On Cinco De Mayo weekend, or May 4 to be exact, boxing fans are in for a real treat. The sport’s undisputed pay-per-view king, Saul Canelo Alvarez, faces one of the best fighters at middleweight in Daniel Jacobs. For Canelo fans, it is a true step up from the routine win over Britain’s Rocky Fielding in December. While that fight was a foregone conclusion, ironically, the real “Rocky” story on Canelo’s resume will be against Jacobs.
Despite being diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2011 – a rare form of bone cancer – Jacobs, nicknamed the “Miracle Man,” returned to the ring and became a champion. The 32-year-old has just two losses on his record, with the last coming to former Canelo foe, Gennady Golovkin, in 2017. There were many observers of that bout who had the New Yorker winning the fight over the Kazakh knockout artist.
While that night belonged to “GGG,” Jacobs carried on doing what he does best: fighting. Three decisions later against admittedly weaker opposition led to Jacobs winning the IBF middleweight title in October. Now, as he sees it, he will enter the most important bout of his life, aiming to dethrone the biggest star in the sport of boxing. For fans, this is as good as it gets.
In this sport, super fights are few and far between. Modern day boxing has instead resorted to building up contests between a stronger boxer and someone considerably weaker as a big fight. Of course, there are many that might not be aware of Jacobs as a significant threat, therefore putting the term “super fight” on the back burner, but to those in the know, this is arguably the Mexican’s toughest test outside of trilogy bout against Golovkin.
Ok, so no surprises to see Canelo favored for this one. After all, the Mexican has a draw and a victory – in that order – over a man who beat Jacobs in Gennady Golovkin. While Canelo is the top draw at middleweight, there are many who believe that his career has been a little overmanaged in recent times. Matchups against Amir Khan – who fought most of his career between 135 and 147lbs – and the recent bout against Fielding, have certainly gone a long way in backing that up.
However, you cannot take the man’s resume out of the question when discussing his upward trajectory towards where he finds himself today. The Mexican is just 28, even though it feels as if he has been around forever. He has victories over the likes of GGG, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto, Erislandy Lara, and Khan, and has also shared the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The biggest deal in boxing history was signed off between Canelo and DAZN in 2018. This certainly gives fans hope that Canelo will be engaging in some of the juicier bouts out there. Now that this fight has been signed off, it certainly appears that we will get more and more of the bigger names pitted against the middleweight king over the next few years. Jacobs is, undoubtedly, the biggest name that Alvarez has yet to face in the division.
The Brooklyn, New York-native will be aiming to prove to Canelo that it was a mistake taking a fight with him. Jacobs is a consummate boxer, with fast hands, great footwork, and a genuinely impressive ring IQ. The bookmakers’ odds, at +230, hardly suggest that he will be the biggest threat to Canelo’s crown, but the Mexican is simply that good that there are few fighters in the world that could come in against him as a favorite.
Canelo, is the obvious answer here.
The Mexican is one of the best boxers, pound for pound, on the planet. He is a fighter that has showcased excellence in defense and attack. He has brutal knockout power and a solid defense, as proven in his two bouts against “GGG.” We saw an excellent distance management game against the Kazakh, and impressive use of the shoulder roll and space around the ring to get away from the mid-range punching prowess of his opponent.
Jacobs is a silky fighter who has the speed to trouble Canelo. However, in his title-winning performance against Derevychenko last year, he did expose a number of holes in his game that will be enticing to his opponent on May 4. While he looked slick at times, and exchanged well with the Ukrainian, he did not employ the type of head movement and technical defense that will be needed against Alvarez.
At times, he looked blase. While these are things that will likely be addressed before the biggest bout of his life, he must ensure not to get carried away against a fighter that can end the contest in the blink of an eye. Rather than being planted to the canvas, he will need to use his feet to get around the ring, employing lateral movement in order to keep Canelo out of range and constantly guessing.
As most boxing fans will agree, the only way of beating Canelo is by outthinking him and out-maneuvering him. If not, it will either be a very long – or a very short night – for Jacobs.
Although controversial, I would also argue that Jacobs needs to put in the performance of his life in order to beat the Mexican. As we have seen before, the judges tend to be on his side. He was given one judge’s decision following a schooling at the hands of Mayweather, while there are many who believe he lost both bouts to Golovkin. Unless Jacobs knocks him out, he will find it difficult to get the decision in a close bout.
Make no mistake, this is as tough a test as they come for the Guadalajara-native. Jacobs is taller and has a better reach than Golovkin, with a varied skill set that can, and will, trouble him. Jacobs’ hand speed, in particular, will make this a true test for Canelo. He will most certainly not be aiming to land a lucky punch, but draw the fight out utilizing his exceptional technique and boxing skills.
While one of Jacobs two losses inside the ring came by KO – against the Russian Dmitry Pirog in 2010 – he has never come close to being troubled in the same way since. Since his miraculous recovery from cancer, he has looked even better at times, indicating that he has matured into a considerably strong and gifted fighter. After all, he ended Golovkin’s 22-fight run of stoppages with that narrow defeat in 2017.
Canelo is on another level compared to many other fighters in the game. He has all the rudimentary bases covered, so to speak, and has true knockout power. His pressure game and distance management are excellent, with his offensive capabilities among the best in the game. The Mexican is as all-rounded as you will see in the sport, which causes Jacobs trouble from the outset.
While I don’t believe Canelo will knock Jacobs out, I do think that he will drop him at some point in the fight. This alone will be worth a lot of persuasions when it comes to the judges presenting their scorecards at the end of the bout. While this may be construed as being a little negative, there are many – including Jacobs himself – who believe that the judges will be looking to help Canelo win if it does go the distance:
“Let’s hope the judges are fair. I’m definitely one of the strongest opponents Canelo has faced. ‘GGG’ is not as fast as me. I am taller, I have more range, and I think I’ll win, I’ll use my best attributes, and I’ll win by decision or even by knockout,” Jacobs told Fighthype.com.
I am genuinely stoked for this bout, as I believe it has “Fight of the Year” written all over it. Jacobs will undoubtedly cause Canelo problems, with his hand speed and technical advantages. Aside from Golovkin, there is no other boxer out there that can test the Mexican like Jacobs can, so this, in itself, is worthy of the pay-per-view price alone. Given that the bout will occur on Cinco De Mayo weekend, this only makes things even more juicier.
After all, we haven’t seen Alvarez lose a fight – at least, officially – since his majority decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Canelo has come a long, long way since then, too, and has improved immensely in time between that fight and this one. He is the biggest star of the sport in the world and will be aiming to please DAZN with a dominant performance in what is the second fight of his multi-million dollar contract.
Unfortunately for Canelo, I believe Jacobs’ style is all wrong for him and will cause him trouble throughout the fight. While I think that the younger man is primed to take the win on the night, I am convinced that Jacobs is going to make it very hard for him. He will not walk through the American, as some think, but will be forced to reach into his toolbox to work him out and find the answers to the questions he poses.
If anything, I see this fight being a close one. I think we are in store for 12 rounds of excellent boxing that will invariably be decided by three individuals in suits with pens and scorecards. Naturally, I hope that the fight is a fair one – and that there are no liberties taken or bias afforded to either side – with the true winner emerging from the contest as the best in the division.
Do I think Jacobs can do it? I believe if all goes well, he can shock the world. However, as modern history has taught us, you simply do not back against Canelo.
Prediction: Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to Win at -300