by Jake Donovan
There were a number of reasons for the first round of negotiations hitting a wall between Miguel Cotto and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. The abridged version is that Cotto just felt like it wasn't yet time for the event to take place, at least not this past May, for when the superfight was budgeted.
No longer is there any cause for concern; all matters have been agreed upon for two of the biggest stars of the sport to collide on November 21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Still, there was quite a bit of history in leading to this point.
Following the first batch of talks - which were actually tabled more so than having fallen apart - the two fighters went in their separate directions in effort to further their brand. Alvarez made a big splash, knocking out James Kirkland in front of 31,000 fans at Minute Maid Park in Houston, also an event that drew the highest cable TV audience for a boxing in nine years.
One month later, Cotto (40-4, 33KOs) made a triumphant ring return with a 4th round stoppage of Australia's Daniel Geale at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
From there, the two camps were summoned to pick up where they last left off, hoping they would iron out their difference. The fight was eventually agreed upon by all parties and finally formally announced Thursday morning.
If it was an excruciating process, neither side is letting on.
"It was a little long, the process. But that's usual or common when there's fights of this level, of this magnitude," Alvarez noted, taking the glass half-full approach. "I never lost faith that it was going to happen, whether it was here or the next fight.
"I was sure that this was the fight obviously that everybody wanted to see and that it was going to happen. I'm just very happy it happened now and we are going to get ready for it."
Cotto first teased the possibility of the fight becoming a reality in the immediate aftermath of his win over Geale. The fight marked the first defense of the World middleweight title he claimed in a rousing 10th round stoppage of Sergio Martinez last June in New York City, becoming the only Puerto Rican fighter in history to claim titles in four weight classes.
His post-fight interview with HBO's Max Kellerman assured the world that nothing would stand in the way of this fight taking place. Not even the location, even if Cotto fought long and hard for the event to land in New York City, where he has sold more tickets to boxing events than any other fighter in the 21st Century.
“If a Canelo fight happens, if he want the fight, I want the fight and the people want the fight, then let’s do it,” Cotto said at the time. “Before that, I just want to spend time with my family. After that, we will be back in L.A. and ready for Canelo.”
The fight is now official, but not before Cotto agreed to one last concession in order to please all parties—giving up on the possibility having Canelo fight him in New York.
“That was a real big negotiation for this fight, but it's already happened,” Cotto says of the decision to agree to a fight in Las Vegas. “It's already made for us, for everybody, for the fans all over the world. I'm just going to be ready for him.”
In a perfect world, talks would have went this smooth the first time around and the fight could have potentially landed in May, as intended by Alvarez and promoter Oscar de la Hoya. As it turns out, the bump in the road turned out to be a blessing disguise.
“For some reason it didn't happen the first time around. But both times were fairly easy,” de la Hoya says of both rounds of negotiations, the first time obviously minus the part where the fight didn’t happen. “When you have a partner like ROC Nation who understands the importance of this mega event, it takes time. It takes patience. It takes a lot of hard work.
“But I would have to say it was fairly easy working with Roc Nation in putting this fight together. It was a long process, and like I said, it didn't happen for a reason the first time around. But we're extremely happy and proud that it is taking place November 21.”
Shortly after this fight was no longer on the table for the spring, another big event came to fruition – the long-awaited showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The matchup was more than five years in the making, and a given that in the event it was finally made, then all bets were off for a fight as big as Cotto-Alvarez to immediately follow.
Instead, Alvarez took the opportunity to instead return to HBO’s flagship network, fighting off of the PPV circuit for the first time in nearly two years. The move was a rousing success, knocking out James Kirkland in three rounds, in front of 31,000 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, and with more than 2 million viewers tuning in on HBO.
The win—paired with Cotto’s 4th round knockout of Geale one month later—ultimately provided the final 1-2 combination an event of this magnitude needed to make it the most anticipated fight for the remainder of the year. It claims that status even if it took longer than most had hoped for all parties involve to formally announce.
“The fight is huge now. Obviously we recognize that in May, Mayweather-Pacquiao was taking place,” de la Hoya points out. “Now that that fiasco is all over with, we can focus on promoting the biggest fight in the history of the sport in November.
“So we have no obstacles in front of us. We have our engines revved up ready to go and we're going to promote this event to the world, and it's going to be one of those events that the world is going to talk about for many years to come.”
Fortunately it’s an event that requires no more talking for the parties involved to finally make a reality. Once the forthcoming press tour is complete, all of the talking from here on out can take place in the ring.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox