LAS VEGAS: Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez captured the vacant World Boxing Council middleweight title on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with a unanimous decision victory over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.
Judges awarded Alvarez the verdict by scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111, the Mexican improving to 46-1-1 while Cotto fell to 40-5.
Alvarez, 25, became only the second Mexican fighter to claim the world middleweight throne, taking the title Cotto, 34, surrendered earlier in the week rather than pay sanctioning fees.
“It’s an emotion I just can’t put into words,” Alvarez said. “I’m very happy. Much respect to Miguel Cotto. He’s a great champion. But now it’s my era.”
Unbeaten Kazak fighter Gennady Golovkin, 34-0 with 31 knockouts, owns the other two major middleweight titles and Alvarez said he is ready to face him to determine an undisputed champion.
“If he wants to fight right now, I’ll put on the gloves and fight him right now,” Alvarez said. “He’s a great champion. But right now I’ll put the gloves on against him.”
Cotto suffered only his second defeat in 10 fights against Mexicans, the other coming to Antonio Margarito in 2008.
“It’s a great victory for me, not just me but all of my country,” Alvarez said.
The fighters traded impressive exchanges through the early rounds of a bout fought at a catchweight of 155 pounds.
But the pace increased in the eighth round as Cotto pressed the attack against the larger Alvarez, his jab setting up power punches against the Mexican, who responded with left hooks and combinations to keep Cotto at bay over the final rounds.
“It doesn’t matter if I landed 10 punches, but 10 well connected punches, and obviously not get hit by his punches,” said Alvarez.
In the final round, Alvarez landed some sledgehammer shots early to open a cut over Cotto’s left eye. A body punch by Alvarez in the final seconds was met with an exchange by Cotto and at the final bell, the rivals put their hands on each other’s shoulders as the crowd cheered.