Other than the long-awaited Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao megafight on May 2, there is no doubt the biggest fight of 2015 will be between middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto and former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez, who meet on Nov. 21 (HBO PPV) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
They are two of boxing's biggest stars -- tickets sold out moments after they went on sale Tuesday -- and have regularly been involved in crowd-pleasing fights. Their showdown also represents another chapter in the storied history of the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry, one of the best in boxing.
"I'm Puerto Rican; Canelo is Mexican. The rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico is huge," Cotto said as they kicked off their four-city international promotional tour before a raucous crowd outdoors in downtown Los Angeles on Monday to hype a fight that doesn't lack for much of it. "It's history. There's a lot of history behind it, and we're going to contribute to that."
Alvarez also spoke of the rivalry between the countries.
"There's a great history between Mexico and Puerto Rico, and this is going to be an historic fight, another one for the storybooks," Alvarez said. "I have a lot of pride to be fighting for my country. It's going to be a great fight. I want this to be an historic fight.
"I'm honored to be fighting a true warrior. It's an honor, and I'm going to prepare very well because I want to win this fight."
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez, promised the fight would deliver far more excitement than the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout some decried as a dud.
"Boxing fans across the globe are waiting for a fight. It's no secret that people were disappointed by May 2. The global fight community will be reignited by this fight," De La Hoya said. "This will be one of the most exciting matchups. If I had to link this to one of my own fights, I would say that it is like my fight with [Fernando] Vargas. The same energy and passion will be evident here."
Cotto and Alvarez will fight at a catchweight of 155 pounds, as Cotto makes his second title defense. He knocked out Sergio Martinez in the 10th round of a surprisingly one-sided fight to win the world title in June 2014. Cotto took a year off and then returned on June 6 to pummel former titlist Daniel Geale in a fourth-round knockout victory.
With the Alvarez fight in demand by the public and media, the 34-year-old Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs) took his time to make the deal, getting almost everything he demanded, including the lion's share of the money and the weight he wanted to fight at.
He made no apologies for exerting the leverage he had as champion.
"I'm not here asking for any sympathy. Nobody gave me anything to be here," Cotto said. "I earned what I have in life, and I will keep working hard as usual to get the victory on Nov. 21.
"I have my eye on my career and this is the best fight for my career right now, so I'm ready to do what needs to be done to be on top."
Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs), 25, has won three fights in a row since a one-sided loss to Mayweather in September 2013 in the second-biggest grossing fight in boxing history behind only Mayweather-Pacquiao. He plowed his way into the fight with Cotto by scoring a sensational third-round knockout of James Kirkland on May 9 before some 30,000 fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
De La Hoya said Alvarez wants the same outcome against Cotto.
"Canelo doesn't want to prove anything here. He just wants to knock Cotto out," De La Hoya said.
Cotto trainer Freddie Roach was a man of few words but did what he usually does -- predict a KO win for his man.
"We have hard preparation ahead of us, but we will be ready and Cotto will win by knockout," Roach said.
Alvarez didn't go so far as to predict a knockout. That is not his style, or Cotto's.
"I don't like to predict knockouts, but I'm going to be ready for this fight. I will be well-prepared," Alvarez said. "I'm a stronger, more mature fighter. For me, the time is right for this. I'm going to prepare the best I ever have. I want to be ready for this fight and I want to win because, like every Mexican, we come here to be victorious, and I'm one of those Mexicans, and on Nov. 21 we will win.
"I think I'm a complete fighter now. I have the experience now, I have the strength, the speed and that's why I'm so confident I'll win this fight. [Cotto is] a great fighter. He's won it all. That motivates me."