WBC Strips Miguel Cotto of Middleweight Title

By Robert Ecksel on November 18, 2015
WBC Strips Miguel Cotto of Middleweight Title
The WBC has withdrawn recognition of Miguel Cotto as WBC middleweight champion.

“It’s a great honor and I’m thankful to God that this fight is happening. This is a fight that I’ve been craving. This fight is for real…”

On Saturday, November 21, at the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, the suddenly former WBC World middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs), from Caguas, Puerto Rico, will defend his honor against former WBC World super welterweight champion Canelo Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs), from Juanacatlán, Jalisco, Mexico.

The fight was supposed to be for Cotto’s WBC title, but he has been mysteriously stripped of the belt just days before the fight.

According to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, “After several weeks of communications, countless attempts and good faith time extensions trying to preserve the fight as a WBC World Championship, Miguel Cotto and his promotion did not agree to comply with WBC Rules & Regulations, while Saul Alvarez has agreed to do so. Accordingly, the WBC must rule on the matter prior to the fight [and] hereby announces that effective immediately [the WBC] has withdrawn recognition of Miguel Cotto as WBC World Middleweight Champion.”

If Canelo wins the fight, he’ll be crowned WBC middleweight champion, paving the way for a nice payday and unification bout with Gennady Golovkin.

If Cotto wins the fight, he can take the money, including the $300,000 sanctioning fee he allegedly refused to pay, and run.

I daresay Cotto deserves better.

The relevance or lack thereof regarding the WBC’s last minute move won’t, however, affect the quality of the bout.

After the last two pay-per-view fights of consequence, the embarrassing showcase that was Mayweather vs. Berto and the incrementally less embarrassing showcase that was Golovkin vs. Lemieux, the fight between Cotto and Canelo still has the potential to be an excellent fight.

But calling a fight the “fight of the year” before a single punch is thrown, especially after this latest move, is an iffy proposition.

Cotto and Canelo both have virtues and faults. It may boil down to who is younger and stronger, as well as which fighter has the most left.

HBO, whose hegemony might be threatened but still presents fights better than anyone, is pulling out all the stops for this bout. There have been not one, but two teleconference calls. And while it won’t generate Mayweather-Pacquiao numbers—no fight will ever again generate Mayweather-Pacquiao numbers—Cotto vs. Canelo is a good fight between good fighters and, all things being equal, may actually be worth the $70 it costs to see it in HD, title fight or not.

Cotto has experienced something of a resurgence after back-to-back losses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012. He hooked up with master trainer Freddie Roach and has won his last three fights, a TKO over overmatched Delvin Rodriguez in 2013, a victory over Sergio Martinez, who was on his last legs, to win the WBC title in 2014, and a fourth round stoppage of former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale in his last fight.

“It’s going to be a great fight,” said Roach, “and we are looking for a knockout. We will be the first person to knock out Alvarez.”

Canelo isn’t the most graceful boxer to ever lace up a pair of gloves, but he’s got a helluva beard. Those looking for Cotto to KO Canelo may have to reverse that equation.

But Cotto, in typical Cotto fashion, is taking it in his stride. One of the more dignified fighters in a sport where dignity is sometimes in short supply, Cotto said, “This is just another fight for me. It’s my fight number 45 and I’m well prepared. There is no difference [between this fight and those that preceded it]. It’s just another fight for me. What is in the past is in the past, you know?”

Roach always predicts his fighters will starch their opponents. I’m still waiting for Pacquiao to KO Mayweather as Freddie promised. But Canelo isn’t Mayweather. In fact, when they fought in 2013, Canelo looked like a schoolboy in the ring. But Canelo may have improved since then. He has won his last three fights, a TKO over shopworn Alfredo Angulo in 2014, a questionable split decision victory over Erislandy Lara the same year, and a third round KO over James Kirkland, who foolishly elected to bomb with a bomber.

But Cotto may be a different caliber fighter, at least that’s what Freddie believes.

“I think [Miguel] is the best fighter [Canelo has] ever fought, and I think he’s handpicked opponents. Mayweather was a tough fighter but not a big puncher, and this is the first heavy puncher he’s going against. I feel that this guy gets hit too much and I think Miguel will knock him out somewhere along the way.”

Cotto is less inclined to hyperbole. “Anything can happen,” he said. “We are prepared that anything can happen in the ring. The best way to beat a guy is in the smartest way. I know I can punch, and I can hit hard, but now at this moment I’m looking for the perfect occasion, and I’m creating the perfect opportunity just to hit my opponent. You know, that’s the thing only time can bring you—experience. That’s all that is different for me right now. Now I understand that I have 36 minutes to finish my opponent, and I [intend to] use every second of it.”

In addition to being younger and stronger, Canelo is also bigger. But “I think we’re much faster,” said Roach. “I think Canelo is a little bit slower. He tends to let you know when he’s going to throw, and he tucks and ducks and so forth. If we have to box this guy, we will box him. If he wants to slug with us, that’s no problem, we’re ready for that also. I think Miguel is the more intelligent and the smarter fighter, and I think that’s who’s going to win the fight.”

“Boxing is the only thing I know to do in life,” Cotto added. “I’m not a real big fan of boxing. I’m just enjoy boxing when I’m boxing. I know Canelo is a great fighter. But I am 35 years old. I plan to be in boxing no longer than a year from now. It probably will be the biggest victory of my career, but at the end of the road that’s just going to be victory No. 41 for my career.”

Canelo is respectful but less soulful than Cotto. Soulfulness, however, doesn’t win fights.

