Cotto, Alvarez fighting for pride over titles

Lineal middleweight champion Miguel Cotto will face Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. After Cotto refused to pay a sanctioning fee for his WBC title, it will only be on the line for Alvarez.

The superfight will be the most recent installment of the long-standing boxing rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Here are some of the top things to know about the fight from ESPN Stats & Information:

Puerto Rico vs. Mexico

The Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry started in 1934 when bantamweight Sixto Escobar became Puerto Rico's first world champion when he scored a ninth-round knockout of legendary Mexican Rodolfo "Baby" Casanova in Montreal. During the past 80 years, many fights have contributed to the legacy of Puerto Rican and Mexican warriors inside the ring. This will be the first middleweight title fight in boxing history to feature a Puerto Rican fighter, Cotto, fighting a Mexican fighter, Alvarez.

Cotto comes into the bout 8-1 against Mexican fighters in his career, losing in 2008 to Antonio Margarito. He defeated Margarito in a 2011 rematch by 10th-round TKO. Alvarez has not seen the rivalry to the extent of Cotto, fighting only two Puerto Rican fighters in his 47-bout career. But Alvarez has done something that Cotto has not: defeating his opponent's family member. In May 2010, Alvarez defeated Cotto's older brother Jose Miguel Cotto by 9th-round TKO. Alvarez also defeated Kermit Cintron by 5th-round TKO in November 2011.

Alvarez's size and power

Canelo is expected to bulk up to around 170 pounds after Friday's weigh-in from the contracted weight of 155 pounds. In his past three fights, Alvarez has gained an average of 15.3 pounds before the fight began. Despite becoming the middleweight champion, Cotto has never fought at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds.

Alvarez is most effective with power punches. In his past five fights, 74 percent of Alvarez's landed punches were power shots. He connects on 49 percent of his power punches -- the third-highest rate in boxing according to CompuBox rankings and 13 percentage points above the middleweight average.

Cotto better with Roach

Cotto switched trainers in 2013 to Freddie Roach, seven-time Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) Trainer of the Year, who is most known for working with Manny Pacquiao. The results have been career-changing for 35-year-old Cotto.

After losing back-to-back fights in 2012, Cotto has had three consecutive wins by knockout after switching to Roach. He has landed 49 percent of his punches, compared to 29 percent for his opponents, and outlanded his opponents on average 112-50. Cotto has nearly doubled his connect percentage since the switch; throwing four fewer punches per round (43) and landing nine more (21).

Fighting styles

In his past three fights, Cotto has landed 68 percent of his connected punches to his opponents' head. Against Sergio Martinez, Cotto landed 78 percent of his punches to Martinez's head, including three first-round knockdowns.

Alvarez implored different strategies in his past three fights. Against power punchers James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo, Álvarez landed an average of 80 percent of his connected punches to his opponents' head. In his fight against the quicker Erislandy Lara, Alvarez landed 75 percent of his punches to the body.

Both fighters fight in the orthodox stance (left foot forward), but they fight with different styles. Cotto landed 66 percent of punches to the right side of opponents, meaning he's much more likely to use his jab and left hook against opponents. Alvarez uses both hands almost evenly, landing 52 percent to the left side and 48 percent to the right.


Cotto won the middleweight title in 2014 from Martinez, becoming the only Puerto Rican fighter in boxing history to win world titles in four different weight classes. If Cotto wins Saturday, he would tie Felix Trinidad and Wilfredo Gomez for the most title-fight wins by a Puerto Rican Fighter. If he stops the fight via knockout, he would break a tie with Trinidad for the second-most knockouts by any Puerto Rican in title fights behind Gomez (18).

With a win, Alvarez would become the second Mexican fighter in boxing history to win a world title at middleweight. There have been only five Mexican champions at middleweight or junior middleweight in the past 10 years. Alvarez would become the 14th fighter and first Mexican-born fighter to win titles at junior middleweight and middleweight. Alvarez would join a list that includes Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya and his opponent Cotto.

Cotto will not be fighting for the WBC title since he vacated his belt earlier this week when he declined to pay the $300,000 sanctioning fee. If Alvarez wins the fight and the belt he will be required to face interim champion Gennady Golovkin. If he declines, he will forfeit the title and the WBC will award GGG with the full title. If Cotto wins the fight, Golovkin will be awarded the WBC title.