Big contract in hand, Canelo Alvarez looks for a big win
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Canelo Alvarez owns both big Mexican holiday weekends in this gambling town, along with a contract that could make him one of the richest athletes in the world.
He'll own everything at 160 pounds, too, if he can get past Daniel Jacobs in an intriguing middleweight title unification fight Saturday night.
Just another big fight for Alvarez, who doesn't like to back away from a good challenge.
"Every single one of my fights is important," Alvarez said this week. "Every single fight marks history for me. He (Jacobs) is the second best middleweight in the world, so it's another step in that direction, to keep writing my history."
What would ordinarily be a big pay-per-view fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend on the Las Vegas Strip will be an experiment in the possible new future of boxing as Alvarez meets Jacobs in a fight that will be streamed on DAZN. Fans who would ordinarily pay $70 or $80 for the bout can get it by signing up for either a monthly or annual plan on the new pay service.
The delivery may be a work in progress, but Alvarez isn't.
He's been beaten only once, by Floyd Mayweather Jr. who Alvarez took on at the age of 23 and clearly wasn't ready. After dominating everyone else at 147 pounds, Alvarez moved up to middleweight, where he went the distance with the fearsome Gennady Golovkin and emerged with a draw and a narrow decision win.
Just for good measure, Alvarez fought at 168 pounds his last time out, when he stopped an outclassed Rocky Fielding to win a piece of the super middleweight title, too.
"My focus is fighting the best fights," Alvarez said.
The scheduled 12-rounder with Jacobs figures to qualify, with Alvarez trying to add the piece of middleweight title Jacobs holds to his three other titles. Other than a third fight with Triple G it's the best middleweight fight out there, with Jacobs bringing plenty of credentials of his own into the ring.
Among them is a narrow loss to Golovkin in 2017 in a fight that could have easily gone the other way.
"I'm a big force," Jacobs said. "I'm a big guy with skills, speed and ring IQ."
Oddsmakers don't think that will be enough to take the titles from Alvarez, who is a 4-1 favorite in this city's legal sports books. But Jacobs has already beaten the odds by beating cancer in 2011, and understands that at the age of 32 this will almost surely be his best chance at cashing in at the top.
"This is the greatest opportunity I could ever have, much less dream about," Jacobs said. "So I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it."
To do that, the Brooklyn, New York, native must solve the puzzle that is Alvarez, the red-headed Mexican who is wildly popular in his home country. And that's not an easy task, considering Alvarez is the only fighter to beat Golovkin and at the age of 28 has already won 51 times as a pro.
A classic boxer-puncher, Alvarez showed he's a thinker, too, when he switched to a more aggressive style to beat Golovkin in their second fight in September. Alvarez has beaten 14 world champions in his career, though he says there are things he sees in Jacobs that are unique to his fellow champion.
"He's got one of the most complicated, most complete styles in boxing," Alvarez said.
It will be another big payday for Alvarez, who last year signed a groundbreaking deal with DAZN that promoters claim could bring him $365 million in 11 fights over five years. Alvarez has taken over the prime May and September Mexican holiday weekends in Las Vegas that were once the exclusive domain of Mayweather and he has been a consistent pay-per-view draw.
"I'm not really focused on the contract," Alvarez said. "I put in the hard work and I'm happy about it, of course. But my focus is fighting the best fights."
The fight with Jacobs is one of those, as Alvarez looks to move past a positive test for clenbuterol last year that he blamed on eating tainted meat in Mexico. It's also a big fight for DAZN, which is relying on big names like Alvarez, Golovkin and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua to sell enough subscriptions to be viable.
A third mega fight with Golovkin could be in line in September should Alvarez win. But Jacobs has plans, too, and he's confident he will rise to the occasion in the biggest fight of his career.
"It's not my first rodeo," Jacobs said. "I don't look forward to being nervous. If anything I'm excited."