On Saturday night in Sin City, two of the best middleweight boxers in the world will square off to determine who reigns supreme in the 160-pound division (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET).
Three belts will be on the line when Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs meet at the T-Mobile Arena, but much more will be at stake.
Jacobs is a sizable underdog in the bout, but the “Miracle Man” has been doubted before.
If there’s one thing that should give Jacobs hope, it’s that even though Alvarez has faced fighters as big, quick and as powerful as him in the past, he has never faced all those same attributes at one time. He certainly hasn’t against as talented a boxer-puncher with the ability to switch stances.
While Genndy Golovkin proved successful in using his jab as a weapon to outwork Alvarez in a pair of fights most experts thought GGG had won, he wasn’t quick enough to plant his feet and consistently land combinations (or do much at all with his powerful right hand).
Jacobs, on the other hand, very much is. But whether or not he has the same punch resistance and willingness to stay in the pocket and risk heavy counter shots remains to be seen.
Although Jacobs was knocked down by Golovkin, he did get up and was never in trouble again.
He also enters with the mental toughness of beating cancer after nearly losing his life. But should the fight go the distance, as most experts expect, he will need to do something — and do it demonstratively — in order to leave no doubt on the scorecards.
Jacobs talked during fight week about getting off first and suffocating Alvarez with volume.
He also mentioned that in a perfect world, if he were able to attempt at least 100 punches per round, he would feel confident he could outpoint Alvarez.
The only problem with that is Jacobs averages just shy of 50, according to CompuBox.
Inevitably, Jacobs is going to have to visibly hurt Alvarez and discipline him with power shots in order to dictate the pace of the fight. But to do that, he will need to control distance at the same time to keep Alvarez at the end of his punches.
It’s a plan that Alvarez just doesn’t make easy, even against elite fighters such as Jacobs, because of how good he is at slipping punches by moving the upper half of his torso and countering with well-timed right hands.
Even better, once he is able to close the distance, Alvarez is such a brutal body puncher that he often dissuades opponents from getting too confident.
This is where Jacobs’ ability to switch stances on the fly and give Alvarez a constant variation of looks could be his biggest key for lowering Alvarez’s output and not allowing him to confidently set his feet and plant for heavy counter shots.
It would certainly take a tight-rope effort from Jacobs and the best performance of his career in order to do so, but it’s far from impossible.