“I’m honored to be fighting a fighter like Miguel Ángel Cotto,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it because I know it can go down in history as one of the great fights between Mexico and Puerto Rico. He’s had an illustrious career. He’s a tremendous fighter with tremendous experience. I’ve always liked watching him fight; his style, his boxing. It’s a great honor and I’m thankful to God that this fight is happening. This is a fight that I’ve been craving, I’ve been wanting. Without a doubt, this is a fight. We are both coming to win. We are both going to fight. Without a doubt, this is a fight for real.”

The same cannot be said for the WBC’s capricious and/or calculated decree.

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  1. KB 07:35pm, 11/19/2015

    The undercard makes this a stinker.

  2. AkT 06:06am, 11/19/2015

    I love Miguel Cotto. But I genuinely feel that he may get soundly beaten unless he boxes and moves very well. I doubt he’ll do that though it’s Mexico vs Puerto Rico - the ugly macho rivalry may raise it’s head.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:28am, 11/18/2015

    The best thing here for both would be a hard fought and very close FOTY candidate that warranted a big money rematch. The fans get their money’s worth, these guys get well earned big bucks and both are spared career changing/ending KOs by GGG.

  4. Mike Silver 11:01pm, 11/17/2015

    The WBC wants Cotto to ante up a $300,000 sanctioning fee! For what? The right to wear their dime store title belt? That is not only absurd, it is obscene. He is right to refuse to pay. The fact that boxing has not rid itself of these extortionist leeches after all these years is a damning indictment of this so called “sport”.

  5. FrankinDallas 05:29pm, 11/17/2015

    Canelo was what? 22 yrs old when he fought Mayweather?
    Maybe the result was “abysmal” because of the defensive talents of
    Floyd, rather than any inadequacy on the part of Alvarez. Possibly.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:57pm, 11/17/2015

    Let me get this straight….Pacquiao, juiced though he may have been, beat Miguel to a bloody pulp…..boring ass Floyd beat both of these guys and Pacquiao soundly, yet the winner here will be ready for GGG?!

  7. Koolz 04:28pm, 11/17/2015

    I only see Cotto winning this fight if he is able to frustrate and make Canelo miss for six rounds. 
    I think it will be a KO by Canelo to Cotto in the eighth round.

    Yet maybe there is some magic in Cotto from Roach and he is able to fight at angles and use Upper cuts and Hooks to take Canelo down.

    I am looking forward to this fight!
    Neither of these fighters were fighting Golovkin.

  8. CJ Benz10 04:01pm, 11/17/2015

    Lol… Coto choose to relinquished his title to avoid Golovkin. It is a clear move Golovkin as WBC silver champion who ever the holder of the built will be GGG next victim. Its clear that either Coto and Alvares will certainly duck GGG.

  9. KB 12:32pm, 11/17/2015

    BTW, If there was any fight of the year, it was Rodrigues over Seals last Saturday

  10. KB 12:26pm, 11/17/2015

    http://www.boxing.com/canelo_vs._cotto_prediction.html

    As for Politicians, how did you make the jump from Canelo to Politicians? You often seem to tout what certain boxing people say—Atlas, Roach, . I’m just saying that I’m sick of all this “Cotto Soul” and MSG being his second home.  Do with that what you want. Me, I’ll place my bet in LV, light up a Cohiba (from David Diamanté‘s, sip on some expensive Cognacs, and enjoy the slaughter.  That is, unless Rigo doesn’t put me to sleep with his “exciting” style and I miss the whole show.
    .

    Clarence, POINT TAKEN.

  11. Robert Ecksel 12:12pm, 11/17/2015

    I don’t mind a little mind-reading now and then, but I don’t presume to know what motivates Cotto and Canelo. Just because Canelo says it’s all about his legacy doesn’t mean it’s true. What next? Are we going to start believing everything politicians say?

  12. Clarence George 12:00pm, 11/17/2015

    It’s not Alvarez who’s abysmal, but his performance against Mayweather.  I fully expect him to win on Saturday.

  13. KB 11:52am, 11/17/2015

    Abysmal, really? I Think after Canelo sedates Cotto on Saturday night, we will see just how abysmal he is. As for the scoring, what are the alternatives?

    Please, spare me,  I get all this “soulfulness” about Cotto but Canelo is pretty mature as well and knows what this fight can mean to him. Cotto wins, he wins. Cotto loses, he wins. It’s about money. And only money.

    Not the same for Canelo.

  14. Clarence George 11:07am, 11/17/2015

    Maybe Cotto didn’t exactly shine against Mayweather, but Alvarez’s performance was abysmal.  That 114-114 was a joke.

  15. Robert Ecksel 10:38am, 11/17/2015

    Is there a less reliable barometer of a fight than the judges’ scorecards? Mayweather’s fight with Cotto was somewhat competitive. Some impartial observers even thought he might have won. But Canelo looked lost when he fought Floyd, the disgraced former boxing judge C.J. Ross’ 114-114 notwithstanding.

  16. kb 10:15am, 11/17/2015

    if Canelo looked like a schoolboy in the ring with Mayweather, what did Cotto look like?  Cotto The judges scored the fight a unanimous decision for Mayweather by scores of 118–110, 117–111, and 117–111

    Canelo: 116-112, 117-111, 114-114

  17. Clarence George 10:03am, 11/17/2015

    Huh?!  The likeliest inference is that Cotto refused to pay the sanctioning fee.  But what I don’t get is why only Alvarez has a shot at winning the title.  The title’s now vacant, right?  Can’t either man win a vacant title?  Well, I can’t even pretend to have the slightest idea what the hell is going on with boxing anymore.  It’s just all so cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

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