By: William Holmes
Tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada the second biggest boxing pay per view of the year will take place on HBO Pay Per View.
Two world titles will be on the line as Takashi Miura will defend his WBC Junior Lightweight Title against Francisco Vargas and Miguel Cotto’s WBC Middleweight World Title will be on the line against Canelo Alvarez.
However, Miguel Cotto refused to pay the WBC sanctioning fee after paying Gennady Golovkin step-aside money to make the fight happen and Miguel Cotto has been stripped of his belt. Canelo can win the WBC title if he emerges victorious.
Andre Ward was originally scheduled to appear on the pay per view, but had to withdraw due to an injury.
The following is a preview of the televised portion of the pay per view card.
Jayson Velez (23-0-1) vs. Ronny Rios (24-1); Featherweights
The opening bout of the night is a featherweight bout between two young top ranked contenders in Jayson Velez and Ronny Rios.
Velez is twenty seven and Rios is twenty five and both boxers have plenty of years left in their prime to make a mark in the boxing world. They are similar in height and reach, but Velez will have a slight height advantage while Rios will have a slight reach advantage.
Velez has more power than Rios as he has stopped sixteen of his opponents, but only two of his past five fights resulted in a stoppage victory. His lone blemish on his record was a draw in his only world title fight against Evgeny Gradovich.
Rios has the edge over Velez in amateur experience as he is a former National Golden Gloves winner and a two time US National Champion in the bantamweight division. However, he only has ten stoppage victories and was upset in a TKO loss to Robinson Castellanos in a major upset.
The biggest wins of Velez’s career were against Dat Nguyen, Salvador Sanchez, and Miguel Soto. The biggest wins of Rios’ career were against former world champion Rico Ramos, Guillermo Sanchez, and Sergio Frias.
Neither fighter has been very active recently and both only fought once in 2015. However, Rios’ recent stoppage loss against an un-heralded fighter shows that his chin is questionable coming into this fight, and Velez is a good enough boxer to take advantage of his power edge and stop Rios when the opportunity arises.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (15-0) vs. Drian Francisco (28-3-1); Junior Featherweights
Guillermo Rigondeaux was a last minute addition to the pay per view card after signing with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports and he will be fighting in perhaps the biggest mismatch of the night.
Rigondeaux is one of the most decorated amateurs of all time. He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and won the gold medal in the World Amateur Championships twice. Francisco has no notable international amateur accomplishments.
Francisco is slightly past his prime at thirty three years old and had most of his success in the flyweight division. He will be one inch taller than Rigondeaux, but he will also be giving up three inches in reach. Francisco does have decent power as he has stopped twenty two of his opponents, but he was recently stopped by the unheralded Jason Canoy in the Philippines after being knocked down three times in the first round. He has also lost to the likes of Chris Avalos and Tepparith Kokietgym. His most notable victories were over Duangpetch Kokietgym, and Ricardo Nunez.
Rigondeaux has never tasted defeat as professional but this will be his first fight in 2015. He fought twice in 2014, both times in Asia, and has not fought in the United States since his painfully un-entertaining wide decision victory over Joseph Agbeko in 2013. His other notable victories include Nonito Donaire, Teon Kennedy, Rico Ramos, and Roberto Marroquin.
This should be an incredible easy fight for Rigondeaux and a good matchup for him to shake off some ring rust.
Takashi Miura (29-2-2) vs. Francisco Vargas (22-0-1); WBC Junior Lightweight Title
The co-main event of the evening will be a WBC Junior Lightweight bout between the current champion Takashi Miura and 2008 Olympian Francisco Vargas.
Miura is thirty one and one year older than Vargas, but will be giving up an inch and a half in reach. Miura has stopped twenty two of his opponents and one of his losses was by knockout. He’s a southpaw, which could present some issues for Vargas, but most boxers with an Olympic background are able to adjust to the southpaw stance.
