Column: Cotto and Alvarez in fight that may be worth price
LAS VEGAS (AP) The sting from Mayweather-Pacquiao is still there, which makes anyone who spent $100 to watch that overhyped snoozer think twice about wasting their money on boxing again.
Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez aren't to blame, but it does force them to have to work harder to sell their own fight. They get in the ring Saturday night for what is expected to be the biggest pay-per-view fight since 4.4 million households bought into the hype in May for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
While the fight is an attractive one for boxing fans, it won't match the pay-per-view record set six months ago. But Oscar De La Hoya likes what it brings to the sport, even if it struggles at the box office.
''Mayweather was all about the business, how many pay-per-views, how much money was made,'' said De La Hoya, who promotes Alvarez. ''We're going back to the roots of boxing where if you fight the best everything follows that. And this is a perfect example of the best fighting the best.''
Fans of Gennady Golovkin would argue that, but Cotto vs. Alvarez just might be the best matchup of the year in boxing. Better yet for those contemplating spending $69.95 to watch it at home, it doesn't figure to lack for action.
This being boxing, of course, even a potentially great fight has its issues.
It was supposed to be for a piece of the middleweight title, but now only Alvarez can leave the ring as a champion if he wins. Cotto was stripped of his 160-pound title this week rather than agree to the demands of the ringmasters at the WBC, who wanted him to pay a $300,000 sanctioning fee to keep his belt.
That's on top of the $800,000 that Cotto spent earlier to avoid meeting Golovkin so he could take on Alvarez instead.
''For $1.1 million I can buy any belt I want and be champion of whatever I want in my house,'' Cotto said. ''But this fight speaks for itself. I don't need a belt for this fight.''
It's probably just as well, because the fight was barely a middleweight bout anyway. The two fighters agreed to meet at a 155-pound catch weight instead of fighting at the class limit of 160 pounds so the fight could get made.
Whatever the weight, the fight at the Mandalay Bay casino is a big one. Triple G will be at ringside, hoping that he will get the winner sometime next year, and unbeaten light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will also be on hand.
Just how many people will buy the fight after feeling burned by Mayweather-Pacquiao, remains to be seen. Promoters are hopeful a big Hispanic audience will produce some 1.5 million buys but that seems wildly optimistic in the wake of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
''The problem is that maybe 2.3 million of the 4.4 million buys for Mayweather and Pacquiao were new homes and they won't pay for a fight again because it was a dud,'' De La Hoya said. ''Now it's our job to bring them back.''
De La Hoya believes Alvarez is the next big thing in boxing, ready to take over the pay-per-view dates in May and September that Mayweather dominated in recent years. Alvarez is already a consistent pay-per-view draw, with his only loss coming in a fight with Mayweather that he proved too inexperienced to win.
''If Canelo looks sensational against Cotto then we have the next superstar,'' De La Hoya said. ''He's special and I can't say that about too many fighters. He's willing to learn and he wants to be great.''
Cotto is a big attraction himself, though it appeared his career was over after back-to-back losses to Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012. He went to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach to revitalize his career, and has stopped all three of his opponents since.
''All I had to do was remind him of what he used to do,'' Roach said. ''He was looking for knockouts, I had to remind him he is a boxer, first.''
With Mayweather retired, boxing fans don't need a reminder of their own that there is still some fight left in the sport. Golovkin packed Madison Square Garden last month for his win over David Lemieux, and Cotto-Alvarez could cap off the year with a huge fight of their own.
In the wake of Mayweather-Pacquiao this one is a tough sell. Unlike that fight, though, it could be worth the price.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg