By David Robinett
On Monday night at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, California, IBF middleweight champion Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, holder of the WBA and WBC middleweight belts, concluded their three-city press tour ahead of their May 4, 2019, showdown in Las Vegas before hundreds of vocal fans and assembled media.
While everyone involved promised a crowd-pleasing, high-intensity battle for the lineal, unified middleweight championship, the two fighters emphasized their mutual respect for one another and their desire to entertain the fans above all.
Golden Boy Promotions chief Oscar De La Hoya, whose company brokered this fight in association with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, set the tone for the evening with his effusive praise of both combatants.
“I think styles make fights and the fact that Canelo wants to be great, the fact that Jacobs wants to be great, there’s no other way but to make this fight a great one for the fans,” predicted De La Hoya. “Canelo is going to come with everything. Jacobs is going to come with everything. And I’ll tell you one thing – come Cinco de Mayo, the fans are going to get their money’s worth, and the fans are going to win with this one.”
Alvarez was a little more measured in his comments but he too acknowledged the formidable challenge posed by the IBF champ, explaining his motivation less than a year removed from the biggest win of his career, last September against Gennady Golovkin.
“Why Daniel Jacobs? I know he’s a tough opponent and I know he’s complicated, but he’s a world champion and I’ve always said that I wanted to write history and to be the best you have to beat the best,” explained Alvarez. “This is no exception. I love challenges and I want the people to know when they come to see my fights they’re going to get the best fights. I may win, I may lose, I may draw, but, I’ll tell you what – you know that my heart is a winning heart and May 4th is not an exception. I’m coming to win for you [gesturing to the fans in attendance].”
For Jacobs, while it may be cliché, he’ll be the first to admit that, in some ways, just sharing the stage with Alvarez is a victory in and of itself after battling osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that sidelined him from the ring for much of 2011 and 2012 and at one point left him confined to a wheelchair.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” reflected Jacobs. “When I couldn’t move, when I was fighting for my life, all I wanted to do was step foot in the ring. This is what brings me happiness.”
But Jacobs also emphasized that he wasn’t content just to make it to the big stage, and that he planned to leave the ring on May 4th with Canelo’s belts as the unified middleweight champion. “They’ll be saying there’s a new middleweight king of the division and his name is Daniel Jacobs from Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. I say that with every confidence. I believe in my heart that I can be victorious, so whether that comes by decision or knockout, I see myself having my hand raised by the end of the night.”
Despite Jacobs’ confidence, on the other side of the stage Alvarez was business as usual, avoiding any hint of trash talk and breaking down his opponent in his typical reserved, analytical style. “He’s a very complete fighter that knows how to use the ring, move, and change guard, but that’s what we’re going to work on in camp to find those weaknesses and expose them,” explained Alvarez. When asked whether he believed he could knock out Jacobs, Alvarez replied matter-of-factly, “In boxing anything can happen, and I always go out to look for the knockout because winning by knockout is more spectacular and that’s what I want to give the fans. But anything can happen, I’m always prepared for that, and I’m ready to adapt.”
Jacobs, for his part, expressed his mutual respect for Alvarez but suggested his opponent might be underestimating what he brings to the table. “At this point there’s very few holes in Canelo’s game. As far as Canelo facing the best, he has. His resume speaks for itself,” admitted Jacobs. “But one thing we have to mention is that, Canelo might have fought a big dude before. He might have fought a talented guy before. Or a fast guy, or a guy with a high boxing IQ. But he’s never faced all of those things in one night and that’s what I believe I possess.”
Aside from the compelling matchup, Canelo vs. Jacobs also represents a turning point in the sport of boxing, being arguably the biggest fight on a new platform since Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns ushered in the era of mainstream pay-per-view in 1981. This fight will be shown on DAZN, a sports-dedicated subscription streaming service that made waves in the industry last October when it announced a 5-year, 11-fight contract with Alvarez worth $365 million, which the participants at Monday’s press conference repeatedly reminded those in attendance was the richest contract in sports history.
When asked what was the motivation for Alvarez to sign with DAZN over traditional media platforms, De la Hoya explained that, while Alvarez would get paid irrespective of which platform shows his fights, video streaming offers the best combination of revenue and affordability.
“It was a decision by the whole team,” explained De la Hoya. “Canelo loves his fans. We want the best fights to happen without having to pay $80, $90 for pay-per-view. If Canelo fights two or three times in a year, you don’t have to pay $270 dollars, you only have to pay $9.99 per month to watch Canelo Alvarez, [heavyweight champion] Anthony Joshua, the very best.”
By the end of the evening, with the fighters and their teams having shared the stage in mutual respect, De La Hoya channeled his inner Don King with a final appeal for the fans not to miss out on what most pundits agree is an outstanding matchup. “Canelo’s getting better in every single fight. We don’t know how he’s going to do on the 4th of May because he keeps getting better. Jacobs is the same, he’s hungry, he’s determined. Having to survive cancer, do you think anything is going to stop him? Do you think he’s going to see Canelo across the ring and have fear? This is a fight for the ages, this is a candidate for fight of the year, I guarantee it.”
Canelo vs. Jacobs will take place on May 4, 2019, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be streamed live exclusively on DAZN.