Alvarez may not have the natural talent of Vasyl Lomachenko or Terence Crawford, but at some point, when you are making a pound-for-pound list you have to factor in the body of work.
LAS VEGAS — Here are 12 thoughts on Canelo Alvarez’s unanimous decision win over Daniel Jacobs.
1. It wasn’t the fight that was promised—but it was a pretty good fight
Alvarez (52-1-2) and Jacobs (35-3) are both big hitters, so there was an anticipation, if not an expectation, of fireworks. But save for some good body work by Alvarez in the early rounds and a jaw-snapping left hand from Jacobs in the ninth, neither fighter landed anything big and neither fighter was in trouble. Jacobs started slow, allowing Alvarez to build up a lead on some of the early feel-out rounds. As he often does, Jacobs shifted between orthodox and southpaw, but Canelo wasn’t fooled and landed his biggest shots when Jacobs pivoted into the southpaw stance.
Alvarez’s defenses were brilliant: Jacobs landed 20% of his total punches, per CompuBox. He landed an average of 32% in his previous eight fights. Jacobs connected on seven power shots per round; he averaged 12 in his last eight fights. As he did in his last fight, against Rocky Fielding, Alvarez targeted the body, landing 58 of his 188 punches to Jacobs's midsection.
Still, just like he did in a 2017 test against Gennady Golovkin, Jacobs rallied. He pressed the action more in the second half of the fight, while Alvarez seemed content to fight more off the ropes. It was just too little, too late.
2. Alvarez continues to improve
Once, there were questions about Canelo Alvarez’s chin; in his American debut, against Jose Miguel Cotto in 2010, he was rocked by Cotto in the first round. After 24 rounds with Golovkin, those questions are long gone. Then, it was his skills. After outdueling Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout at 154 pounds and outpointing the two top dogs at 160, you can make a case that Alvarez is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world (more on that below). Against Jacobs, Alvarez showcased terrific defenses, highlighted by steady head movement that prevented Jacobs from mounting any time of sustained attack.
3. So … is Alvarez No. 1?
Alvarez may not have the natural talent of Vasyl Lomachenko or Terence Crawford, but at some point, when you are making a pound-for-pound list you have to factor in the body of work. For the last decade, Alvarez has prioritized facing top opponents and, save for a loss to Floyd Mayweather and a draw with Golovkin, he has beaten them. Jacobs was a legit, top-three middleweight and while the fight was close, Alvarez was the clear winner. His résumé is far superior to Lomachenko’s or Crawford. He has a strong case to be ranked No. 1.
4. It might be time for Jacobs to move up
Jacobs is a big middleweight—he often rehydrates 15-20 pounds after weigh-ins, which is why Golden Boy Promotions insisted on a 10-pound rehydration clause for the day of the fight. Jacobs came in 3.5 pounds over that weight, and was forced to pay Alvarez an almost-one-million-dollar penalty. Before facing Alvarez, staying at middleweight made sense; now, with losses to Golovkin and Alvarez on his résumé, moving up might make more.
There are opportunities for Jacobs at 168 pounds. A solid debut could come against David Lemieux, an ex-middleweight titleholder who has been plagued by injury issues of his own. Lemieux was supposed to be the co-main event of Canelo-Jacobs before an injury forced him to withdraw. A Jacobs-Lemieux fight in the fall is makeable—both fight on the DAZN platform—and the winner would be a strong candidate to face Callum Smith, the 168-pound kingpin who will make his ring return on June 1st.
At 32, Jacobs could be beginning the final chapter of his career. It makes sense for him to do it in the super middleweight division.
5. What’s next for Alvarez?
DAZN, heavily invested in the Canelo business after signing him to an 11-fight deal that could be worth as much as $365 million, badly wants a third fight between Canelo and Golovkin in the fall. Alvarez, though, doesn’t seem very interested in it. He considers the business with Golovkin to be finished, he told me in the ring on Saturday, but added if there is a strong demand for the fight, he is ready for it.
What Alvarez is very interested in, he said, is becoming the undisputed middleweight champion. Before he moved up to face Rocky Fielding in December, Alvarez didn’t consider the undisputed championship a priority. His trainer, Eddy Reynoso, turned him around on it, he told me before the fight, and now he wants to make it happen. That could mean Demetrius Andrade, the WBO titleholder, who will defend his belt on June 29th.
