By David Greisman
Canelo Gets Nod Over Jacobs; Will Golovkin or Andrade Be Next?
Canelo Alvarez remains the man to beat at middleweight after a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Jacobs. And that means there are a few other fighters who are awaiting their shot, or in some cases another shot, at the cash cow of the 160-pound division and one of the biggest superstars in the sport.
The fight itself featured solid performances from each man, though neither was offensively spectacular. Sometimes that’s the case when two top boxers stand in against each other, when they temper their output and emphasize defense out of respect for their opponent.
That’s not to say that there was no action. This wasn’t at all a repeat of the previous week’s dud involving lightweights Rances Barthelemy and Robert Easter. But there were few moments when this fight kicked into a frenetic gear. The pace of the action — and the competitiveness of each round — meant the fight was at times hard to score.
For proof, look no further than the judges.
It’s not that they disagreed on who won. All three judges had Canelo on top. Two judges had it 115-113, or seven rounds to five. The third judge had it 116-112, or eight rounds to four.
Where they differed is in how they got there. They unanimously agreed in only seven of the 12 rounds. They all saw Canelo taking Rounds 2-5, gave Round 6 to Jacobs, Round 8 to Canelo, and Round 9 to Jacobs.
These were two capable fighters who wanted to make certain they didn’t get caught with something heavy. They knew they’d have to focus on vigilance over violence.
The first round kicked off slow, with little of note beyond body shots for each. A left hook that landed for Jacobs toward the end of the round may have given him the edge. Canelo emphasized his jab at the start of the second. He then sent a left hook to the body but ate a Jacobs counter left in return, a reminder of the danger Jacobs posed. Still, Canelo didn’t shut down out of caution. He picked his spots, looping a right around Jacobs’ gloves, and later on sent a hook upstairs and a right uppercut to the body.
Jacobs switched back and forth from his traditional orthodox stance to southpaw throughout the fight. It rarely seemed to give him much of an advantage, if any, and didn’t seem to throw Canelo off at all. Indeed, Canelo used the third round to trap Jacobs on the ropes and land a few shots.
Canelo is a versatile fighter. He’s been a puncher against fighters with weaker chins, put pressure on Golovkin and fought him in the middle of the ring in their rematch last year, and showed a good ability to slip punches against Jacobs in this fight, using his speed advantage to stand right in front of the taller fighter and make him miss, particularly in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Jacobs outworked Alvarez in the sixth, and he landed a couple of good left hooks in the seventh. He began to kick up his activity in the eighth, throwing 79 punches, tied for the most he’d do in a single round, according to CompuBox. But Alvarez’s accuracy trumped Jacobs’ activity that round. If Jacobs was throwing more, then he was there to be hit. Alvarez landed more than half of what he sent out that round, going 27 of 52 in total, including 15 of 28 with power punches.
The eighth round had provided the most sustained action, with back-and-forth exchanges. This wasn’t a sign of a firefight to come. The ninth was comparatively slower, and a single flush left hook from Jacobs may have won him the round. Canelo demonstrated his underrated chin and took it fine.
After nine rounds, all three judges had Canelo ahead 97-94, or six rounds to three. Jacobs had no way of knowing, but he needed to win all three remaining rounds to get the draw. They battled competitively, and Canelo’s accuracy — eye-catching single-shots in particular — helped him win enough of the rounds to come out on top.
It was another close defeat for Jacobs (now 35-3 with 29 knockouts), who also felt he had a good case for victory when he met Gennady Golovkin about two years ago.
“I have to go back and look at the tapes to see exactly what the judges thought,” Jacobs said afterward. “I feel like I gave enough tonight to get the victory.”
Jacobs is a good boxer, but he just hasn’t been able to differentiate himself enough in the biggest of fights. As with what I said back then, Jacobs will deserve another shot.
Perhaps Jacobs could face whoever doesn’t get Canelo next. The two names being mentioned are Golovkin — who drew with Canelo in 2017 and then lost a narrow decision to him last year — and titleholder Demetrius Andrade. There’s also Billy Joe Saunders, who’ll be fighting at super middleweight in a couple of weeks, and Jermall Charlo, more of a long shot candidate given that he has a different promoter and tends to fight on other networks.
Alvarez, who moves to 52-1-2 with 35 KOs, continues to triumph against the upper echelon. His only loss came to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013. There’s no shame in that; everyone lost to Mayweather. Canelo’s continued to improve since then and has picked up wins over names such as Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Golovkin and now Jacobs.
He’ll need to continue to face big names — and will need to continue to win — in order to make good on a contract with streaming network DAZN that, according to the figures reported, make him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
He’s the cash cow. He’s the champion. And he’s a good fighter. And there are plenty of foes out there who will help show just how good he is.
“I’m just looking for the biggest challenge,” Alvarez said. “That’s all I want.”
Undercard Action: Vergil Ortiz KOs Herrera, Lamont Roach Beats Oquendo
The best highlight of the show belonged to Vergil Ortiz, an undefeated 21-year-old prospect who’s mostly fought at 140 pounds. He moved up to 147 for this spotlight on the Canelo-Jacobs undercard, becoming the first person to stop the usually durable former contender Mauricio Herrera.
Ortiz hurt Herrera in the first, knocked him down in the second, and had him out on his feet after landing a big right hand in the third.
“I had the fight figured out after the first round,” Ortiz said. “He was keeping his left hand down the whole time, and I knew I was fast enough to capitalize on that.”
Ortiz is now 13-0 with 13 knockouts. He plans to return to junior welterweight. Herrera is now 24-9 with 7 KOs. He’s lost four of his last six. This was the first time he failed to see the final bell. At 38 years old, and after about 12 years as a pro, it may be time for him to hang them up rather than continuing on as the B-side against younger, dangerous opponents.
Also on the show, Lamont Roach Jr. had to fight through a bloody nose and a tough challenge from Jonathan Oquendo, winning a unanimous decision that seemed closer than the scorecards indicated.
Two judges had it 97-92, or seven rounds to three with a point deducted from Oquendo for a head butt, while the other judge had it 96-93, or six rounds to four.
Oquendo was once a perpetual bridesmaid who had fallen short at 122 and 126 against recognizable names such as Juan Manuel Lopez (who knocked him out in 2008), Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (who stopped him in 2010), and Abner Mares (by decision in 2014). But Oquendo resuscitated his career in 2015, taking a decision over Jhonny Gonzalez. He lost his next outing, a decision loss to featherweight titleholder Jesus Cuellar.
That put Oquendo on the shelf for a bit. He rested for about a year and a half, fought once in 2017, took another year off and then had three wins last year. He still had something left to offer against Roach.
Roach, who’s just 23 years old, needs tests like these in order to grow — so long as there are lessons he can learn, instead of limitations that are being exposed. He’s now 19-0-1 with 7 KOs.
Oquendo is 30-6 with 19 KOs. He won’t ever be at the top of any division he’s in, but don’t be surprised if he scores an upset someday over an overconfident prospect.