Current IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs steps into the ring on May 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to face WBC and WBA middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez in a highly anticipated unification bout.
If Jacobs can employ these five simple tactics properly, he could earn the biggest win of his career.
If anyone can utilize their physical advantage in this fight, it’s Jacobs. The almost six foot tall Jacobs will have nearly a four-inch height advantage and three-inch reach advantage over Alvarez. He’s the bigger man in every way and the natural middleweight. If Alvarez and his fans are going to point to the inferior Rocky Fielding and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr as examples of Alvarez having success against opponents the same height as Jacobs, then they’re grossly underestimating Jacobs. If Jacobs works behind his long jab and manages and dictates the distance, it’s going to create problems for Alvarez who might find himself unable to land clean shots against Jacobs. It will also force Alvarez to take risks to get close, ultimately providing an opportunity for Jacobs when Alvarez leaves himself exposed. It will take a commitment from Jacobs to be on his toes to keep control of that distance except for when he sits down on his punches.
Controlling the distance is all based around footwork. It is one of the most underrated and underappreciated aspects of a fighter’s skillset by boxing fans and pundits, however, it can make the difference in the fight. Footwork ultimately is what’s going to allow Jacobs to control the distance and manage Alvarez’s ability to effectively get inside. The only fighter that has defeated Alvarez to date is Floyd Mayweather Jr. He was able to land punches and then exit by subtly taking a step back to stay out of range of an Alvarez reaching counter punch. The only time Mayweather Jr was hit was when he chose to stay close. This strategy frustrated Alvarez and allowed Mayweather Jr the ability to win rounds. Alvarez is going to look to land early and big to the body. He’s going to invest in this early bodywork in the hopes it will slow Jacobs down and cause him to be more of a stationary target as the fight progresses. Movement is going to be Jacob’s key to success in this fight. Footwork could be the story of the night.
One of the key elements Mayweather Jr was able to employ during his fight with Alvarez was effective head movement. Alvarez’s inability to land punches was evident and the more frustrated Alvarez became, the more desperate he became and the more risks he took. The final Compubox statistics had Alvarez landing at a dismal 22% in total punches with a dominant Mayweather Jr landing 46% of his total punches including 56% of his power punches. Mayweather Jr’s head movement had Alvarez missing all night. Jacobs is going to need to make sure that his head is moving at all times, especially after he throws a punch or combination. Alvarez is going to be looking to counter everything that Jacobs throws. Alvarez likes to jab when his opponent jabs. Jacobs head movement will mitigate Alvarez from landing.
JAB, BODY, HEAD, REPEAT
Jacobs doesn’t need to reinvent the blueprint to beat Alvarez. In fact, if he has watched enough tape of Alvarez, which I know he has, then he knows how Alvarez will react to certain scenarios. If Jacobs commits to coming forward working behind his jab, he will be able to hit the body, then the head, get out of Alvarez’s range, pivot and do it again. It takes a commitment to the discipline of being focused every second of every round to avoid making mistakes. Gennady Golovkin was doing well in the first fight against Alvarez. Golovkin was in a seek and destroy mode but failed to move his head. The only reason Alvarez was able to land was because of Golovkin being stationary. If Jacobs uses the jab, works the body and then the head, utilizing his footwork and controlling the distance, he can truly make this an easy night for himself.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 25 years of working in boxing, it’s that the most underrated aspect of a fighter’s arsenal is his ability to keep his foot on the gas pedal for all 12 rounds of a world title fight. Pressure can be the difference in winning and losing a fight. If Jacobs can apply pressure from the opening bell and outwork Alvarez, he is going to set himself up for success. The ability to keep pumping the jab and preventing Alvarez from letting his hands go will be key for Jacobs. Whichever style Jacobs wants to utilize whether being the aggressor or counter puncher, he is going to have to be in the best physical condition of his life. Golovkin’s slower pace in the rematch with Alvarez in addition to Alvarez coming forward, made the difference in a close fight that resulted in an Alvarez victory. The bottom line is that Jacobs will need to be moving and throwing punches for every second of every round during this fight. If he does so, he will provide himself a great opportunity to use his power further helping his cause toward a victory.
Fight week is upon us and all of the work has already been put in. Now it’s up to Jacobs to utilize his preparation and execute his gameplan. The five tactics above can spell victory for Jacobs if he is able to execute them.
Source: Peter Kahn