(Reuters) - Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez beat Miguel Cotto on a unanimous points decision to win the WBC world middleweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Alvarez, the pre-fight favourite, lived up to his billing with a powerful display at the Mandalay Bay Events Center as the 25-year-old improved his career record to 46-1-1 (32 KOs). His only loss was to Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
All three judges agreed Alvarez had won the contest comfortably, awarding him between nine and 11 of the 12 rounds.
“We knew going into this fight that it would be a difficult journey, but I feel that I was the faster and stronger fighter tonight,” Alvarez said.
“I wasn’t hurt by his punches. I was fully prepared for what Cotto was going to do in the ring, whether that was take a defence stance or be the aggressor.”
No sooner was the fight over than talk turned to a possible clash with Kazak world champion Gennady Golovkin, the unbeaten WBA, IBF and interim WBC champion, nicknamed GGG.
“I have respect for him, but if we do fight it’s going to be at my weight class,” Alvarez said. “I’m the champion, I don’t have to do what he wants.”
After a relatively even contest early, Alvarez established his dominance over Cotto with a devastating series of blows in the eighth round.
Cotto, who lost for just the fifth time in 45 career fights, was stripped of the WBC world title earlier in the week after refusing to pay the reported $300,000 sanctioning fee the organisation demanded.
Had the Puerto Rican won on Saturday, the title would have remained vacant.
“I am not disappointed by the WBC’s decision,” Cotto said before Saturday’s fight. “It was all about money. The fee for this fight was absurd to me. And I prefer to keep the money in my account.
“The organisation wants four champions in every division just to earn a percentage from everybody. And then we have to pay for their mistakes.
“I don’t need their belt. I have enough belts in my house. And with the money I saved, I can buy any belt I want.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Julian Linden