Miura has spent almost his entire career fighting in Japan. His one fight outside of Japan was in Mexico in 2013 when he defeated Sergio Thompson. His other notable victories include Edgar Puerto and Billy Dib. His losses were to Yusuke Kobori early on in his career and to Takashi Uchiyama. Miura was able to knock Uchiyama down in the third round.
Vargas has stopped sixteen of his opponents and is considered by many to have a high ceiling in the sport of boxing. He has a more impressive resume than Miura and has defeated the likes of Will Tomlinson, Juan Manuel Lopez by a third round stoppage, as well as Abner Cotto and Jerry Belmontes.
On paper this is one of the more competitive fights of the night, but it’s a fight that Vargas should win for his first major world title.
Miguel Cotto (40-4) vs. Canelo Alvarez (45-1); WBC Middleweight Title for Alvarez Only
Miguel Cotto is a lock to become a first ballot hall of famer and will be remembered for being one of the best of his era. He has won titles in the junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight, and middleweight divisions.
However, Cotto is thirty five years old and near the end of his physical prime. He’s also facing a young, talented, and hard hitting opponent that is ten years younger than him.
Cotto has the edge in amateur experience as he competed in the 2000 Olympics for Puerto Rico. Canelo turned pro at the age of fifteen but he did experience some success as an amateur on the national level.
They are similar in power as Canelo has stopped thirty two of his opponents while Cotto has stopped thirty three.
Cotto will be about two inches smaller than Canelo and will be giving up about three and a half inches in reach. Cotto is a smaller middleweight who looks like he can still easily make the junior middleweight limit. Cotto does have issues against boxers who have good movement as his three of his losses were to Austin Trout, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao. His other loss was to Antonio Margarito, a loss he later avenged and many believe Margarito may have had illegally wrapped hands at the time.
Even though Cotto has four losses on his resume he has faced some of the best boxing has to offer in his era and has many notable victories. They include wins over Daniel Geale and Sergio Martinez in the middleweight division, as well as Ricardo Mayorga, Yuri Foreman, Delvin Rodriguez, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Randall Bailey, and DeMarcus Corley.
Canelo has one loss on his resume, and that loss was to Floyd Mayweather Jr. He does have a split decision victory over Erislandy Lara that many felt he lost. His other notable victories include Austin Trout, Josesito Lopez, Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintrin, Alfonso Gomez, and James Kirkland.
Canelo looked sensation in his last fight against James Kirkland, but Kirkland played right into Canelo’s strength and tried to exchange power shots with him.Canelo can fight flat footed at times, and Cotto’s footwork has improved significantly since he teamed up with Freddie Roach.
However, Canelo is still in the beginning of his athletic prime and he is no stranger to big money fights and should be able to handle the pressure. Cotto has only fought twice since October of 2013 and could be considered by many to have some ring rust.
If Canelo can successfully cut off the ring early he should have an easier fight than most expect. However, if Cotto can attack Canelo at different angles and if he can avoid unnecessary wild exchanges, he can pull off an upset victory.
But this is a fight that this writer expects Canelo to win.
Final Press Con Quotes:
MiGUEL COTTO, The Ring Magazine and Lineal Middleweight World Champion:
“We are hours away from the fight. We had a great training camp in Los Angeles. All I have to say is that I am ready for the fight. I know that Canelo is ready too. Let’s give the fans the fight they need from us.
“Freddie brings his best to every day and every session. The least I can do is bring my best too. I think the chemistry between us grows every day.
“We are going to apply our strategy in the best way possible and I have no doubt that what we worked on in LA for seven weeks is going to be the key for a victory.
“I don’t need a belt to fight Canelo.”
CANELO ÁLVAREZ, Former WBC and WBA Super Welterweight World Champion:
“Thank you all for the support you’ve given me and this great event. Also, the reception that each and every one of you have given to me, I’m very grateful. I’ve had a great preparation. I’ve worked very hard. I am patiently waiting for Saturday night to have my hand raised in victory once again. It’s going to be a difficult fight, I know that, but that is why I prepared properly, and I am ready to give a great fight.”