THE 34-year-old Miguel Cotto has been written off several times in recent years and seems to grow stronger as a consequence. People doubted he could recover from the 2008 pounding he took from Antonio Margarito, and the signs directed Cotto to the scrapheap after a peak Manny Pacquiao pummelled him a year later. He regrouped under the tutelage of Emanuel Steward, claimed some solid victories at light-middle before a competitive loss to Floyd Mayweather and subsequent reverse to Austin Trout seemed to spell the end. But Cotto, built from astonishingly stern stuff, was not ready to wave goodbye. And elite trainer Freddie Roach, who welcomed the Puerto Rican, discovered the fighter had plenty to offer.

Since then, three stoppage victories have followed, his left hook honey punch – that he buries into ribs and skulls – is firing better than at any point in his career, and amazingly for a fighter with so much baggage, he has ironed out flaws that hampered him earlier in his career. Critics loudly undermine his victory over Sergio Martinez because of the Argentine’s injuries, but such calls were quiet beforehand.

Not only that, he has added a canniness to his spite, the kind of in-ring intelligence only common in the elite, and the kind not yet found in Saul Alvarez. For all of the Mexican’s strengths, and there are plenty, he remains a work in progress. He still launches punches that leave him wide open to the kind of clever retorts that Cotto excels in – and he can be outboxed. Cotto has proved himself, several times, in fights like this. Alvarez has not.

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