6. Speaking of Golovkin…
The former middleweight champion was ringside, presumably to begin hyping a third fight with Alvarez. He was there with his new trainer, Johnathon Banks—the former cruiserweight title challenger best known for taking over the training of Wladimir Klitschko in the aftermath of the passing of Emanuel Steward—who stepped in for Abel Sanchez. Golovkin will continue to train in Big Bear (what are the odds he will run into Sanchez at the supermarket?) and insisted that the split with Sanchez had nothing to do with money, as Sanchez has said, and everything to do with his need to shake things up in the aftermath of the loss to Canelo last September.
7. Will Golden Boy seek a softer touch?
As Oscar De La Hoya told me last week: “Sometimes we have to save Canelo from himself.” Golden Boy wants to make sure it maximizes Alvarez’s career, and that could mean steering him toward softer touches. Golden Boy has tried to make Lemieux a viable Alvarez opponent, but Lemieux’s weight issues and recent injury have stalled those plans. DAZN wants to make Alvarez-Golovkin III, but there have already been grumblings from Golden Boy officials about Golovkin getting a soft touch in June while Alvarez will be coming off a tough 12-round fight. This part of the negotiation bears watching.
8. Will Alvarez be ready to fight in September?
The issues Alvarez has been having with his left knee is something I brought up on the DAZN broadcast, and bears repeating here: During training camp for the Fielding fight, Alvarez began experiencing pain in the left knee. It was significant enough that he cut down on his road work and wore a sleeve to protect the knee during the fight. The knee continued to bother him during training for the Jacobs fight, and on fight night he wore the sleeve again. Alvarez told me he did the least amount of road work for this fight than he has done in his entire career and that the injury is bothersome enough that he plans to get it checked out in the days and weeks to come. If Alvarez needs a procedure—last year, he had a minor surgery on his right knee—it could push his next fight into later in the year—or longer.
9. Welcome to the big stage, Vergil Ortiz Jr.
The early favorite for Prospect of the Year: That would be Ortiz, a menacing, 21-year-old welterweight who extended his knockout streak to 13 when he bulldozed the durable Mauricio Herrera in three rounds. Herrera is well past his prime, but this is a guy who was robbed of a world title against Danny Garcia in 2014, and should have had another notable win against Jose Benavidez Jr. later that year. He had eight losses, but none of them had been by knockout—until he ran into Ortiz, who systematically destroyed him.
Ortiz, who is trained by Robert Garcia, is a blend of blunt power and surprising polish. He has had the benefit of working with Garcia and sparring with the great fighters in Garcia’s gym, including Mikey Garcia, Lucas Matthysse and Jose Ramirez.
Ortiz said he would like to drop back to 140 pounds for a couple of fights before making the move to 147 permanent. But regardless of weight class, Ortiz is going to be a problem. Expect titleholders to avoid him for as long as possible.
10. And goodbye, Sadam Ali
The biggest upset of the night came in the prelims, when lightly regarded welterweight Anthony Young shocked Ali in a third-round knockout. Young took the fight to Ali early and appeared to hurt him with a body shot in the third round. Ali refused to take a knee to recover, however, and as the round continued, Young buried Ali in punches until the referee stepped in to stop the fight. It was a huge win for Young, the New Jersey-based fighter who pocketed his first significant win, and a devastating loss for Ali, the former junior middleweight titleholder who was gearing up for another run at welterweight.
11. And can we get Tevin Farmer vs. Jo Jo Diaz?
Diaz, a former title challenger at 126 pounds, won his second fight in a row since moving up to 130, brutalizing the durable Freddy Fonseca for seven rounds before Fonseca’s corner threw in the towel. At the pre-fight press conference, Diaz got into it with Tevin Farmer, a 130-pound titleholder; after the fight, Diaz called Farmer out. Farmer-Diaz is a good fight, and a makeable one. Farmer has to deal with a mandatory challenge this summer, but expect to see a fight with Diaz materialize later this year.
12. Matchroom vs. Golden Boy
Eddie Hearn had an interesting idea at the post-fight press conference: A DAZN-streamed show featuring fighters from his company, Matchroom Boxing, and De La Hoya’s Golden Boy. How about this, for September:
· Canelo (Golden Boy) vs. Andrade (Matchroom)
· Jacobs (Matchroom) vs. Lemieux (GBP)
· Farmer (Matchroom) vs. Diaz (GBP)
· Jaime Munguia (GBP) vs. Jessie Vargas (Matchroom)
An expensive card? Definitely. A card that would generate a huge amount of buzz in the industry and push DAZN subscriptions? Absolutely.