In a feat not accomplished since Floyd Mayweather in 2013, Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) steps into the ring on Saturday night against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) looking to secure a historic win.
With the WBC, WBA (Super) and IBF middleweight world championship belts on the line, the T-Mobile Arena hosts the standout fight of the year so far, with a sellout crowd expected on this Cinco de Mayo weekend.
“The Miracle Man” is a 5/2 (+250) underdog coming into this fight, however, deploying certain tactics will give Jacobs the biggest chance of causing a seismic shake-up of the 160-pound division.
Speed of footwork, controlling the distance
If Jacobs can deploy quick footwork in and out of the pocket, the IBF champion will gain successes in the inside which could frustrate Canelo. Alvarez is likely to target the body early, looking to reap the rewards in the later rounds against a fading Jacobs, however, if Jacobs can follow the instructions of his corner in a controlled opening to the fight, he may well force Alvarez into making mistakes.
Golovkin set the blueprint in showing how to pressure Canelo with a controlling jab. A stiff jab from the bigger man could see Canelo retreating to the ropes similar to the first fight against GGG; picking the right shots at the right times then becomes paramount for Jacobs.
Jacobs is a good boxer-mover, showing he can carry power throughout the fight. This fight is likely to replicate a chess match early on, with Canelo underestimating the technical ability of Jacobs to his detriment.
If Alvarez becomes frustrated early on in the fight, an all-out-war approach may be deployed by the 28-year-old, head-hunting Jacobs in an attempt to test that questionable chin. It’s crucial for “DJ” not to engage, sticking to a detailed gameplan of precise, timed attacks.
“Box and move” has become a cliché tactic in the biggest fights, but Jacobs has to rely on his head movement and subsequent footwork around the ring to avoid being pinned down by one of Canelo’s onslaughts. GGG tried to walk through the attacks of the Mexican, and despite showing off his whiskers, scoring points would have been noted by the judges.
Canelo is likely to try and negate Jacob’s height advantage by mixing up attacks to the head and body. If these are anticipated well, Jacobs can get success in counter-attacks, using his footwork and head movement to move away from the pressured attacks, much like he did in his controversial loss to Golovkin.
It’s no secret how hard it will be for Jacobs to land a decision in Las Vegas. Simply edging rounds may not be enough to convince the judges that he is engaging in the cleaner, most effective work, so periods of aggression from the underdog may prove crucial.
These came later in the rounds for Golovkin against Canelo, which enabled the Kazakh to steal many debated segments. Fading in the final minutes of rounds my allow Jacobs to turn up the heat approaching the bell, with flurries of attacks proving notable enough to get the nod. It will likely prove to be a case of fine lines once again if this fight goes to the judges; hopefully, they can arrive on a fair representation of the fight.