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Cotto-Canelo headlines a great second half of 2015

Sometimes you really do get everything you want as a boxing fan. It’s rare, I know.

After months of anticipation and speculation, middleweight champion Miguel Cotto announced Thursday that he will indeed square off with Canelo Alvarez on Nov. 21 (HBO PPV) in a 155-pound catchweight bout in Las Vegas.

You want a real superfight that just about guarantees action and intrigue? This is the one.

It’s Puerto Rico vs. Mexico, the greatest rivalry in boxing. It’s also a crossroads fight between two of the sport’s biggest brands, pitting a rejuvenated Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs) at 34 years old against the 25-year-old Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs).

Contested for Cotto’s lineal title at 160 pounds -- one of boxing’s few remaining glamour titles -- this fight is a big deal for casual and hard-core observers alike.

More importantly, it restores goodwill and faith for fans after the hangover from Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in May, showing just how special 2015 could turn out to be. That’s because Cotto-Canelo is essentially the crown jewel of an absolutely loaded fall schedule.

If 2015 proves to be as entertaining inside the ring as advertised, much of the credit will go to the launch of Al Haymon’s "Premier Boxing Champions" series for providing consistent and quality fight cards across multiple networks, much of the time on free TV.

But a boxing year can be truly special only if big fights are made -- the kind that build enough momentum and buzz to offset the slower months in between. With Cotto-Canelo, Gennady Golovkin-David Lemieux (Oct. 17, HBO PPV) and Wladimir Klitschko-Tyson Fury (Oct. 24, HBO), a few building blocks are already in place.

It only gets better with the much-maligned yet important Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto (Sept. 12, Showtime PPV), the under-the-radar Lucas Matthysse-Viktor Postol (Oct. 3, HBO) and the all-action Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares (Aug. 29, PBC on ESPN).

What’s that? You want a fun #OldGuyFight to boot? Boxing has that covered as well, with the guilty pleasure of the Shane Mosley-Ricardo Mayorga rematch (Aug. 29, PPV).

Finally, consider that most of the big names at welterweight will be coming back over the final three months of the year looking for marquee bouts -- Keith Thurman, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley Jr., Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Danny Garcia, etc. -- and you’ll realize quickly that the second half of 2015 has the potential to be special.

And that’s something to get excited about.

Mayweather-Pacquiao may not have come close to living up to its overwhelming level of hype, but we still saw it after years of infuriating delay. It drew an astounding 4.4 million pay-per-view buys, was the No. 1 story in all of sports, and produced a clear winner free of any controversy.

Boxing sure as heck ain’t dead. But it needed Cotto-Canelo in 2015 as the true second-half anchor; a virtual 50-50 fight at the highest level and the best fight on paper we will see this year.

If the PBC helped bring boxing back to the masses on network TV, and if Mayweather-Pacquiao reminded people just how much fun the buildup to a major fight can be, Cotto-Canelo has the ability to change the opinion of would-be boxing fans for good.

I know, optimism has never been the boxing fan’s strongest characteristic (and with good reason). But the next few months offer fans of all kinds something to get excited for. So sit back and savor the flavor.