In an action-packed PPV at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto added to the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry and although it didn’t quite live up to expectations it still delivered good action.
As it turned out, the Takashi Miura vs Francisco Vargas bout proved to be not only the best fight of the night, but possibly the best of the year.
Miura (29-3-2, 22KO) looked to make the 5th defense of his WBC super featherweight (130 Ibs.) against rising prospect Francisco Vargas (23-0-1, 17KO) by knockout.
However, it was Vargas who landed the hard shots early as a straight right hand in the very first round buckled Miura’s knees and nearly sent him to the canvas. Miura managed to stay on his feet and absorb punishment without getting knocked down, but Vargas made his point.
Vargas continued to land good hooks and straight rights on Miura, who showed virtually no head movement as he simply took the blows and tried to land his powerful left hand on Vargas. Miura took the punches better in the 2nd round and the fight shifted to a more even bout.
Miura’s relentlessness finally paid at the end of the 4th round as a straight left put Vargas on the canvas for the first knockdown of the fight. Vargas was clearly hurt, but with little time left for Miura to finish the job Vargas survived the round.
Surprisingly, Vargas recovered and won the 5th round by throwing and landing more shots than the champion. Miura got too left-hand happy and tried to end the fight with the same punch that earned him a knockdown in the previous round. This allowed Vargas to get back into the fight as Miura’s attack became predictable.
Both fighters landed and took hard shots in rounds 6-8 and another straight left momentarily wobbled Vargas at the end of the 8th round. Once again, Vargas managed to burn the clock before Miura could follow up.
Vargas came out aggressively in the 9th round and it paid off tremendously for him. He hurt Miura badly with a left hand uppercut followed by a right hand to put the champion down for the first time in the fight. Miura rose and tried to hold to survive the round, but Vargas kept landing vicious shots on Miura which prompted the referee to halt the bout. Vargas is the new WBC super featherweight champion and a rematch with Miura or a unification bout with WBA champion Takashi Uchiyama would be exciting matchups.
The fight is a contender for Fight of the Year as well as Knockout of the Year.
In the main event, Canelo Alvarez (46-1-1, 32KO) and Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33KO) looked to create history by giving their take on the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing rivalry. Cotto’s RING Magazine middleweight (160 Ibs.) belt was on the line.
The fight started with Cotto on the move and Canelo stalking. Cotto won the 1st round based on activity, but Canelo landed a solid right hand toward the end of the round. This would come to define the fight as it became a war between Cotto’s superior footspeed and Canelo’s crisper punches.
The first six rounds were even as Cotto kept on the move and landed solid jabs while Canelo attacked in spots and landed the cleaner blows. Cotto’s defense troubled Canelo at times, but each time Canelo did connect it was a solid shot.
The second half of the fight slowly shifted towards Canelo’s favor, but each time it seemed Canelo began to take total control of the bout Cotto fought back and managed to evade Canelo just enough to avoid serious punishment.
The 8th and 12th rounds were Canelo’s as he landed hard blows throughout those rounds. However, he never seriously hurt Cotto and it was only during the 12th round when Cotto’s skin began to break-up from the blows he absorbed. When the final bell rang, both fighters raised their hands as they were confident they had won.
The judges scored the bout 117-111, 119-109, and 118-110 for Canelo to award him a unanimous decision. Although the judges picked the correct winner, the last two scores are absurd and a great insult to Cotto. There’s no way anyone is going to tell me Cotto only won one round.
I scored the bout 116-113 for Canelo. With the win, he becomes the new RING Magazine middleweight champion as well as the new WBC middleweight beltholder.
When asked about the possibility of facing Gennady Golovkin, Canelo said he would be willing to face him as well as any challenge out there. In the past, Canelo has never backed away from a challenge so those are encouraging words.
As for Cotto, although I had him losing the fight, he looked incredibly sharp for a 35 year-old and should be proud of his performance. If he retires, there will be no shame.
I hope he does fight at least one more time though. He deserves to end his career on a high note.