By Tyson Bruce
Thankfully for boxing fans, it took just one week to cleanse the stench left over from the failure of the Mayweather-Pacquiao “super-fight” when Canelo Alvarez, 24, eviscerated James Kirkland in a three knockdown performance that culminated with the leading knockout of the year candidate. Less fortunately, the casual fans that dipped their toes into the water of boxing simply because of the lure of the hype generated by “MayPac” will probably take another blockbuster to be drawn back.
Photo: USA Today
Regardless, Canelo Alvarez drew an astonishing thirty-one thousand fans and put on the kind of performance that bolsters his chances of becoming the face of boxing in the future. The Mexican star also moved one step closer to guaranteeing a showdown with Puerto Rican Rival and Middleweight Champion Miguel Cotto in what figures to be the most lucrative matchup in boxing in the post Mayweather-Pacquiao era. The sheer brutality and explosiveness of Alvarez’s victory will likely ensure that he will open up as the significant betting favourite against the much older and ring worn champion.
This weekend Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, another fighter that many boxing fans are coming to view as one of the best and most exciting fighters in the sport, takes on the slick but little known Willy “The Mongoose” Monroe Jr., 16-1-0-(9 KO’s). Golovkin, 32-0-0-(29 KO’s), is riding an astonishing nineteen-fight knockout streak and probably has the most fervent cult following in the entire sport. Despite his growing fan base and undeniable talent Golovkin has continued to be avoided by the elite fighters in and around his weight class.
Miguel Cotto has stated that, as an elder statesman in boxing, his career is no longer driven by glory or any kind of obligatory responsibility to defending a lineal title. Instead, he fights for financial gain and for the future security of his family. That seems like a noble and responsible position for someone that has sustained the amount of physical abuse Cotto has in his career. Why he is then fighting Daniel Geale—a match that proves nothing and hardly guarantee the greatest financial reward—challenges this logic. This has rightfully drawn the scorn of boxing fans that feel he is holding the middleweight championship hostage. One could say the same thing about belt-holder Peter Quillin and those involved in PBC that have done their best to convince the public Golovkin doesn’t exist or matter.
Photo: Hogan Photos
Cotto can certainly avoid the scorn of not fighting Golovkin by signing to fight Canelo in the event that he defeats Geale later this year. The Alvarez fight guarantees a much larger financial reward and in the eyes of most qualified experts comes at far less risk than fighting the marauding Golovkin. But is it actually a better matchup, as some seem to claim? At age 24, Canelo is a boxing stud that is just coming into his physical prime and Cotto is a hall-of-fame bound fighter that is unquestionably on his last legs. Aside from a victory over an aging and injury ruined Sergio Martinez who has Cotto defeated in the last several years that really mattered? Does an ancient Mayorga or a half blind Margarito really make the cut?
Miguel Cotto has been such a universally beloved fighter that fans and experts alike have used any breath of hope as evidence that their man is not on the slide, despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. The beatings that Cotto sustained against Margarito and Pacquiao are the kind that leaves the vast majority of fighters as shell of their former selves. That Cotto has continued to be a world-class boxer is a testimate to his will and natural ability.
Yet the dementia with which many evaluate Cotto has let us forget that many people were critical of Pacquiao’s victory over Cotto way back in 2009 because it was popular opinion that Cotto was damaged goods. More recently, it has been conveniently ignored that Austin Trout handled Cotto with relative ease just over two years ago. Instead, many have opted with the redemptive narrative of Freddie Roach resurrecting Cotto’s career bringing back the bruising body punching attack of old. It’s rare to the point of fiction that an athlete, let alone a boxer, ever improves in his mid-thirties. In reality Cotto’s career as an elite fighter is likely riding on fumes and one or two more world-class performances is probably all that remains.
If we learned anything from Mayweather-Pacquiao it is perhaps that the next “legendary night” in the boxing ring is not going to occur between two older fighters at the twilight of their careers. Both Mayweather and Pacquiao fought like old millionaires protecting their business assets. Cotto isn’t likely to fight in the same timid manner but at this stage in his career is he really capable of standing in the wheelhouse with a young gun like Alvarez or a killer like Golovkin?
The kind of fight that is likely to enter into boxing lexicon of all time great fights is one between fighters that still have something to prove—who still have to dare to be great. Cotto has already punched his ticket to the hall regardless of what happens. Alvarez and Golovkin on the other hand still have much to prove. When you combine the vocalized ambition and the offensive nature of both guys styles it’s hard not to see Golovkin-Alvarez as the next great matchup in boxing. This time it might actually live up to hype as well.