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Who Will Win the Canelo-Jacobs Fight? 15 TSS Writers Give Their Picks

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Canelo vs Jacobs

Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and middleweight title-holder Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs collide on Saturday, May 4, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. As is our custom whenever there is a mega-fight, we reached out to our community of writers to get their predictions. Our reach extended to our colleagues at our Spanish-language sister sites.

Predictably, there was a strong lean to Alvarez, the betting favorite, but Jacobs had his supporters and they made some provocative points.

Comic book cover artist ROB AYALA, whose specialty is combat sports, provided the graphic. Check out more of Rob Ayala’s illustrations at his web site fight posium.

The correspondents are listed alphabetically.

Gilda Aburto

A majority of people in the boxing business think Canelo will win, but Jacobs won’t be a piece of candy. Jacobs has a good defense, throws powerful combinations, he can fight in and out, and has proved he can go the distance. In order to win, Jacobs will have to pressure Canelo from the opening bell. Some say he doesn’t have a chance if the fight goes to the scorecards with the fight being held in Las Vegas, but JACOBS has everything that it takes to get a sound victory on Saturday.

J.J. Alvarez

Jacobs is taller, faster, stronger and has superior movement inside the ring. But his skills may be receding. In his last fight against Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the man who defeated cancer lacked potency behind his strikes and the ability to maintain the volume of his punches. The Mexican is strong and resilient, possessing a left hook which is his most lethal weapon. This will be the biggest concern for Jacobs defensively from start to finish. And due to his superior stature, his torso will be easily targeted by his opponent’s most devastating weapon. CANELO by decision.

Matt Andrzejewski

The signs all point to a JACOBS  upset. He possesses the type of movement that can give all sorts of issues to Canelo. In addition, I think Jacobs will land his counter right with consistency when Canelo attempts to throw to the body. It’s a bad style matchup for Canelo. Jacobs by clear cut unanimous decision.

Rick Assad

Because of his height and reach advantage and his punching power, Jacobs, the Brooklyn, New York native, could cause Alvarez problems throughout. But CANELO will work the body and counterpunch effectively and should prevail in the late rounds, say the 10th or 11th.

Bernard Fernandez

If professional boxing were like Olympic boxing, Daniel Jacobs would be, barring the standard and reprehensible corruption often seen at those quadrennial world events, a good bet to come away with no better than a bronze medal. But unless Gennady Golovkin has aged faster than most people think, and Canelo Alvarez’s skill set is not as outsized as his popularity, Jacobs will continue to be slotted in as the No. 3 guy at 160 pounds. It’s competitive, but call it CANELO by unanimous decision.

Jeffrey Freeman

JACOBS SD 12:  By now, most knowledgeable observers can see how good Canelo is and what it will take to beat him. Danny Jacobs has the right stuff—superior size, an edge in punching power, and arguably better boxing skills. If Jacobs can finally put it all together and stay off the canvas for twelve rounds against the best counterpuncher in boxing, he will be rewarded with a split decision victory, all the title belts, and an even bigger bucks rematch with the biggest money fighter in the game. Sure, Canelo (and Oscar) will insist he won and jaded fans will give him no sympathy regardless, but it will be Alvarez laughing all the way to the bank as he and Jacobs lay the groundwork for a middleweight championship trilogy on DAZN.

Miguel Iturrate

I think Daniel Jacobs has a chance. He is a skilled boxer and if he has a good horse under him and can keep moving he could convince the judges he did more. It would be interesting to see a version of Jacobs like we did against Peter Quillin, where he came out ruthless and mean. We will see, it is Vegas, and it is Cinco de Mayo, which is “Canelo” day basically. But JACOBS is longer, taller and has a high boxing IQ. Canelo shouldn’t be too comfortable leaving it to the judges.

Lazaro Malvarez

We are in the presence of an enticing fight, but not necessarily a good one. Jacobs, with a large purse secured for retirement, may not be very aggressive, giving Canelo opportunities to gain confidence and land significant strikes which will be responded to by roaring support from the crowd. The red headed boxer from Guadalajara is currently at the peak of his career. He’s the king of the party and business must go on. Only a miracle could have the “Miracle Man” leaving victorious on May 4th. CANELO by decision.

Kelsey McCarson

Despite his tremendous accomplishments, Alvarez is still just 28 years old. The scariest thing about that is that he always seems to be improving as a prizefighter, at least since he lost to Floyd Mayweather by decision in 2013. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday, so I’m picking CANELO by decision. Jacobs is a very good middleweight. He has a tremendous back story and will use his excellent skills to give Alvarez a tough test. But Alvarez is one of the best counterpunchers in boxing, and once he starts letting his hands go, Jacobs will have little to rely on but his jab. Alvarez will land the cleaner, harder punches and the judges will have a pretty easy fight to score.

