NEW YORK (AP) — The resumes are impressive. The mutual respect is beyond question. The determination is through the roof.
So why shouldn’t the middleweight title unification bout between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs be a classic, a fight-of-the-year candidate?
Ask both champions and they say that’s exactly what to expect on May 4 in Las Vegas. And while that might seem like hype for the fight, there is something of an aura around this matchup.
“He is a very strong mental fighter,” Alvarez said Thursday about Jacobs, who is nicknamed “Miracle Man” and overcame bone cancer to return to the ring. “His history shows his perseverance and that is a big strength for him. He has that will to win. I invite that in an opponent; that is the type of fighter I am.”
Mexico’s Alvarez, 28, is considered by many the best in the game today. His epic fights with Gennady Golovkin — a draw and then a tight victory, with a third meeting a distinct possibility — are the most shining moments in a 51-1-2 record with 35 knockouts. He became a three-division world champion by knocking out Rocky Fielding in three rounds to take the WBA super middleweight crown in December but now moves back where he probably belongs. And the middleweight division is the deepest and strongest around.
Jacobs, 32, is a logical foe, and that’s good for the sport considering how logic rarely plays into matchups. Since going 12 rounds with Triple G and losing a very close decision two years ago, Jacobs has three wins and owns the IBF crown. The thought of adding Alvarez’s WBA and WBC belts is enticing but hardly the only motivation for the Brooklyn native.
“I never get tired of inspiring people and telling my story,” he said. “Strangers, people I meet in airports when I travel, they are fascinated because it’s a feel-good story. I am blessed with a second chance at life and a career, and that is the message I want to get out to the world. That is something special, and I want to inspire so many more people.”
The bout will be on a special weekend for Mexico, on the eve of Cinco de Mayo, and Alvarez prizes the opportunity to do his thing in the ring “for my country, my family, my fans.” He knows, however, that taking on Jacobs will be anything but a party.
He likes that idea.
“Because of his experience and his talent and his confidence and all of his virtues, this has all the qualities of a fight of the year,” Alvarez noted, adding he’s watched film of many of Jacobs’ fights to get a feel for the taller (by 3 inches) American.
He also has watched lots of his own bouts.
“Every fight, I feel I learn something from it. In all of my fights, I focus on learning, and especially learning from the mistakes,” he added. “Every fight, I watch to see the good things and to focus on whatever errors I have made to make sure they don’t happen again.”
Those gaffes are so rare that Alvarez hasn’t lost since Floyd Mayweather outpointed him in 2014, a fight Alvarez accepted when he was still quite raw, though he already owned two super welterweight titles. He has improved since, and only Golovkin truly has challenged Alvarez in the last 4½ years.
Jacobs will present a major challenge in the fight that will be streamed by DAZN as part of Alvarez’s $365 million deal for 11 fights.
“I understand the game now and what you need to be great,” Jacobs said. “This is my shot and I am on a mission. Canelo always shows up and gives his best, so do I. He’s used to the big spotlight, and for me this is everything. I plan to take over the show and be the headliner.”