By Damien Burton @Mr_Yib
(All artwork in this piece was created by Damien Burton)
Lo, the Canelo train chugs inexorably onward, continuing to build steam as seen in a recent turn of events which saw the already-questionable WBA amend their own rules in order that the Mexican formally known as Saul Alvarez be recognised as both their super middleweight (regular) and middleweight (super) champion.
Confusing, no? Not that the “regular” trinket is considered a legitimate world title, at least not by anyone with an ounce of common sense or respect for the concept. Sadly it seems the motivation behind the WBA’s decision is the same one that’s been behind so many lamentable moments in boxing: it’s money, isn’t it?
By recognising Canelo as their champion not once but twice the Panama-based, green-eyed monster can, as per their own rules, claim double the sanctioning fees from arguably boxing’s most profitable star, to a maximum of $250k per belt.
With Canelo having recently signed a record five-year, eleven-fight deal with streaming service DAZN that reportedly guarantees the Mexican at least $365 million; who wouldn’t want to dip their fingers into that pocket?
But this isn’t about Canelo, at least not exclusively. This is about the upcoming middleweight unification bout between Canelo and Brooklynite Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs, scheduled to hit Las Vegas on May 4th, with Canelo’s WBA (super) and WBC middleweight titles, his WBA (regular) super middleweight title, and Jacobs’ IBF middleweight title all on the line. Quite the mouthful, really.
Jacobs enters this fight as the consensus (at the time of writing) underdog with the bookies, his stock seemingly having plateaued after his impressive performance in a close, arguably contentious, unanimous decision loss to former middleweight kingpin, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
In that fight Jacobs went toe-to-toe with the Kazakh and despite suffering a fourth-round knockdown managed to break Golovkin’s 23-fight KO streak, becoming the first to make “Triple G” work for the full thirty-six minutes.
Jacobs now brings with him a three-fight winning streak following that loss but those three opponents have each taken Jacobs the twelve-round distance in what were convincing, albeit uninspiring, wins. It’s not that Luis Arias, Maciej Sulęcki and Serhiy Derevianchenko aren’t capable, skilled fighters: far from it, with each being undefeated prior to his sharing a ring with Jacobs, and a combined amateur tally of 640-75 which includes a respectable smattering of honours.
It’s just that right now Canelo seems to be riding the crest of a wave and hitting his prime in terms of both physicality and skillset.
For all it’s easy to over-scrutinise Canelo’s career and hold him to a perhaps unfairly higher standard than his peers – the questionable scores in several of his fights; the perceived leniency over his high-profile failed VADA test; the astute timing of his progression through the weights – he is undoubtedly a very skilled operator.
No longer the inexperienced 23-year-old who in 2013 lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr in a one-sided schooling, and having sated the doubters who felt he couldn’t hang with a “real” one-sixty-pounder, Canelo is perhaps reaping the benefits of no longer having to make such a drastic weight cut.
Indeed; both Canelo and Jacobs have been known to rehydrate significantly; Jacobs declined the IBF same-day rehydration clause when he fought Golovkin, and Alvarez has long been rumoured to rehydrate in the region of 15-20lbs.
For this fight a same-day 10lb rehydration limit has been agreed-upon. Presumably this would benefit Alvarez more as the naturally smaller of the two, but as Jacobs had the same restriction in place when he won the IBF title it seems the limit this time is little more than a formality to ensure he doesn’t lose that title on the scales.
Can Jacobs crash the party and derail the Canelo express?
Expect Canelo to prove a more elusive target than Derevyanchenko; I think the result depends on the extent to which Jacobs can impose himself on an opponent who’s happy to lay in wait before picking his moments. He has a good couple of inches’ advantage in both height and reach over Alvarez but he’s up against a guy who knows his own strengths and will fight smart in doing just what is required for the win.
With Vegas being like a second home to Alvarez, the fight coinciding with Cinco de Mayo celebrations to maximise interest from Mexican-American fight fans, and the WBC announcing yet ANOTHER “special” belt for the occasion it can’t help but feel like a foregone conclusion: this IS undoubtedly Canelo’s party.
I don’t think he stops Jacobs but I think he does enough to take it on points, with or without a little generosity on the cards.