Cotto-Alvarez bout is on for Nov. 21 after tough negotiation

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LOS ANGELES (AP) If Miguel Cotto’s fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is anywhere near as difficult as the negotiations to get them in the ring together, boxing fans are in for a treat this fall.

After months of strenuous posturing and painstaking discussions, Cotto and Alvarez appeared together in Hollywood on Monday to formally announce their WBC middleweight title bout, set for Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

The fight pits two of the sport’s biggest names in a long-awaited chapter of Puerto Rico’s long-standing boxing rivalry with Mexico. They have circled each other for years, and the negotiations dragged on for so long that both boxers took other fights earlier this year.

But both fighters are grateful the contracts are finally signed for a landmark night.

“Like any big fight, the negotiations are going to be hard,” Alvarez said through a translator. “But I’m honored to fight a guy with his accomplishments. This is a big step in my career.”

Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) had a predictably large fan contingent behind him during their public appearance in Hollywood, and the 25-year-old Mexican star is favored by most oddsmakers against the 34-year-old Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs).

Alvarez’s fans booed Cotto and his camp repeatedly during their news conference. They even jeered beloved trainer Freddie Roach when he predicted Cotto will win by a knockout.

“I don’t know what people say about the fight, and I don’t care,” Cotto said. “I focus on myself, on my training camp. Nothing else matters.”

Tickets go on sale Tuesday morning, but they will be brutally scarce for the smallish Mandalay Bay arena, which doesn’t hold nearly as many fans as the MGM Grand Garden, Madison Square Garden, an outdoor Texas stadium or any other location seriously considered for this bout. Alvarez’s camp wanted the fight in Texas, where Alvarez drew 31,588 Houston fans to watch his stoppage of James Kirkland earlier this year.

Alvarez’s camp was careful not to assign too much public blame for the torturous negotiations to Cotto, a famously deliberate decision-maker, and his new promoters at Roc Nation Sports.

“Let’s put it this way – it was quite interesting, the negotiation,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter at Golden Boy. “But it was fun, because we all wanted the same thing. This is one of the most anticipated matchups in several years, so we all had one goal, and we eventually got there.”

Cotto’s promoters say he’ll be fighting for the biggest purse of a decorated career that includes world titles in four weight classes, a first for a Puerto Rican fighter. He became the WBC’s middleweight champion in June 2014 by beating Sergio Martinez, but is undersized for the weight class.

Alvarez also has never fought as a true middleweight, and they’ll fight each other at a 155-pound catch weight, barely above the super welterweight limit.

Cotto has revitalized his career under Roach, who cut down on Cotto’s heavy cardio work and focused him on workouts designed to keep him fresh.

“Negotiations were tough because you’ve got two fighters who want to be the `A’ side,” Roach said. “We’ve got the title, and he’s got plenty of things on his side. It was a hard negotiation to get through, because everybody wants an edge.”

Still, Roach said he is thrilled the deal got made because “this is the fight I wanted really bad, that I’ve been dreaming about for Miguel.” Roach is confident Cotto’s toughness and veteran skill, coupled with the trainer’s game plan, will allow him to upset Alvarez, whose punching power has been too much for anyone except Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Cotto and Alvarez have both lost fights to Mayweather, and both would welcome a rematch with the pound-for-pound king of boxing in 2016. They also realize the WBC has ordered the winner of their bout to fight the winner of WBC interim middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s October pay-per-view showdown with David Lemieux, or be stripped of the title they worked so hard to win.

“I’m only focused on this fight, on this day,” Cotto said. “Everything after that does not matter. It’s a big fight, but it’s just another fight, and I’m going to be the winner.”

Manny Pacquiao loses WBO welterweight title on points to Jeff Horn

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight world title to Jeff Horn in a stunning, unanimous points decision in a Sunday afternoon bout billed as the Battle of Brisbane in front of more than 50,000 people.

The 11-time world champion entered the fight at Suncorp Stadium as a hot favorite but got more than he bargained for against the 29-year-old former schoolteacher.

Still, Pacquiao dominated the later rounds and the result could have gone his way.

Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach predicted the fight would be short and sweet but Horn – unbeaten in his 17 previous professional fights – applied pressure by winning some of the early rounds and Pacquiao needed treatment during the 6th and 7th rounds for a cut on the top of his head that resulted from a clash of heads.

The judges scored the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113, with Horn immediately calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr., after the fight, declaring himself “no joke.”

Roach had said earlier in the week that he’d think about advising Pacquioa to retire if he lost the fight, but that would depend on how he fought.

Pacquiao’s camp had talked about a rematch with Mayweather if he got past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in the 2015 mega fight. That seems to be a distant chance now.

Pacquiao, who entered the fight with a record of 59-6-2, 38 knockouts, was defending the WBO title he won on points against Jessie Vargas last November.

Mayweather vs. McGregor odds: Sportsbooks set betting lines, props for fight

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stand to collect a massive payday whether their superfight is a charade or a combat sports classic, and there’s plenty of upside for bettors too.

With the bout set, Mayweather is a -600 moneyline favorite against the +400 underdog McGregor at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.  Mayweather will put a 49-0 ring record on the line in the August 26 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, while McGregor, a UFC champion at two weights, might prove a point just by having a decent showing.

The moneyline has tightened considerably since the first rumors about the fight. Last November, Mayweather opened at -2250 and McGregor opened at +950. Evidently, many MMA fans found McGregor irresistible at that price, as it steadily dropped, falling to +450 by late April. That was also the point where the moneyline on ‘Money’ came down to -700.

The over/under on rounds is 9.5. A 10-round fight is uncharted waters for McGregor, but 13 of Mayweather’s last 14 fights have gone at least 10 rounds. Twelve have gone the full 12 rounds; the Mayweather-McGregor betting odds on whether the fight goes the distance pays +125 if it does, and -175 if it’s stopped early.

McGregor also pays +120 if he wins by decision, which is the standard outcome for his bouts against full-time boxers. McGregor’s method-of-victory props include +700 for a knockout and +3300 for victory by decision.

There is little in the way of past performance to go on here, since McGregor hasn’t boxed since he was a teenager in Ireland. Mayweather’s defensive skills should allow him to parry any early onslaught from McGregor, who is a knockout artist in the UFC octagon and rarely has fights go more than two rounds.

The round prices offer the most potential profit for Mayweather backers. One can assume that the skilled defensive fighter might dance around while McGregor goes out hard. It might be prudent to scale down expectations of a quick finish – +3300 for Mayweather winning in Round 1, +2500 for Round 2 – and look at the slightly later rounds. Rounds 4 through 6 are listed at +1600 and +1400.

While Mayweather’s round prices trace a reverse parabola, McGregor’s round prices are relatively stable. The Irishman offers +4000 for a win in Round 1, or each one from Rounds 4-7. There is a slight drop to +3300 for both Round 2 and 3.

Another way to bet on the Mayweather-McGregor fight is the 4.99 million total for pay-per-view buys. The over hitting would require beating the audience for Mayweather’s 2015 fight against Manny Pacquaio (4.6 million). McGregor also holds the UFC’s PPV record of 1.65 million, set at UFC 202 in August 2016

With boxing and MMA fans creating a larger fanbase and the event being scheduled for the dog days of late August – before the NFL and college football blot out everything else on the sports landscape – 5 million buys seems doable.