LAS VEGAS — Daniel Jacobs is going to watch the replay of his fight with Canelo Alvarez sometime in the next few days and is going to be furious with himself. He lost a fight, the biggest of his career, that he could easily have won.
Alvarez will watch the same bout and beam ear-to-ear.
He’s no longer the young-and-inexperienced guy he was in 2013 when he was schooled by a vastly smarter Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a bout that wasn’t nearly as close as the scores indicated.
Against Mayweather, he was out of his depth, and looked confused and out of place. Against Jacobs, he was confident, in control and in command as he showed the complete game.
He moved his head and shoulders and made Jacobs miss. He used his feet to create angles to land his punches. He pushed the pace when Jacobs was searching for answers, particularly in the early rounds, and put rounds in the bank that made a difference when Jacobs found something in the second half of the bout.
Alvarez added Jacobs’ IBF belt to the WBA and WBC championships he brought with him. If it wasn’t abundantly clear before, Alvarez controls what will happen in the middleweight division.
His former rival, Gennadiy Golovkin, was at ringside to watch and campaign for a third bout with him. They fought to a draw in 2017 and Alvarez won the rematch in 2018. A third fight would generate a lot of money.
Alvarez, though, is intent on collecting belts and he is eyeing the WBO title held by Demetrius Andrade. Coming off their scintillating September bout, Alvarez won a super middleweight title in December and took on a massive challenge in Jacobs. Golovkin is taking what is essentially a lay-up fight on June 8 when he fights the largely unknown Steve Rolls.
He’s doing nothing to force Alvarez to give him another shot.
Jacobs didn’t do enough to force a rematch, either. Alvarez swept the first five rounds on Glenn Feldman’s card, and won four of the first five on the cards of Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld.
There was thus little drama down the stretch, even though Jacobs came back hard. As it turned out, the 12th round was irrelevant without a knockout as Alvarez was up by three points after 11.
“I thought Danny had a relatively poor first half of the fight but he won the back end of the fight,” Eddie Hearn, Jacobs’ promoter, said glumly at the postfight news conference.
Jacobs will go back into the mix at middleweight, and could wind up fighting Golovkin, with the winner landing a shot at Alvarez down the road. But Alvarez has numerous options because he’s willing to fight in any of three divisions.
In addition to owning almost all of the hardware at middleweight, he has a WBA title at super middleweight — though with the WBA, it’s often a cast of thousands that hold its belts — and he’s willing to fight Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight.
It’s that kind of ambition and competitive spirit that has made him arguably the game’s most popular fighter and a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
He backed up Jacobs for most of the night, even though Jacobs is a considerably bigger man. When Jacobs landed his big shot, a wide left hook that landed on the button in the ninth, Alvarez took it without a problem.
Alvarez’s trainers, Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, nearly blanched and couldn’t wait to check on him when the bell rang. They asked if he was OK and he practically scowled.
He had an almost insurmountable lead by that point because of his great early work.
“His defense was a huge factor,” Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya said. “I loved the way Canelo moved his head from all those punches in bunches that Jacobs was throwing. His combinations were lightning fast and Canelo was able to dodge them.”
Jacobs repeatedly said he had trouble finding his rhythm, but agreed with De La Hoya’s assessment of Alvarez’s overall game.
He’s no longer just a one-dimensional offensive fighter. He’s the complete package and can win any way that is required.
“He’s definitely tricky,” Jacobs said of Alvarez. “I’ve always known Canelo had great upper body movement and that’s what he showed.”
It wasn’t his best overall performance, but he beat an elite middleweight with few apparent problems.
That’s the mark of a great fighter. Alvarez didn’t have his A-game and still won. If Jacobs had his A-game, he may well have won it, but don’t mistake this: Alvarez had much to do with the issues Jacobs had getting untracked and finding his rhythm.
There is little he can’t do in the ring any longer.
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