bigger, younger and fresher fighter. The checks and balances beg many questions:

Cotto is almost 10 years older but how much wear and tear is in those extra years? Alvarez has 45 bouts under his belt but how much quality is in his pro experience? Can Cotto take a page from Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s book and befuddle Alvarez with lateral movement? Can Alvarez force Cotto into a battle of attrition as Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao did? How much does Freddie Roach bring to Cotto’s game?

It’s a fight that may come down to intangibles.

But here’s how Cotto and Alvarez match up in 20 categories, with each fighter rated on a scale of 0 to 5. (A score of 100 would denote the perfect fighter.)

HAND SPEED

Cotto – 3.5

Canelo – 3.0

Cotto’s slightly better reflexes, sharper technique and expert timing help his punches land a little bit quicker than Canelo’s.

FOOTWORK

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 3.5

Cotto is known as a seek-and-destroy fighter but he can be light on his feet and his stick-and-move game has always been world class. Canelo is often stationary.

POWER (LEAD HAND)

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 4.0

Cotto is a converted southpaw so his jab and hook have always been heavy. Canelo has excellent leverage with his left and his greater size makes his power equal to Cotto’s.

POWER (TRAIL HAND)

Cotto – 3.5

Canelo – 4.0

Both fighters carry significant “pop” in their right hands. Canelo commits more to his right than Cotto does.

JAB

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 3.5

Canelo has a good jab when he uses it but he sometimes neglects this basic punch. Cotto uses it more often and to good effect.

HOOK

Cotto – 4.5

Canelo – 4.5

Cotto’s hook is textbook, delivered with near-perfect technique and timing. Thus, it lands with a lot of power. Canelo’s hook is not as crisp as Cotto’s but it’s thrown with more leverage and often doubled up to the body and head.

CROSS/UPPERCUT

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 4.5

Both fighters pack a lot of power in their crosses and uppercuts but Canelo uses these two punches very well (especially in combination) and loads up more with them.

BODY PUNCHING

Cotto – 4.5

Canelo – 4.5

Body punching was once Cotto’s bread and butter. Under Roach, it has resurfaced as a major part of his arsenal. Canelo also does a lot of damage with his relentless body attack. Both mix body shots into their combinations very well.

INFIGHTING SKILLS

Cotto – 4.5

Canelo – 4.5

Both fighters are very comfortable – and extremely dangerous – when engaging in close.

ATHLETICISM

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 4.0

Both are strong, durable fighters with very good reflexes and hand-eye coordination. However, neither has elite-level speed.

ENDURANCE

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 3.5

Canelo’s endurance has been questioned for years, which is a little strange given that he has gone the 12-round distance eight times, losing only to Mayweather. Still, Cotto is viewed as more proven in this area.

ABILITY TO SLIP AND BLOCK

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 4.0

Both fighters are competent (but not special) defensively, utilizing head- and upper-body movement and blocking to avoid punches.

PHYSICAL CONDITION

Cotto – 4.0

Canelo – 4.0

Both fighters are consummate professionals when it comes to their preparation. They train to get the most out of their strength, stamina and accuracy.

POISE AND ABILITY TO COPE WITH EXTERNAL PRESSURES

Cotto – 5.0

Canelo – 5.0

Both were groomed for the spotlight from Day One. Cotto was a 2000 Olympian. Canelo has been on a fast track since turning pro at 15. The two have headlined a combined 12 pay-per-view events going into their Nov. 21 showdown.

KILLER INSTINCT

Cotto – 5.0

Canelo – 5.0

Both fighters are offensive boxers by nature. Both seek the knockout and both know when (and how) to close the show.

INTELLIGENCE AND STRATEGIC DEXTERITY

Cotto – 4.5

Canelo – 4.0

Both fighters are boxer-punchers, thinking aggressors. Cotto is more versatile than Canelo and a little more polished.

CHIN AND RESILIENCE

Cotto – 3.5

Canelo – 4.5

Cotto has been in many ring wars, including two late stoppages (to Margarito and Pacquiao). That wear and tear detracts from his durability and punch resistance. Canelo has never been down or beat up in any of his fights.

EXPERIENCE

Cotto – 5.0

Canelo – 4.5

Canelo is as experienced as a 25-year-old prize fighter can be but Cotto (who had a stellar amateur career) has put together a Hall of Fame resume during his 15-year pro career.

QUALITY OF OPPONENTS

Cotto – 5.0

Canelo – 4.5

Again, Canelo’s opposition is nothing to sneeze at. The young star has faced eight world titleholders during his 10-year pro career, including the pound-for-pound king and Erislandy Lara. However, Cotto has faced 19 titleholders, including Mayweather, Sergio Martinez, Margarito and still-dangerous versions of Shane Mosley and Zab Judah.

CORNER

Cotto – 5.0

Canelo – 4.0

Team Canelo includes the very successful and experienced father-and-son team of Jose and Edison Reynoso. However, Cotto’s coach, Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, is arguably the most successful active trainer in boxing.

TOTAL:

Cotto – 85.5

Canelo – 83.0

SUMMARY AND PREDICTION:

Fans will not be disappointed with this “super bout.” Cotto and Canelo will set a brisk and aggressive tempo and both will take chances. It will be a nip-and-tuck battle that mixes boxing with brawling but this is one of the rare occasions when the fighter with the lower Head-to-Head score prevails. Canelo’s combination punching and ability to incur less damage during infighting will gradually wear Cotto down over the distance.

Canelo will win a close but deserved decision in a grueling and entertaining fight.