Matt McGrain

I’d like to see Jacobs hold the line a little bit more than he did against Golovkin.  Alvarez is a dangerous puncher. He’s nothing like as thudding as GGG but the Mexican is probably every bit as good at finding his man when he moves.  If Jacobs turns consistently to squabbling on the backfoot he’ll get out-picked by consistent hitting.  If he can hold the line I make this a 50.50 fight.  However, I expect CANELO to start moving Jacobs later in the fight with the cards in the balance. The American will drop a narrow but just decision.

Sean Nam

Daniel Jacobs may have all the physical attributes to beat Saul Alvarez. He is bigger and just as quick, if not quicker. He also knows how to switch stances intelligently and carries above-average punching power. But his last two fights, close decisions over Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Maciej Sulecki, revealed just where Jacobs is: a very good middleweight, but not great. Against, Alvarez, he will need to be busy every round. That the fight is taking place in Alvarez’s adopted hometown of Las Vegas pretty much ensures that Jacobs will need a knockout to win — but that is far more unlikely than the fight going to the cards. CANELO by split decision.

Ted Sares

Jacobs will come in looking much bigger than CANELO as he rehydrates like David Lemieux, but that won’t save him from Canelo’s pressure and especially Canelo’s body work. I look for a late stoppage in the redhead’s favor. Danny’s corner may have to save him from himself.

Phil Woolever

Jacobs seems prepared to perform much better than predicted by the majority of oddsmakers who currently list him at around a 3 or 4 to 1 underdog, but much of that depends on how Alvarez, who looks like he’s getting even better, shows up on fight night. As the saying goes regarding motivational money, CANELO has millions of reasons to be at his best for this contest and I think he’ll respond looking stronger than ever.

The Last Words

For our final thoughts we turn to TSS West Coast Bureau Chief David Avila and to Dino da Vinci, a man who needs no introduction.

AVILA: Unless someone scores a knockdown I see it as a very even fight. I am picking a draw.

da VINCI: Canelo begins his ascent to claim Floyd’s P-4-P King status.

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Jeison Rosario’s Upset Crowns This Week’s Edition of HITS and MISSES

Kelsey McCarson

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Jeison Rosario’s Upset Crowns This Week’s Edition of HITS and MISSES

There’s was plenty of quality boxing action available for consumption this weekend in the U.S., particularly on Saturday evening because of the competing cards put forth by the PBC on FOX and Top Rank on ESPN crews that have become chief rivals over the last year.

But what were the biggest HITS and MISSES seen during all the action? That’s what you’re here to find out.

HIT – Jeison Rosario’s Stunning Upset for two 154-pound Titles

Nobody expected Rosario to dethrone unified junior middleweight champion Julian Williams on Saturday night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, but the massive underdog overcame the situation anyway to vault himself to the top of the junior middleweight division. The thing that saved Rosario was his stunning power. He appeared to be out-boxed by Williams early in the fight, but that changed just as soon as it became apparent Williams was slinging only his fists while Rosario was working with sledgehammers. Now the division has become more crowded than ever at the top with all roads amazingly leading to Rosario, the little known 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic who now owns the WBA and IBF titles.

MISS – Chris Colbert’s Fail to Impress

Junior lightweight prospect Chris Colbert was given a great chance by the PBC to impress fight fans on national television on the undercard of Williams-Rosario, but the talented 23-year-old didn’t make the most of the opportunity. Sure, Colbert was taking a step up in competition by taking on former world titleholder Jezreel Corrales for a vacant interim belt, but Colbert mostly came across as a talented fighter who just doesn’t seem quite capable of putting it all together yet. Colbert won the fight, but it wasn’t interesting or noteworthy in any way. Judging by how the PBC has worked in the past, he’ll get plenty more chances to shine, but I’m not sure anyone but the people who stand to gain monetarily from the fighter’s success will be looking forward to it.

HIT –  Eleider Alvarez’s Epic KO of Michael Seals

Former light heavyweight titleholder Alvarez scored the early leader for knockout of the year against Seals in the main event at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The fight was fairly lackluster until the explosive ending in the seventh round. It was an important victory for Alvarez, who was coming off losing his title to Sergey Kovalev via decision last February. Alvarez is 35, so it was imperative for him to get back to action and remind people he’s still a viable contender in the 175-pound ranks. And there’s no better way to do that in boxing than by thunderous knockout.

MISS – Felix Verdejo’s Fresh Start Starts Stale

Verdejo is still only 26 years old, but after defeating Manuel Rojas in a lightweight bout at Turning Stone, the once highly regarded prospect doesn’t appear to be any closer today than he was yesterday to living up to the tremendous promise he once possessed. To be completely fair to Verdejo, it was only his first fight under new trainer Ismael Salas and the fighter still has time on his side. Still, there appears to be plenty of work to do if Verdejo is ever to become a world champion. In fact, he didn’t look all that materially different from the fighter who was knocked out in 2018.

