Canelo Álvarez outpoints Daniel Jacobs to unify middleweight title belts

The red-headed Mexican won a close, often tense but uncontroversial decision over Daniel Jacobs in their middleweight championship unification fight

Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez won a close, often tense but uncontroversial decision over Daniel Jacobs in their hotly anticipated middleweight championship unification fight on Saturday night before a rollicking Cinco de Mayo weekend crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ringside judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld turned in cards of 115-113, while Glenn Feldman scored it 116-112. (The Guardian had it 115-113 to Canelo.)

Álvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs), added Jacobs’ IBF belt to the WBA and WBC titles that he won from Gennady Golovkin in their second encounter last September. Four years after capturing the lineal title from Miguel Cotto to establish a foothold in the division, the redhead from Guadalajara has all but cleaned it out.

“It was just what we thought, we knew he was going to be a difficult fighter,” said Álvarez after winning for the second time since signing a five-year, $365m deal with the streaming service DAZN. “It was just what we thought because of the style of fight that he brings, but we just did our job.”

Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham)

Here’s the official scorecard for #CaneloJacobs. I had it 115-113 to Canelo. pic.twitter.com/k8zSZJ2mSL

May 5, 2019

Jacobs (35-3, 29 KOs), who went off as a 6-1 underdog, had trouble finding the elusive Álvarez for long stretches of the fight before tweaking his tactics and coming on strong in the second half, landing 131 of 649 punches (20%), compared to 118 of 466 (40%) for Álvarez, whose patience, poise and exquisite technique were on full display for 12 rounds.

“I feel accomplished, l feel great. I have to go back to look at the tapes to see exactly what the judges thought,” an upbeat Jacobs said. “They said to me [in the corner] that I was up, so I was still pushing forward because I wanted to finish strong. He’s a tremendous champion, and I tip my hat to him. I gave my all out there.”

Álvarez was the more active fighter from the opening bell, defiantly stalking the the 5ft 11½in Jacobs despite his three-and-a-half-inch advantages in height and reach. The Brooklyn native was able to use his rangy left jab to keep Álvarez at bay, but scoring with consistency was a different matter as his pursuer used deft upper-body movement to make his opponent miss again and again. By the third Jacobs was already looking gun-shy and confused while the composed Álvarez appeared completely at ease, happy in his work as he strode through the bigger man’s punches.

“He was a fast guy, very slippery,” Jacobs said. “It definitely took me a couple rounds to get my wits about me, to figure out his rhythm, because he’s a pot-shotter.”

Canelo
Canelo Álvarez celebrates after Saturday’s decision was announced. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

The tide began to shift in the fifth when Jacobs began to enjoy pockets of success after switching to a southpaw stance. Álvarez continued to move forward and score, but it was a desperately needed second-act wrinkle in a fight that was in danger of slipping into one-sided monotony. Jacobs switched again to the left-handed stance in the seventh and began tagging Álvarez with power shots, trapping his opponent along the ropes and opening up with shots to the body as a hush fell on the near-sellout crowd of 20,203.

The two-way action heated up from there. Firefights broke out all over the ring in the eighth with Álvarez getting the better of the exchanges. The Mexican burst forward at the start of the ninth and caved in Jacobs’ ribcage with a thudding left, but Jacobs cracked back with massive shots, including a devastating left hook that stopped Canelo in his tracks, to win the round on all three judges’ cards. Even as Jacobs came on, Álvarez was still making him miss excessively, keeping his composure under extreme duress. Both fighters looked exhausted in the championship rounds, but Canelo was able to hold off Jacobs’ rally with pinpoint punching and superior defense to earn a decision that drew virtually zero protest let alone calls for a rematch.

The day had started with a hint of controversy when Jacobs came in 3.7lbs over the contracted rehydration limit of 170lbs at a weight check that had been scheduled for Saturday morning, a stipulation demanded by Álvarez’s team during the negotiations because they held all the cards. The cost of the blown weight check was steep (a cool $250,000 per pound), but the inference was simple enough: Jacobs was not willing to sacrifice performance for weight and content to forfeit nearly $1m of his $10m guarantee for the best chance of winning.

Jacobs, 32, admitted the strain of making the middleweight limit is becoming untenable.

“It is taking a toll on my body and it’s showing,” said Jacobs, who nearly died from a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer in 2011, miraculously returning to the most elite level of the sports. “I might have outgrown the middleweight division, and I might take my talents to super middleweight.”

Having unified three of the four major title belts at 160lbs, Álvarez, who earned $35m for Saturday’s work, may target WBO champion Demetrius Andrade for his customary September fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend and fulfill his long-held goal of becoming an undisputed champion. But a third fight with Golovkin, who turned 37 last month, would be a bigger hit commercially. Both are signed with DAZN and both took in the fight from ringside.

Golovkin, for his part, did his best to juice a third installment, describing Saturday’s fight, during which neither man was knocked down or in serious trouble, as “boring” and “just a sparring match”. The crowd-pleasing Kazakh would desperately like another crack at the signature win of his career.

“It was a little boring because they are both high-level boxers,” said Golovkin, whom many believed won the first Álvarez in September 2017, which was declared a split draw. “They should give more to the audience, the boxing community. I didn’t see any emotions. I didn’t see anything special. Just a good sparring match.”

Whoever is next, they’ll have their hands full with boxing’s biggest star. Álvarez is fast, hits hard, has great movement and really can take a punch. He is in great shape and he always looks strong. It’s tough to beat that combination of skills. And at 28, the sense persists among supporters and skeptics alike that we’ve yet to see his best.

“I’m just looking for the biggest challenge,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. That’s what I was born for: to fight, to defend what’s mine. I’ll fight anyone.”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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