The long wait is finally over for Saul Alvarez, who this past weekend defeated Miguel Cotto and won a middleweight championship. While Cotto, at 35, must reassess his career and reconsider his next move, there won’t be much change in his immediate future. Having already reached his peak in the sport and enjoyed multiple high-level showdowns, Cotto’s only option was to strategically pick fights that would enhance his legacy until he met opposition he couldn’t handle. Alvarez, as many fans expected, turned out to be that opposition. Cotto fought well and, as famed trainer Freddie Roach promised, his legs were a great asset. Alvarez was more accurate, powerful and had faster hands and head movement than Cotto. Using his slick style, (only evident against certain opponents) Alvarez was able to execute Mayweather-esque moves, landing shots while almost simultaneously slipping one from his opponent.
If Cotto had won, on the other hand, Alvarez is the only person who would have been significantly affected. With abundant criticism of his unbelievably one-sided loss to Mayweather, and even of his wins over top, but not elite-level opponents, Alvarez needed to prove that he wasn’t just a gatekeeper at 154 pounds. Given his size (he routinely rehydrates to the size of a super middleweight), Alvarez needed to make a big statement in the division before time ran out and making weight cost him his ability in the ring. Cotto, being a key name in the sport, presented the perfect opportunity. Alvarez is now recognized as one of the top fighters in the sport both for skill and entertainment value, and with Mayweather’s transition to retirement, the new star is right on time.
This weekend we can look forward to seeing Wladimir Klitschko face an opponent of similar size, if not similar talent, in Tyson Fury, whose most famed accomplishment in boxing so far has been punching himself in the face. His shameful ranting and immature antics (dressing up as Batman at a press conference) have made this the most interesting Klitschko fight I can remember since Vitali fought Lennox Lewis. Let’s be honest, we all wanted to see David Haye knocked out, but it wouldn’t have been quite as satisfying as seeing an enormous man, actually larger than Klitschko this time and even with some distinguishable talent, shut up for once and all. We have all that to look forward to, AND a big meal. Happy Thanksgiving.
I also want to highlight the success of my former trainer Mike Tata, whose Friday Night Fights Gym in New Orleans has been featured in Sports Illustrated and is enjoying considerable success after a humble beginning.