By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Faced with a bigger, skillful fighter, Canelo Alvarez answered the challenge Saturday night.
The Mexican superstar defeated Daniel Jacobs by unanimous decision in their 12-round middleweight title unification fight before a crowd of 20,203 at T-Mobile Arena. All three judges – Connecticut’s Glenn Feldman (116-112), Nevada’s Dave Moretti (115-113) and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld (115-113) – scored their fight for Alvarez in the main event of an eight-bout card streamed by DAZN.
Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) out-worked Jacobs to retain the WBA and WBC middleweight titles he won from Gennadiy Golovkin on September 15 at T-Mobile Arena. The former junior middleweight and super middleweight champ also captured the IBF middleweight crown from Brooklyn’s Jacobs (36-3, 29 KOs), a cancer survivor who came back to win middleweight titles twice.
“It was just what we thought,” Alvarez told DAZN’s Chris Mannix through a translator. “We knew he was gonna be a difficult fighter. But thank God we did things the right way, the things we were supposed to do.”
The 28-year-old Alvarez went off as a 6-1 favorite Saturday night at MGM Grand’s sports book, but the fight unfolded closer than the odds suggested.
According to unofficial CompuBox statistics, the 5-feet-8 Alvarez landed more power punches and jabs than the 6-feet Jacobs. CompuBox credited Alvarez with landing 188-of-466 overall punches, 57 more than Jacobs (131-of-649).
Alvarez landed 120-of-264 power punches, whereas Jacobs connected on 89-of-359. CompuBox scored 68-of-202 jabs for Alvarez, 26 more than Jacobs (42-of-290).
The gritty Alvarez again showed one of boxing’s best chins against a powerful opponent. He slipped a considerable amount of Jacobs’ punches as well.
Jacobs acknowledged that he started too slow Saturday night, yet he felt their fight was close enough for him to have been awarded a narrow victory.
“I feel accomplished; I feel great,” Jacobs said. “I have to go back and look at the tapes, to see exactly what the judges thought. But I kept in conversations with my corner, inside the breaks. They said that, to me, I was up. So, I was still pressing forward, because I still wanted to finish strong.
“But he’s a tremendous champion. I take my hat off to him. I’ve gotta go back, like I said, and look at the tapes. But I gave my all out there. We’ll see Daniel Jacobs bigger and better next time.”
The same three judges that scored Alvarez-Jacobs – Feldman, Moretti and Weisfeld – scored the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch last September at T-Mobile Arena.
Moretti and Weisfeld scored that very competitive 12-rounder the same way, 115-113 for Alvarez. Feldman scored that fight a draw (114-114), which left Alvarez a winner by majority decision.
Late in Saturday night’s fight, Jacobs slipped on wet signage and fell in the middle of the ring, which caused a brief break with 2:19 to go in the 12th round. When the action resume, Jacobs and Alvarez threw hard shots at each other, both to the head and body.
Weeks warned Jacobs for a slightly low left that landed near Alvarez’s hip about 1:15 into the 11th round. Weeks warned Alvarez for a low blow toward of the 11th as well.
In between those warnings, Alvarez landed several straight right hands to Jacobs’ head.
Alvarez and Jacobs clinched several times early in the 10th round. Each fighter landed a hard body shot later in the 10th, when Jacobs kept shaking his head up and down to let Alvarez know he was ready to continue exchanging.
Jacobs hit Alvarez with a flush left to his head about a minute into the ninth round. They traded vicious shots with about a minute to go in the ninth, but both boxers took those shots well.
By then, though, swelling had formed beneath Jacobs’ right eye.
Alvarez and Jacobs traded hard lefts to the body with just under 1:50 to go in the eighth round. Alvarez got the better of an entertaining exchange during the second half of the eighth round, including a clean, eye-catching left hook to Jacobs’ head.
Jacobs got reckless in that sequence and Alvarez capitalized on it to regain some momentum.
Alvarez complained after a clash of heads in the middle of the seventh round. Jacobs caught Alvarez with a left hand up top several seconds later.
Jacobs connected with a left hook to Alvarez’s head just over a minute into the sixth round. Jacobs boxed from a southpaw stance for much of the remainder of that round.
Backed into a neutral corner, Jacobs landed two body shots with about 20 seconds to go in the sixth, before turning and moving away from Alvarez.
Jacobs made Alvarez miss with several power shots during the middle of the fifth round. Alvarez and Jacobs motioned to one another after the fifth round ended because each fighter felt his opponent fouled him just prior to the bell sounding.
Alvarez drilled Jacobs with back-to-back stiff jabs and followed it with a crisp left hook to Jacobs’ head during the second half of the fourth round.
Alvarez and Jacobs hit each other behind the head while fighting in close around the halfway point of the fourth round. Weeks warned them for those fouls.
Jacobs turned southpaw early in the third round, but for the second time in the first three rounds Jacobs didn’t box left-handed for long. Jacobs connected with an overhand right to Alvarez’s head later in the third.
Jacobs caught Alvarez with two more left hooks to the body in the third round. Alvarez came back later in the third with a left hook that landed flush on Jacobs’ chin.
Alvarez began landing hard shots to Jacobs’ body during the second round. He hit Jacobs with a right to the body and then left hook to the head around the halfway point of the second round.
Jacobs connected with a left hook to Alvarez’s head later in the second round. They traded hard shots – Alvarez’s stiff jab and Jacobs’ left hook to the body – just before those second three minutes ended.
Jacobs briefly switched southpaw late in the first round, only to quickly go back to his orthodox stance.
Jacobs connected with a hard right to Alvarez’s body about 1:15 into the first round. Alvarez fired back by landing a hard right of his own to Jacobs’ body about five seconds later, as Jacobs backed toward the ropes.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.