LOS ANGELES: Puerto Rican middleweight great Miguel Cotto says he doesn’t need a world title to lend importance to his Saturday (Sunday in Manila) showdown with Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“I don’t need a belt to fight Canelo,” said Cotto, who was stripped of his World Boxing Council crown on Tuesday over failure to pay the $300,000 sanctioning fee they demanded for a world title bout.
Alvarez and his camp stumped up their $300,000, and the former WBC and World Boxing Association super welterweight world champion can claim the vacant WBC title with a victory.
Cotto said Wednesday he had offered the WBC $125,000, but the sanctioning body rejected it. He was unrepentant over failing to pay the $300,000—or a further $800,000 step-aside fee to mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin.
The 34-year-old Puerto Rican, winner of world titles in four weight divisions, takes a record of 40-4 with 33 knockouts into the bout.
Trainer Freddie Roach said Cotto is in as good a shape as he has ever seen him.
“We are going to box a lot in this fight,” Roach said. “We’re not just going out there looking for a knockout. I want him using his foot speed and his angles. He’s a more complete fighter now than ever.”
But Roach admits he’d love to see Cotto knock out Alvarez — then call out Floyd Mayweather to put his 49-0 record on the line.
“Miguel always tells me that if he had me in his corner when he fought Mayweather he would have knocked him out,” Roach said. “I think Miguel could pull off the strategy I have to beat Mayweather. I think that would be a good fight for him.”
But first there’s the 25-year-old Alvarez, 45-1-1 with 32 knockouts.
The bout is being fought at a 155-pound catchweight, and the Mexican’s power—amply demonstrated in a spectacular knockout of James Kirkland in May—could trouble Cotto.
“At this particular point, I feel very solid,” Alvarez said. “I’m ready and I’m going to show it on Saturday.”
On the undercard at Mandalay Bay, Japan’s WBC super featherweight champion Takashi Miura defends his title against unbeaten Francisco Vargas.
“I am motivated because of the streak that Miura has built against other Mexican fighters,” said Vargas, who brings a record of 22-0-1 with 16 knockouts to his first world title bout.
Miura dethroned Gamaliel Diaz on April 8, 2013 and has since defeated Mexico’s Sergio Thompson, Dante Jardon and Edgar Puerta. He stopped Australia’s Billy Dib in three rounds in Tokyo on May 1 to take his record to 29-2-2 with 22 knockouts
Former unified junior featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, stripped of his belts because of inactivity, will return to the ring on the undercard against Drian Francisco.