Middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and former unified junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez square off in their highly anticipated showdown on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and everyone, of course, has an opinion on the big fight.
But those whose views should be heeded the most are probably the fighters who have shared the ring with both of them. After all, they have seen what each brings to the table as up close as it gets.
Cotto and Alvarez have faced five common opponents: Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Alfonso Gomez and Lovemore Ndou.
Cotto is 3-2 against them. He lost a decision to Mayweather, whom he gave a tough fight to in a 2012 junior middleweight title fight, and a decision to Trout in his next bout, also a junior middleweight title fight.
Alvarez is 4-1 against them, having also lost to Mayweather in a one-sided junior middleweight title fight in 2013 that was, at the time, the highest-grossing fight in boxing history.
ESPN.com spoke with Trout and Gomez, who gave their views on Cotto and Alvarez and how they think the fight might play out.
Against Cotto: He won a clear unanimous decision to retain his junior middleweight world title in a major upset on Dec. 1, 2012 on Cotto's turf at Madison Square Garden in New York. Trout, a southpaw, gave Cotto all kinds of trouble with his movement and outboxed him with relative ease to win on scores of 119-109, 117-111 and 117-111.
Against Alvarez: In the fight after defeating Cotto, Trout met Alvarez on April 20, 2013, in a junior middleweight title unification fight before some 40,000 fans -- nearly all cheering for Mexican hero Alvarez -- at the Alamodome in San Antonio. It was a good, competitive fight, but Alvarez knocked Trout down in the seventh round and won by unanimous decision 118-109, 116-111 and 115-112.
Breakdown: "When the fight was made, I was like a lot of boxing fans -- I was excited. Both of their styles match up in a fan-friendly way. That was my first reaction -- that's a good fight. I'm gonna watch that fight," Trout said.
"Cotto is good, really good, but Canelo is younger, stronger and bigger. I give Canelo the edge in power, and he is still coming into his man strength. He was the first person to put me down. I believe Canelo is stronger and Cotto has been in more wars and that could be a factor. Canelo's punches are a little slow, but Cotto can keep that quickness through the combination. But I think they are pretty similar as far as speed goes."
Trout also weighed in on their defense and movement.
"Cotto has better footwork, and his in-and-out game is pretty nice," Trout said. "Canelo made me miss a lot. He has better head movement than Cotto. Cotto keeps his hands up, but Canelo has the better head movement."
The fight is at a catchweight of 155 pounds, but Trout said he does not think that benefits either man in a significant way. Alvarez's previous three bouts were also at 155 pounds, and 155 is the most Cotto has ever weighed, which was for his middleweight title victory against Sergio Martinez in June 2014.
"The weight doesn't benefit either guy I don't think, unless Canelo has a hard time making it because he is growing," Trout said. "He had a hard time making the weight for the [James] Kirkland fight [in May]. I heard he had some trouble, but with Cotto it's no issue. I don't think it's really an issue for either guy."
Trout said he is rooting Cotto but picking Alvarez.
"I want Cotto to win because if he wins it makes me look better," he said. "But taking myself out of it, he's fought the best of the best, and it would be nice to see a living legend with a huge win over Canelo. Canelo, even if he loses, still has time to make his legacy. But I think Canelo will win. Cotto has been through the wars and taken beatings through the years -- hard, hard fights against guys like Mosley, [Zab] Judah, [Manny] Pacquiao, [Antonio] Margarito. I hope he proves me wrong because I'm rooting for him.
"Cotto might be like the dying tiger who is dangerous. If he has that dying tiger mentality, it might be fight of the year and he might even pull it off -- take Canelo into deep waters, where Canelo is known to gas out a little bit. But Canelo could stop Cotto on cuts. Canelo could catch him with one punch, but Cotto's experience will get him to the later rounds, and he will make it interesting. If Canelo wins it's by stoppage. If Cotto wins it's by decision."
Against Cotto: Gomez had the misfortune of meeting Cotto at the apex of his career. He was coming off two of his biggest wins in welterweight title defenses, an 11th-round knockout of Judah and a hard-fought unanimous decision against Mosley, when he defended his title against Gomez on April 12, 2008, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cotto, whose next fight was a knockout loss to Margarito in their controversial first fight, walked through the overmatched Gomez and knocked him out in the fifth round.
Against Alvarez: Six fights after the loss to Cotto, Gomez moved up to junior middleweight to challenge Alvarez for his world title on Sept. 17, 2011. Alvarez knocked Gomez down in the first round and stopped him in the sixth round of a one-sided fight.
Breakdown:"I think it will be a very interesting fight because both have the punch," Gomez said. "I believe that Miguel Cotto has better accuracy with his punches. When I fought him, what I remember besides him hitting hard is he is very precise with his punches. He doesn't waste any punches. He's very efficient. Canelo's punches were very strong as well, but they were everywhere. They were also very effective but not as accurate as Cotto's. In the ring, Cotto is a little more poised. He takes his time, studies his opponent, and Canelo is a little more in a hurry to take care of business. I'm not sure if that will play a role in their fight but it could if Canelo is wild."
Gomez thinks perhaps Alvarez's youth -- he's 10 years younger than the 35-year-old Cotto -- and perceived hunger could be a factor in the fight.
"It seems like Cotto is very satisfied with where he's at and what he's accomplished: first Puerto Rican to win titles in four divisions, all the big fights and money," Gomez said. "The way he fights now he is just there to collect. He's accomplished what he needs to accomplish. He looks like he's satisfied -- champion, Olympian. The way Canelo fights, he fights like he still has something to prove. I think that might play a role in the fight.
"Canelo is also fresher, and it makes a difference. But Cotto has the experience and confidence. He's thinking, 'I know things they don't.' Cotto fights like he's so comfortable in the ring. Not nervous, not in a hurry, picks the opponent apart, disposes of them. When you're younger, you're anxious, don't know what's going to happen, want to prove something. When you've already proved it and you're comfortable and relaxed like Cotto, it's another day at the office. It makes your mind clear; you see things better; you unleash your plan better."
Gomez said Alvarez was the bigger puncher.
"The power, I would lean more towards Canelo," Gomez said. "He's a bigger guy. But Cotto knows how to place his punches very well. Defensively, Miguel Cotto is harder to hit. But Canelo I think is faster. I didn't even see the punches from Canelo. He was able to drop me with jab and a body shot. I thought I was doing better with Canelo than I was with Cotto. I have to take into account that coming into the Cotto fight I had a broken left hand that hadn't healed properly from my fight before that against Ben Tackie. It was hard to hit Cotto and to get my distance against him.
"With Canelo, I trained hard for that fight. I thought the referee stopped it prematurely. Canelo wasn't hard to hit, but he got me with a good shot."
As for who will come out on top Saturday, Gomez said it could go either way.
"You have the young, hungrier lion Canelo trying to still prove something. But you also have the guys who's more experienced, who also has the power and accuracy who has been there many times," Gomez said. "It's a toss-up for me. It could go either way.
"Miguel Cotto has a good shot since Canelo opens up when he throws those big punches, and he leaves his chin out there and with Cotto's precise punching he might have a chance to drop Canelo. But you're also talking about the bigger, hungry lion in Canelo with something to prove."