HIT – Floyd Mayweather Wins Prestigious BWAA Award 

I honestly had some concern that Mayweather wouldn’t win the BWAA’s Fighter of the Decade award before it was announced on Friday via press release. After all, Mayweather lost the previous decade’s top honor to Manny Pacquiao in 2010, and Sports Illustrated had just named Andre Ward its Fighter of the Decade winner the week prior. It’s only one person’s opinion, of course, but I think there would have been something wrong with Mayweather not picking up the honor at least once in the last two decades. After all, he’s quite easily the generation’s best overall fighter and he’s transcended the sport to mainstream celebrity status, too. Congrats to Mayweather for winning the well-deserved honor.

Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp / TGB Promotions

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South African Trailblazer Peter Mathebula Dead at Age 67

Arne K. Lang

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Peter Mathebula wasn’t a great fighter. He suffered nine losses during his 45-bout career. He was stopped five times. But Mathebula, who died yesterday (Jan. 18) at age 67, was a historically important fighter. He was the first black South African to win a world title. He was the first South African boxer of any color to win a world title on foreign soil. His predecessors, bantamweights Vic Toweel and Arnold Taylor, won their titles in Johannesburg. Mathebula won his in Los Angeles.

Mathebula took the WBA flyweight title on a split decision from Korea’s Tae-Shik Kim on Dec. 12, 1980 at LA’s Olympic Auditorium. The fight was originally headed to Seoul but Mathebula was denied a visa.

In those days, South Korea barred tourists from South Africa as a protest against that country’s policy of apartheid. Mathebula was a victim of apartheid, but that made no difference as the ban was a blanket ban, covering all South Africans, regardless of color.

Olympic Auditorium matchmaker Don Fraser acquired the orphanded fight. Southern California had a large Korean population and Fraser thought the fight would go over big with this demographic.

The fabled Olympic Auditorium was noted for raucous SRO crowds. But not on this particular night. The crowd was overwhelmingly Korean-American, but there weren’t more than 3,000 in attendance. Kim vs. Mathebula didn’t resonate with the Olympic Auditorium regulars.

The fight was very close but most thought the decision was fair. The Korean started fast, wrote LA Times ringside reporter Mark Heisler, but Mathebula fought his way back into the fight in the middle rounds and won the 14th and 15th stanzas on his card, sufficient he thought to secure the win.

The victory made Mathebula a big star in South Africa. His purse for the fight with Tae-Shik Kim was only $7,500 (approximately $23,500 in today’s dollars) but he made up for it in endorsements. He appeared in ads for automobiles, Old Buck Gin, Bostonian shoes and a line of splashy clothes according to Joseph Lelyveld, the New York Times man on the scene.

Mathebula’s celebrityhood crossed racial lines. Newspapers that took little cognizance of goings-on in the black community showered Mathebula with a copious amount of ink. When he defended his title against Argentina’s Santos Laciar, it was front page news in white and black newspapers.

Mathebula opposed Laciar a mere 13 weeks after winning his title in Los Angeles. The match was held in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium, a facility built to house the Pirates, Soweto’s all-black soccer team. Three years earlier, South Africa had legalized interracial sporting events but few whites dared venture into Soweto which was ground zero for anti-apartheid demonstrations.

Despite the great esteem in which Mathebula was held, the fight wasn’t a sellout. A local black nationalist organization launched a campaign to boycott the fight on the grounds that the government, which paid to set up Mathebula in a fancy hotel and paid for his motorcades, was using international mixed-race sporting events as a propaganda tool, an early illustration of what has come to be called “sportswashing.”

Peter Mathebula couldn’t catch a break and that may have impacted his performance against the Argentine. It was woeful. Laciar knocked him down in the fifth and then bull-rushed him out of the ring (the ref called it a push) and the bout was stopped in the eighth with Mathebula complaining that his vision was compromised.

Before the year was out, Mathebula lost twice more. Fighting on hostile turf in Venezuela, he was stopped twice by Betulio Gonzalez, first in the 10th and then in the sixth. A three-time world title-holder, Gonzalez had a great career but he was approaching his 32nd birthday, old for a flyweight, and his best days were behind him.

In the span of less than 10 full months, Peter Mathebula went from the penthouse to the proverbial outhouse, but with the passage of time his people remembered his historic achievement in Los Angeles and pretty much forgot the slew of disappointments that quickly followed. The word “legend” suffuses reports of his death in South African papers.

Mathebula reportedly had multiple health issues and spent the last three weeks of his life in Leratong Hospital in the province of Gauteng, not far from the all-black township where he was born. May he rest in rest in peace.

