With Canelo vs Jacobs fast approaching, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest nights in the careers of 28-year-old Canelo Alvarez and 32-year-old Daniel Jacobs.
We’ll start with Canelo, the favorite on Saturday and the biggest star in boxing, DAZN’s $365 million man. I’m also going to cheat and go with six Canelo fights instead of five.
Austin Trout (April 20, 2013)
Result: Canelo UD-12 (115-112, 116-111, 118-109)
Trout has become something of a top-level gatekeeper at 154 in the years since, but in 2013 this was for a minute the fight to make. Trout was 26-0 and coming off of a huge win over Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden to take the WBA title; Cotto-Trout, in fact, had been meant to set up Cotto-Canelo, with Alvarez sitting ringside and perhaps ready to do an in-ring thing after it was over. Instead, Trout won. To Canelo’s credit, there was still talk of doing Canelo-Cotto as it was felt to be more marketable despite Cotto’s loss, but Alvarez insisted on fighting Trout instead.
Personally, I felt the 115-112 and 116-111 cards were a lot closer to reality than the 118-109. Much of this was competitive, but it was Alvarez’s defensive work and head movement that stood out most, keeping Trout from really connecting on anything big — not that Trout is or was a power puncher, but he couldn’t do much to catch the judges’ eyes. But there were still flaws. Sometimes, Canelo was stuck in a standstill mode, with Trout doing more work.
Floyd Mayweather (September 14, 2013)
Result: Mayweather MD-12 (114-114, 116-112, 117-111)
A fight famous for being a huge pay-per-view hit, and infamous for CJ Ross’ otherworldly bad score of 114-114 in a fight where Alvarez was outboxed and had zero argument for a draw. Even the 116-112 and 117-111 scores seemed too close for most of us. Ross’ card was bad enough — and in a high-profile enough fight that got a ton of negative attention lobbed her way — that she stepped down from her position just days later, and wound up quietly retiring instead of returning to ringside. Alvarez has several times credited the loss to Mayweather as a learning experience.
As for the fight, it was a domination by Mayweather in reality. Canelo tried to be patient and wait him out, daring Floyd to throw first, but after three or four rounds, Mayweather did his usual and put on the master class performance, once again just too good for a challenger to his throne. Alvarez had some moments of success, landing to the body and a bit to the head, but it was few and far between.
Erislandy Lara (July 12, 2014)
Result: Canelo SD-12 (113-115, 115-113, 117-111)
Another fight that Alvarez insisted on, despite his promoters not being particularly keen. Lara was seen by this time as the most serious threat to him at 154 pounds. The Cuban southpaw had just one loss, an extraordinarily bad decision in New Jersey in 2011 against Paul Williams, and his style and lack of fan base made him the type most name fighters like to avoid.
But Canelo fought him. The fight had a lot of swing rounds, in my view — some felt Lara won, some felt Canelo had edged it. For me, it was close in Lara’s favor. I scored it 115-113 for him, and so did Showtime’s Steve Farhood. But Alvarez was the star and got the edge on one card, and basically every swing round on the card of Levi Martinez. In the end, I felt it was close enough that the winner being Alvarez was not terribly controversial, and that Lara could be argued to have given the fight away by not being more proactive at certain times. Look, he won one card and could have won a second. Martinez wasn’t giving him anything, obviously.
Miguel Cotto (November 21, 2015)
Result: Canelo UD-12 (117-111, 118-110, 119-109)
Three cards that were probably too wide in Alvarez’s favor, but I had no issue with Canelo winning, scoring it 115-113 in his favor. Cotto was still a really good fighter at this point, and Alvarez showed some real improvements. It was a tactical battle throughout, and while at one time in his career Canelo seemed sometimes easily outboxed, here he made it tougher for the Puerto Rico to maneuver around and catch him flat-footed.
This was the fight where I thought Canelo Alvarez had really, truly matured for good. Cotto had success in the fight, but he wasn’t able to dent Alvarez, either, and Canelo’s power made some difference. When Cotto got too close, Alvarez made him pay, backing Miguel down repeatedly with power shots.
Gennady Golovkin (September 16, 2017)
Result: D-12 (113-115, 114-114, 118-110)
Adalaide Byrd was the judge who had this 118-110 for Alvarez, which was a score every bit as bad as Ross giving Canelo six rounds against Mayweather in 2013. Unlike Ross, though, Byrd didn’t have the dignity to step away from the sport.
I felt Alvarez started well in this fight, but that GGG took over in the middle rounds with his pressure, putting Canelo on the ropes quite a lot. Golovkin’s jab was effective and he was able to march through Alvarez’s best punches. I’m not saying Alvarez fought poorly, mind you. I just thought Golovkin fought better. Canelo’s work in the last three rounds should be commended, as he made a strong final stand.
