Big fight tonight in Las Vegas as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez looks to pick up another middleweight belt as he faces Daniel Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena. The fight will be available on the DAZN streaming service and is Canelo’s second bout of an 11 fight $365 million deal with DAZN. This was considered a ‘can’t miss’ fight all along and there’s been some bad blood established between the two fighters over the past 24 hours after the prefight promotion for the event was downright civil.
It all started at Friday’s weigh in and more specifically at the traditional ‘face to face’ pose that you’ve seen a million times before. During the face off the fighters put their heads together which made for a nice visual but then Jacobs tried to use his forehead to push Alvarez backwards. Canelo responded with a shove and the two camps quickly rushed in before anything serious could happen. Both men made weight at the time as Canelo weighed in at 159.5 pounds and Jacobs coming in at the division limit of 160 pounds.
The fight got even more acrimonious on Saturday morning. Since Jacobs is the naturally larger man Team Alvarez insisted upon a weight check the morning of the fight. The goal was to prevent Jacobs from rehydrating to a weight that would make a mockery of the division’s 160 pound limit. Both fighters were checked at 8 AM Pacific and were supposed to come in at 170 or below. Jacobs appears to have ignored that completely–he was well over the limit at 173.6 pounds. Alvarez came in at 169 pounds. The fight will still take place with Jacobs losing a reported $1 million of his purse.
He also made Canelo angry according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya:
“Jacobs came in heavy. It is what it is. We spoke to Canelo, and his attitude is, ‘I don’t care. I’m still gonna kick his ass.’ Canelo is pissed off, and he wants to kick his ass. Canelo was 169, solid and feeling stronger than ever. But the fact that Jacobs came in heavy tells you a lot. It tells you how unsure he is in himself.”
De La Hoya didn’t sound particularly concerned about Jacobs’ weight:
“My thought is, as long as both guys made 160 and Canelo looked the stronger fighter during the weigh-in [Friday], that’s all that matters. We have a fight.”
Alvarez will give up a two inch height advantage and a 2.5 inch reach advantage to Jacobs. Otherwise, the matchup appears to favor Canelo in just about every phase. He is four years younger than Jacobs but the more experienced fighter–he’s not only had significantly more fights than his opponent but he’s fought against a better class of opponent. Alvarez is 51-1-2 with 35 knockouts which includes decision wins over Gennady Golovkin and Miguel Cotto. His only loss came to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Jacobs is 35-2 with 29 KO victories. His best quality wins came against a couple of good but not great fighters in Caleb Truax and Sergio Mora. His losses were to Dimitry Pirog by 5th round TKO in 2010 and to Gennady Golovkin by unanimous decision in 2017.
On balance, Alvarez is the better all around fighter and has more ways to win than Jacobs. Jacobs would need to stay on the outside, keep moving and use his superior height and reach to score while frustrating Alvarez. He also needs to keep his workrate up as it will help keep Canelo from getting inside where he can do damage. That’s easier said than done and unless Jacobs has been channeling the spirit of the late, great trainer Emmanuel Stewart–he had a long legacy of training tall fighters to leverage their size–it’s unclear if he’s even got the ability to pull it off. Jacobs has shown a tendency to lose focus during a fight and get sloppy on defense. Both would be extremely dangerous against Alvarez.
Canelo is likely the more powerful of the two men despite the size differential. He doesn’t have the pop at 160 that he did at 154 or 147 but he’s got a skill set that is ultimately superior to brute strength. He’s become a very accurate puncher over the course of his career and is easily a better counterpuncher than Jacobs. He’s also develop the focus of a champion and the ability to fight tactically to win rounds. It’s also difficult to see the popular Mexican warrior losing a decision in Las Vegas–and particularly with Dave Moretti, Glenn Feldman and Steve Weisfeld at ringside scoring the action. This trio gave Canelo the narrow victory over Gennady Golovkin last September. Tony Weeks will be the third man in the ring–along with Kenny Bayless he’s considered to be among the finest referees in the sport. He’s also likely to let Canelo work in the clinch to close the distance with the taller man.
The price is tough to lay with Alvarez a -500 favorite though I expect him to win the fight. As noted before, he doesn’t need to knock out Jacobs to win and in many ways a 12 round decision would be a more impressive route to victory. It’s also a better betting value and the way we’ll play it. Jacobs would likely need the knockout to win and that’s going to be hard to come by against Alvarez. If the legitimately fearsome Gennady Golovkin (38 wins, 34 by KO) couldn’t do it in 24 rounds against Alvarez it doesn’t bode well for Jacobs. I expect to see Alvarez dominate throughout in what should finally cement his place as a truly elite prizefighter and not just a box office sensation.