LAS VEGAS (AP) — Miguel Cotto and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez agreed Thursday to fight Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The fighters' camps have spent several months negotiating the HBO pay-per-view bout, which will be among the year's biggest events in boxing. The fight also is the latest chapter in the long-running rivalry between boxers from Puerto Rico and Mexico.
"Both Cotto and Canelo want it, and the fans have been asking for it," said Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez's promoter at Golden Boy. "We are pleased to be working with Roc Nation (Cotto's promoter) to make this fight a reality for the fans. It will have everything that the fans want to see in boxing, and that's action and intensity."
Cotto (40-4, 33 KOs) is the WBC middleweight champion after beating Sergio Martinez last year. He is the first Puerto Rican fighter to win titles in four weight classes, and he has revitalized his long career with three straight victories since teaming up with trainer Freddie Roach.
"In my era, Canelo is just another name," Cotto said. "Bring another big name to my record, that's what I see. ... Everybody knows what a fight between a Mexican and Puerto Rican means for boxing. People can expect the same from us."
Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) also has won three straight fights since losing his WBC 154-pound title to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013.
Alvarez has established himself as one of the top young stars in boxing and likely the most popular active Mexican fighter, earning numerous impressive victories during his rise. After failing to finalize a bout with Cotto for May, he stopped James Kirkland in spectacular fashion in the third round instead.
"It was a little long, the process," Alvarez said. "But that's usual or common when there's fights at that level. I never lost faith that it was going to happen. ... I have many more fights to come, but this is one of the ones that I've been craving and wanting so bad."
The fighters nearly met earlier this year, but negotiations dragged on too long to make their television date. While Alvarez stopped Kirkland, Cotto returned from a 12-month absence with a fourth-round stoppage of Daniel Geale.
Cotto and the 25-year-old Alvarez will fight for the 34-year-old Cotto's WBC middleweight title, but at a 155-pound catch weight. That's 5 pounds lighter than the middleweight limit, since neither fighter is a natural 160-pounder.
While Cotto and Alvarez negotiated this summer, the WBC declared that the winner of the bout must next fight its interim middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin, or be stripped of the WBC belt.
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs), who has won 20 straight fights by stoppage, already holds the WBA 160-pound title. The Kazakh-born, Los Angeles-based fighter is taking on IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux of Canada in a pay-per-view title unification bout Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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