Two Nations, One Rivalry: Cotto-Canelo adds to classic feud

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Miguel Cotto Saul Canelo AlvarezOn November 21, Miguel Cotto (44-4-0, 33KO) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32KO) will meet in a middleweight title fight to determine the lineal champion in the 160-pound division. The fight has been received well by fans and is sure to provide an electric atmosphere come fight night.

The fight did more than sell out minutes after going on sale, not to mention fill up hotels across the Las Vegas strip with many more reservations than tickets available, it re-ignited the age old rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Mandalay Bay Events Center is set to be the site for the clash between the two stars, but Puerto Rico and Mexico hold the distinction for the two most talked about locations regarding the fight.
Why would such importance be placed on the nationalities of the fighters? The answer is simple to any boxing fan and international sports fan because Puerto Rico and Mexico share one of the greatest rivalries in sports. The sweet science has contributed many epic moments in the history of the rivalry dating all the way back to 1934 when Puerto Rico’s Sixto Escobar took on Mexico’s Rodolfo “Baby” Casanova in a bantamweight title fight.
Escobar would knockout Casanova in the ninth round to become the first Puerto Rican to win a boxing world championship. Thus, a fierce rivalry was born. The modern era of boxing alone has had more than a handful of memorable matchups occur.
“Standing or dead, but never on my knees,” proclaimed Wilfredo Gomez, before his 1981 featherweight championship fight with Salvador Sanchez of Mexico, a fight that perhaps best describes the pride associated with being a participant in the rivalry. As two of the world’s top fighters, the super fight between the two helped bring worldwide awareness to the heated rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico. Although he was the bigger puncher, Gomez was dropped in the first round by a left hook that gave Sanchez an advantage he never relinquished. Gomez refused to go down without a fight and relentlessly charged the Mexican until he was dropped in the eighth round by a barrage of right hands. Referee Carlos Padilla called an end to the action following Gomez’s attempt to rise from the knockdown, giving a stoppage victory to Sanchez and a victory for Mexico to add in their tally of victories in the historic rivalry.
Mexico would get another acclaimed victory in 1992 when Julio Caesar Chavez earned a twelve round decision victory over Hector “Macho” Camacho of Puerto Rico. In one of the most anticipated matchups of the rivalry, Chavez and Camacho both earned three million dollars for getting in the ring with each other, which easily demonstrated the appeal of the Puerto Rican-Mexican battle. Trash talk was prevalent throughout the build up to the fight as both fighters promised pain and knockouts. Although the knockout never came, Chavez’s brutal body shots and Camacho’s flair helped bring the rivalry to the mainstream.
“The fight of the millennium” between Puerto Rico’s Felix “Tito” Trinidad and “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya would be the talk of the sport in 1999. De La Hoya entered the fight with an Olympic gold medal, undefeated record, and top pound for pound status. Trinidad also entered with an unbeaten record as well as the support of the entire island of Puerto Rico.
The fight was the richest non-heavyweight fight at the time and recorded 1.4 million PPV sales, which would stand as a record until De La Hoya’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007. Unfortunately, the fight was spoiled by controversy as Trinidad was given a majority decision victory in a fight many felt he lost. De La Hoya controlled the early action of the fight, but with the advice of his corner decided to give away much of the later rounds, content with just jabbing and moving his way to the finish. Still, to this day debates spark when talking about who rightfully won the fight. Nonetheless, Trinidad took the victory back to the island for himself and Puerto Rico.
Miguel Cotto himself is no stranger to the rivalry. In 2008, Cotto suffered his first professional loss at the hands(or hand wraps) of Antonio Margarito of Mexico.
After Margarito was found with illegal hand wraps prior to his fight with Shane Mosley, a rematch between Cotto and Margarito was set for 2011. Cotto outboxed and stopped Margarito after it was determined his right eye was too damaged to continue after the ninth round. The victory gave Cotto and Puerto Rico vengeance against Margarito and Mexico.
Mexico currently holds the head to head lead against Puerto Rico with a 73 to 53 advantage. Cotto hopes to add win number 54 for Puerto Rico on November 21.
Cotto and Alvarez have been on a collision course to fight each other since 2012 when Cotto was one victory away from securing a showdown with Alvarez for spring 2013. Cotto was upset by Austin Trout who then took his opportunity to claim a fight with the young Canelo Alvarez. Canelo would go on to defeat Trout by unanimous decision in April of 2013.
Since then, Cotto has had a resurgence under new trainer Freddie Roach- winning three fights in a row including defeating Sergio Martinez for the middleweight crown June 7, 2014. Cotto’s successful title defense against Daniel Geale in June sets the stage for what could be the most important fight of his hall of fame career.
Alvarez has also won three in a row following his 2013 lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. In May, Alvarez viciously knocked out James Kirkland, and almost immediately after talks began that would ultimately lead to a fight between the Mexican and Puerto Rican superstars.
With the results of their recent fights, there is no reason why this fight can’t become one of the rivalry’s all-time great battles. The history between Puerto Rico and Mexico is not lost on either the champion or the young challenger.

“I’m Puerto Rican, Canelo is Mexican. The rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico is huge,” Cotto said in downtown Los Angeles at the kick off of the promotional tour for the fight. “It’s history. There’s a lot of history behind it, and we’re going to contribute to that.”

 “There’s a great history between Mexico and Puerto Rico, and this is going to be a historic fight, another one for the storybooks,” Alvarez added. “I have a lot of pride to be fighting for my country. It’s going to be a great fight. I want this to be a historic fight.”

Whenever a Mexican and Puerto Rican fight each other they leave their heart and soul in the ring. Pride can fuel the mind and body to go beyond the limits it is supposed to go. On November 21, be prepared for the next chapter in this heated rivalry to exceed your expectations for what a PPV mega fight is supposed to be.