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Ringside in Verona: Alvarez Capsizes Seals Plus Undercard Results

Matt Andrzejewski

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VERONA, NY — The main event of an ESPN televised card at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY between light heavyweight contenders Eleider Alvarez (25-1, 13 KO’s) and Michael Seals (24-3, 18 KO’s) started with a whimper but ended with a bang. After six-plus rounds of lackadaisical action, Alvarez scored a stunning sensational one punch knockout just before the end of the seventh round of their scheduled ten round fight.

The first three rounds saw more clinches than punches landed. Seals seemed to be looking to land one perfect punch and in doing so barely unleashed any punches. Alvarez, for his part, was not very active in these rounds but certainly moved his hands more and landed more than Seals.

In round four, Seals came out much more aggressive and had his best round of the fight. But in the fifth, Seals went back to looking for that one punch and Alvarez took back control of the action. Toward the end of the round, Alvarez staggered Seals with a right hand.

Alvarez continued to be in control of the fight in rounds six and seven by simply moving his hands more. And then towards the end of round seven, Alvarez connected with a picture perfect overhand right that sent Seals crashing to the canvas. Referee Danny Schiavone did not reach a full 10-count before waiving the fight off.

For Alvarez, this was a big bounce-back win after his loss to Sergey Kovalev in their light heavyweight title rematch last February. With the light heavyweight division flush with talent, it seems Alvarez is in prime position to get a big opportunity his next time out.

In the co-feature, lightweight contender Felix Verdejo (26-1, 16 KO’s) put on a workmanlike effort in winning a wide ten round unanimous decision against Manuel Rey Rojas (18-4, 5 KO’s). While Verdejo was in complete control of the contest from the opening bell, the performance certainly lacked sizzle and may raise even more questions on the potential of the once can’t-miss prospect.

Verdejo utilized a very patient approach throughout the night working behind the left jab. While the jab was effective, Verdejo only occasionally looked to unleash power punches behind that jab. Reyes, for his part, played mostly defense keeping a very tight guard and looking to selectively counter Verdejo’s jab.

Verdejo’s defense, which had been criticized in the past, looked better but still showed some leaks. In the fifth round, Reyes landed a sharp right hand flush on the jaw of Verdejo that seemed to momentarily get Verdejo’s attention. And in the ninth, Reyes landed a hard right that snapped Verdejo’s head back. If Reyes could punch harder, either of those two rights may have altered the course of the fight.

But aside from those brief moments from Reyes, Verdejo dictated all the action. He easily out-worked and out-landed the mostly defensive minded Reyes. In the end it is a win for Verdejo and he can proceed forward towards what he hopes will be an eventual title shot in the lightweight division.

In a bizarre heavyweight fight between two former 2004 Olympians, Devin Vargas (22-6, 9 KO’s) was awarded a disqualification victory in the eighth and final round against Victor Bisbal (23-5, 17 KO’s). Bisbal scored a knockdown in round two with a left hook but was deducted two points in round four for various infractions.  Aside from the knockdown round, Vargas seemed to out-hustle and out-land Bisbal. Ahead on all three scorecards (67-63 twice and 66 -64) entering the final round, Vargas absorbed a low blow from Bisbal. At this point, referee Michael Ortega decided to disqualify Bisbal.

Abraham Nova (18-0, 14 KO’s) scored a one-sided fourth-round TKO of tough veteran Pedro Navarette (30-25-3, 19 KO’s) in a lightweight contest that was scheduled for eight rounds. Nova scored knockdowns in rounds two, three and four before the fight was waived off.

Knockout out artist Jonathan Guzman (24-1, 23 KO’s) rose from the canvas to score a fourth-round knockout of Rodolfo Hernandez (30-10-1, 28 KO’s) in a 122-pound slugfest. The heavily favored Guzman scored two knockdowns with body shots in the opening stanza and appeared on his way to an easy win. But Hernandez flipped the script in round three with a hard right hand just before the bell sounded that put Guzman on the canvas and nearly out. The two went toe to toe in the fourth when a vicious left hook to the body from Guzman put Hernandez down and this time out for good.

In a battle of former world title challengers, Freddie Roach trained Christopher Diaz (25-2, 16 KO’s) scored a wide eight round unanimous against Adeilson Dos Santos (19-8, 15 KO’s) in a featherweight contest. Diaz dominated the fight from the opening bell and hurt Dos Santos on a few occasions but ultimately had to settle for the decision victory.

The opening fight of the night saw heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson (3-0, 3 KO’s) easily dispatch Andrew Satterfield (5-4, 3 KO’s) in the first round of their scheduled four round fight. Anderson scored two knockdowns in what was a dominant performance.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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