Gennady Golovkin (September 15, 2018)
Result: Canelo MD-12 (114-114, 115-113, 115-113)
I thought Golovkin won the first fight, and I thought Golovkin won the rematch, too. One judge gave Alvarez the 12th round, which was incredibly debatable and tipped things to an Alvarez majority decision instead of a second draw. Again, Alvarez started nicely, but Golovkin turned it on as the fight went on and in my estimation was the better man. These were both really good, really competitive fights. Alvarez proved he’s a top-level fighter. I just don’t think he proved he’s better than Gennady Golovkin.
Daniel Jacobs, despite being older, has had less time on the big stages than Alvarez, but he’s had his share of big nights, too.
Dmitry Pirog (July 31, 2010)
Result: Pirog TKO-5
Jacobs, at 17-0, was a much-celebrated prospect at the time of this fight, an undercard bout on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II pay-per-view in Las Vegas. In fact, this fight is the last time Jacobs fought in Las Vegas, where he returns on Saturday. The Russian Pirog came in 16-0, and had never fought in the United States. It was a big fight for both young men.
The result of this fight is remembered, but the content of the fight maybe less so. It was a really good fight, with both hungry and unproven fighters showing their skills for four rounds, and I had it even on my card at that point, with the judges all having Jacobs ahead 39-37. Then in the fifth, Pirog landed an absolute monster of a right hand, viciously knocking Jacobs out.
Peter Quillin (December 5, 2015)
Result: Jacobs TKO-1
After his much-discussed battle with cancer, which at one point had Jacobs unable to walk, with his boxing career thought to be over, the Brooklyn-born fighter managed to heroically get himself back into the ring and his career back on track. That journey started in 2012, but really was solidified here.
Jacobs-Quillin was a highly-anticipated Showtime main event between two potentially marketable middleweights. It seemed about 50-50 on paper, but just 85 seconds into the fight, it was over. Jacobs’ speed and power had caught Quillin cold, and Jacobs battered him all over the ring until referee Harvey Dock — one of the best in the sport — called it off.
Gennady Golovkin (March 18, 2017)
Result: Golovkin UD-12 (113-114, 112-115, 112-115)
When Jacobs beat Quillin, he was asked if he would fight Golovkin. Jacobs at the time was WBA “world” titleholder, while Golovkin had the WBA “super world” belt, plus the IBF belt and the WBC title that Canelo Alvarez gave up to avoid having to fight GGG, which he eventually would do. Jacobs said he’d leave it up to his management, which made it seem unlikely, but then we got it in an HBO pay-per-view main event from Madison Square Garden.
In my view, Jacobs was a tougher fight for Golovkin than Canelo was. I scored both Canelo-GGG fights for GGG. They were competitive, but I scored them for GGG. This one was competitive and I scored it for Daniel Jacobs, who got up off the canvas in the fourth round and boxed terrifically down the stretch, giving GGG real fits for the first time as a pro. The aura of invincibility that Golovkin had carried into this fight was tarnished by Jacobs before Canelo would even get into a ring with Golovkin. And that’s part of what makes Saturday so interesting from a style perspective.
Maciej Sulecki (April 28, 2018)
Result: Jacobs UD-12 (115-112, 116-111, 117-110)
After a get-well win over Luis Arias in Nov. 2017, Jacobs returned against unbeaten Polish fighter Sulecki, at the time more of a junior middleweight, in another HBO event. Sulecki was interesting on paper, but Jacobs was the solid favorite.
Sulecki, though, proved he can fight. He was able to disrupt Jacobs’ timing pretty frequently, but Jacobs did make adjustments during the fight, and in the 12th round dropped Sulecki hard, which didn’t keep the underdog down, but did pretty much leave no doubt about the deserving winner. Sulecki has just been signed to face WBO titleholder Demetrius Andrade in June, so if both Jacobs and Sulecki win their upcoming fights, there is a chance that we could see this again. That doesn’t seem likely, but it’s out there.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko (October 27, 2018)
Result: Jacobs SD-12 (113-114, 115-112, 115-112)
When the IBF made the questionable decision to strip Gennady Golovkin of their title last year, the belt was vacant and put up for grabs between mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko and Jacobs. This fight didn’t pick up a lot of buzz — in part because it was an HBO main event long after HBO had checked out of their serious spot in the fight game — but those who follow closely knew going in that this was a legit, good machup.
In what turned out to be the last HBO fight worth a damn, Derevyanchenko got off the canvas in the first round and made a real go of it against an established top middleweight, proving as Sulecki did that he’s a contender at 160 for real.
After beating Derevyanchenko, Jacobs said, “We absolutely want Canelo.” Don’t let anyone lie to you and say this was always the plan — because it absolutely was not — but it’s what Jacobs got in the end, and it’s what we’ve got on Saturday.
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Canelo vs Jacobs starting at 7:30 pm ET on Saturday, streaming live on DAZN.