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Does Saul Alvarez have what it takes to be a future champion?

By Jim Dower: With all the hype that has been thrown around about 19-year-old welterweight contender/prospect Saul Alvarez (32-0-1, 24 KO’s) by boxing fans, I was expecting a lot better than what I saw from Alvarez last Saturday night against veteran light welterweight Jose Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alvarez looked nothing like a future champion, as far as I’m concerned. Alvarez has decent power, but his defense and his chin seem questionable.

I didn’t see anything from him that would make me think that Alvarez will be a champion in the welterweight or light middleweight divisions. What I did see what some ragged defensive skills, a weak chin and a tendency to retreat to the ropes a lot. Alvarez looked halfway decent opening seconds of the fight against Cotto. However, all the good feelings that I had about Alvarez died almost immediately when Cotto tagged Alvarez with a big looking left hook that connected cleanly, sending Alvarez retreating backwards to the ropes where he covered up while Cotto teed off on him.

Cotto pummeled Alvarez with a dozen shots to the head and body. I was worried a second there whether the fight would be stopped at this point, as Alvarez was just covering up and getting hit with some solid shots over and over again. What made it look all the more strange was the picture of the diminutive 5’5” Cotto, who probably has no business fighting anyone in the welterweight division, pounding the daylights out of the much bigger 5’9” Alvarez.

To Alvarez’s credit, he finally recovered from the shot and got off the ropes and finished the round landing several hard right hands. But it looked ugly how easily Alvarez was getting clobbered by Cotto with pretty much everything he threw at him. Cotto continued to have his way with Alvarez in the 2nd round, landing big shots through the leaky guard of Alvarez. In the final seconds of the round, Alvarez dropped Cotto with a right uppercut that caused Cotto to touch the canvas with both of his gloves to keep from falling.

Cotto was hit while charging forward without a jab and trying to throw a big left hook. The punches missed, but left him wide open for right uppercut from Alvarez. In the following rounds, Alvarez would go back to his uppercuts again and again, as Cotto was an easy target because he was rushing in all the time without throwing any jabs on the way in. Alvarez showed a bad habit resting on the ropes for long periods of time before moving to the center of the ring.

It’s as if Alvarez didn’t have the energy to fight hard for three minutes of every round without needing a rest break. Cotto looked strong up through four rounds. After that, Cotto began to tire and take massive amounts of punishment. In rounds six through nine, Alvarez battered Cotto with hard right hands, tagging him almost at will. An argument can be made that the fight should have been stopped at some point along the way because Cotto was just getting the stuffing beaten out of him and was no longer competitive.

In the 9th, Alvarez hurt Cotto with a couple of hard right hands that caused Cotto to retreat to the ropes and cover up. Alvarez went after him and just unloaded on him with right hands one after another. The fight was then stopped by referee Tony Weeks at 2:51 of the round, when it was clear that Cotto was on the verge of being knocked down.

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