Some expected a brawl, others a controversy and when it was over and Canelo Alvarez had his hands raised there was just praise, acceptance and a shrug from Danny Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena, off the The strip in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Alvarez was too smart, too slick and at some point Jacobs, once known as Golden Child in boxing, suffered the awful realisation that his best would not be enough; when good fighters are hit with that moment under the lights the fight is often over. Jacobs is a very good fighter, but he was reduced to being a dance partner against Alvarez at times and his purse of ten million dollars will, contrary to modern thinking, only just soften the experience.
It is a pity it was not a bloody classic as they had pushed, snarled and promised a slug fest, a fight to the brutal finish and there was a chance that their styles might mix favourably to delight the sold-out horde. Also, they each had world middleweight belts to trade in the ring, but the market place was controlled by Alvarez – subdued with caution in some ways – too easily for it to ever be a great fight and to be honest, not starry-eyed hopeful, that was always going to be the outcome.
It was still a quality fight, packed with moments of skill, but lacking the show-reel highlights, the moments that send people off happy and trying to replicate the finishing punches or a piece of dazzling skill.
Strangely for a fight with just one winner and no cheap theatrics at the final bell, it was still close according to the scoring, with two of the three judges needing Jacobs to win just one more round for it to be a draw. Jacobs never complained, Eddie Hearn his promoter also held his tongue.
In two of his last three fights – a draw and tight win over Gennady Golovkin – the judges had been kind to Alvarez and many hoped that Jacobs would push him hard enough to force the judges to disgrace their trade once again. It never happened that way and Jacobs accepted defeat quietly, talked of moving up in weight and generally looked a bit bewildered. Alvarez can do that to a man.
Alvarez was a boy fighter in lost parts of filthy Mexico at just 15. A world champion since 2011, he has a staggering deal with streaming company, DAZN, in his back pocket worth $365 million over five years and is arguably the best fighter in the world.
He is also free of emotion, a cold operator in the ring and a quite brilliant defensive boxer. Jacobs had hoped for a wild Alvarez, which is a fantasy; the fans had hoped for a brawl and that also looked like a fighting wish too far from about round two when Alvarez won four or five rounds in succession. It was subtle, Jacobs looked like he had been gently mugged and the fight in many ways was over.
Some might say Alvarez was brilliant, I think he was just efficient, doing no more or no less than what was demanded. His $35 million guarantee did, I imagine, put a smile on his face at some point.
Alvarez never wastes his punches, seldom makes mistakes and Jacobs struggled with that and never really found a way to make Alvarez fight any version of what Jacobs wanted; it was never wide, never a massacre but it was only ever going to end one way. Jacobs lost his IBF middleweight title, Alvarez added it to his WBA and WBC versions. A chance of a fight with WBO champion, Demetrius Andrade, is possible before a third and inevitable fight with Golovkin. The Kazakh, incidentally, dismissed the fight as a “sparring session”.
Jacobs will be in better fights at super-middleweight and Alvarez will continue to lead the boxing revolution in America where he is the highest paid fighter and the biggest star. The Mexican now has eight fights left in his staggering deal and there is every chance that the next eight will be as smart, controlled and sensible as Saturday’s fight against Jacobs. He’s probably the best, certainly the wealthiest, but just not the most explosive boxer in the world.
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