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Alvarez beats Cotto by unanimous decision to claim middleweight title

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Canelo Alvarez made a case for himself as boxing’s next star Saturday night, landing the bigger punches to take a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto and win a piece of the middleweight title.

Alvarez took the fight to Cotto from the opening bell, winning rounds with big right hands and uppercuts. Cotto tried to box and had his moments, but Alvarez was clearly ahead as the crowd stood on its feet as both fighters traded punches in the final rounds.

Alvarez won the WBC version of the title that Cotto vacated days earlier for not paying sanctioning fees. His win set up a possible megafight with Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight champion who was watching at ringside.

“With all due respect if he wants to fight right now I’ll put the gloves on and fight him,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez won by scores of 117-11, 119-109 and 118-110. The Associated Press had him ahead 116-112.

Alvarez, whose only loss came to Floyd Mayweather Jr., set the tone early, winging big left hooks in the first round that Cotto largely avoided. As the fight went on, though, he began landing more of his punches as he patiently stalked Cotto around the ring.

Cotto boxed well at times and landed flurries of punches, but his didn’t seem to have nearly the same power as those thrown by Alvarez. In the final rounds, Alvarez caught Cotto with a series of punches that seemed to shake him some though he was never down and never appeared in real trouble.

“It’s an emotion I can’t put into words,” Alvarez said. “I’m very happy and much respect to Miguel Cotto. I will always respect him and he’s a great champion but now it’s my era.”

Cotto expressed disappointment in the judges’ decision, but left the ring before speaking.

“We thought it was much closer than the scorecards showed,” said Cotto’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “It was a competitive fight.”

Alvarez went into Cotto’s locker room after the fight, telling the fighter he just beat that “I admire you.”

Though the fight was for a 160-pound title it was fought at a catch weight of 155 pounds. Alvarez weighed exactly that the day before the fight, but after rehydrating appeared much larger in the ring than did Cotto, who was 153 1/2 pounds at the official weigh-in.

Alvarez was a 3-1 favorite coming into the bout, largely because he is 10 years younger than Cotto and a bigger puncher. The ages didn’t seem to make a difference, but the ringside judges were surely influenced by the harder punches that the red-headed Alvarez landed.

Cotto was credited with throwing 629 punches to 484 for Alvarez, but Alvarez landed 155 to 129 for Cotto.

Cotto had vowed to pull the upset by using his boxing skills, and at times he was quite effective. But by the third round, Alvarez was landing some of the big punches he was winging at Cotto.

The fight was the latest in the boxing rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico. Alvarez, from Mexico, was the clear favorite of the crowd at the Mandalay Bay casino. But Cotto was competitive and a lot of the early rounds were close.

The action picked up in the eighth round, with both fighters trading punches. Again, Alvarez landed the harder shots, using his uppercut effectively and shaking Cotto with punches to the head.

Cotto, who earned $15 million, fell to 40-5, while Alvarez improved to 46-1-1.

In a wild fight on the undercard, Francisco Vargas seemed to be taking a beating and was half blinded before coming back to stop Takashi Miura of Japan at 1:31 of the ninth round.

Vargas won a piece of the 130-pound title, but paid a price to do it. He was knocked down once and staggered at the end of the eighth round, and the ring doctor looked closely at his swollen right eye before allowing the fight to continue in the ninth.

When it did, Vargas landed a sudden right and left that knocked Miura down. He followed it by chasing the champion around the ring, finally landing a series of shots to the head that prompted the referee to step in and stop the bout.

Vargas, of Mexico, improved to 23-0-1, while Miura fell to 29-3-2.

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.