In an outcome that probably surprised no one, Canelo Alvarez outpointed Daniel Jacobs to unify their trio of middleweight titles at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. The pair delivered for fight fans over 12 grueling rounds on Cinco de Mayo, but it was the Mexican superstar who walked away with the WBC, WBA and IBF straps.
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The win extends Alvarez’s impressive ledger to 52-1-2 with 35 knockouts while Jacobs drops to 35-3 with 29 knockouts.
Judges appeared to get it right this time despite perceptions of biased scoring in past Alvarez fights. Two scored the fight 115-113 for Canelo, and the other had it 116-112 for the now unified 160-pound champion. Jacobs certainly had his moments but did not stay busy enough to earn the decision.
A bit of pre-fight drama unfolded during their intense stare down when Jacobs missed the contracted 170-pound rehydration clause mandated by Alvarez. He weighed in early Saturday morning at 173.6 pounds, but it did not derail the fight or threaten his status as IBF champion. However, the Brooklyn-based fighter was penalized a $1 million fine in a move that was probably strategic to give him a size advantage.
In truth, Jacobs had a legitimate shot of winning and could have done much more, especially if he fought a little harder over the first half of the fight. He appeared timid and lackluster at times. Jacobs’ own promotor Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing commented that he looked flat and wondered whether he should move up to 168.
The rounds were closer than even the scoring implied, but it was Canelo who landed the cleaner, harder shots and was the more aggressive fighter. His defense was also top notch as he used good head movement and ring generalship to make Jacobs miss badly at times. Jacobs was most effective when he let his hands go and stung Alvarez with combinations.
Alvarez did an excellent job of evading Jacobs’ pawing jab and offsetting the bigger man with strong uppercuts and economical body punches. Jacobs appeared to be searching for answers throughout the first several rounds but found his form around the seventh where he landed some power shots to the head and backed Canelo into the ropes.
Jacobs probably landed the best punch of the night when he nailed Canelo in the ninth round with a huge left hand, but the Mexican took the punch well. Neither fighter managed to hurt the other throughout the contest despite landing heavy leather.
Canelo showed his vulnerability when Jacobs fought him from the outside. It was here that Jacobs’ size and length was most noticeable as Canelo was unable to land anything. However, Jacobs failed to capitalize by not fully committing to the jab. In all, Alvarez did enough by bagging the early rounds with his aggression and benefitted from Jacobs’ puzzling inactivity to get the nod.
“It’s just what we thought,” Alvarez said via translator after the bout. “We knew he would be a difficult fighter, but we did things the right way, the way we were supposed to. It was just what we thought. We did our jobs.”
Jacobs said he thought he won the fight but admitted to his struggles along the way. “It took me a couple of rounds to get my wits about me and figure out his rhythm.”
The only belt that Alvarez doesn’t have now is the WBO championship owned by Demetrius Andrade. He was at ringside along with ex-foe and former unified champion Gennady Golovkin, who recently teamed up with new trainer Jonathan Banks for his June 8 return on DAZN.
Either fight would be enticing for boxing fans and given Alvarez’s well-earned reputation for taking on the biggest challenges, we could see those fights happening soon.