Canelo or Jacobs? SN's expert picks, predictions for Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs fight

Sporting News
The SN staff picks between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs in their huge middleweight title unification fight Saturday night.
The SN staff picks between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs in their huge middleweight title unification fight Saturday night.

The winner of Saturday night's middleweight title unification fight between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs would be one major belt away from being crowned the undisputed ruler of the division.

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That's precisely why there's so much excitement and buzz around the fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and well beyond — including Sporting News' offices.

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Here, SN's staff picks between the favorite and WBA (Super)/WBC/The Ring/Lineal champion Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) and the IBF titleholder Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs).

CANELO VS. JACOBS: Read the latest news and features at SN's fight HQ

Andreas Hale

Prediction: Canelo Alvarez def. Daniel Jacobs via split decision

Although Jacobs is coming in as a nearly 4-1 underdog, he possesses the tools to hand Canelo his second defeat and add the WBA (Super), WBC, The Ring and lineal middleweight titles to his collection. He’s bigger and faster than Gennady Golovkin with a high boxing IQ and a serious will to win.

It can also be argued that Jacobs fared better against GGG in defeat than Canelo did in his split draw and split decision victory against the Kazakh fighter. He’ll be unlike any opponent Canelo has faced with his size, reach and the ability to have a high punch output with power in both hands.

What makes this difficult is that it’s really, really hard to see a way that Jacobs can convince the judges of something that GGG, Erislandy Lara and one judge in the Floyd Mayweather couldn’t: a clear victory.

Somehow, Canelo always finds a way to squeeze out a win and do just enough to make things complicated when it’s a close fight. He's the A-Side and Jacobs will likely have to find a way to put the remarkably talented Canelo on the canvas. Otherwise, this will end up being a nip and tuck affair that can be influenced by a pro-Canelo crowd screaming at the top of their lungs whenever the Mexican comes close to landing a punch.

The perfect fight might not be enough for Jacobs to win and I suspect it’s going to take something unexpected for “The Miracle Man” to pull off the upset in the eyes of the judges. Canelo is simply good at everything with the ability to adjust on the fly, land clean punches and make his opponent miss with exceptional body movement. If Canelo isn’t forced out of his comfort zone and/or hurt, he’s going to win a narrow and controversial decision.

MORE: Betting odds, expert picks, prop bets and how to bet on the fight

Bradley Cullen

Prediction: Canelo by unanimous decision

This is Canelo’s moment to stamp his authority on the division and all eyes will be on him. Jacobs will be on the front foot from the beginning, winning the opening rounds by using his reach to keep Canelo at a distance. Canelo will start to wear Jacobs down as we enter the second half of the bout. I don’t see any knockdowns coming in this fight, but both men will happily trade blow for blow in the championship rounds. It should be close on the cards, but one of them will be heavily in the Mexican's favor.

Mark Lelinwalla

Prediction: Daniel Jacobs via split decision

It goes against conventional wisdom to pick Daniel Jacobs by decision, especially considering the same judges that gave Canelo the nod in his rematch with GGG in September will be presiding Saturday night. That is, unless, Jacobs catches Canelo off guard and surprisingly knocks him down early. It's asking for a whole lot, but for some reason, I see that happening. From the moment this fight was made, I said Jacobs' complex movement will give Canelo problems and I'm sticking to that.

I see "The Miracle Man" coming out and confusing Canelo with his movement, ability to switch guards and move to southpaw while also using his size and range to his advantage. Toward the middle rounds — perhaps earlier — Canelo will make adjustments, get inside and catch up to the point where the champion rounds decide the fight, with Jacobs landing the key punches to take the key rounds, eke out the victory and cement his fighting legacy. We've gotten accustomed to Canelo getting the decision.

Now, just imagine what will happen if he doesn't.

MORE: Industry experts predict Canelo vs. Jacobs

Steven Muehlhausen

Prediction: Canelo by ninth-round knockout

Everyone and their mother is picking Canelo Alvarez to win on Saturday night as if Daniel Jacobs is just showing up to get a giant payday. Those are the ones who have never seen how good the IBF titlist really is, as he's no worse than the third best middleweight in the world, slightly behind Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

It's so hard to pick a winner in this fight. Alvarez and Jacobs are incredibly talented. Facing the biggest name in the sport is the match Jacobs has been looking for the last two years. He's not going to be content trying to outbox Alvarez. He's going to work to prove he truly is the best middleweight in the world.

Jacobs is going to test Alvarez's conditioning by staying in Alvarez's face and making him work for everything. Alvarez can't take rounds off — Jacobs will make sure of that. If Alvarez can get inside, then he can start pounding his vaunted left hand into Jacobs' body and wear him down that way.

Alvarez will be able to get on the inside and start to wear Jacobs' body down in the middle rounds. Doing that opens Jacobs up to be exposed upstairs in which the Mexican superstar ends up connecting with a left hand to put the Brooklyn native on the canvas and looking up at the lights.

Chris Walker

Prediction: Saul Alvarez wins via unanimous decision

This is Saul Alvarez, the darling of Las Vegas, and in fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Gennady Golovkin, the Mexican man has been given far more rounds than he deserved.

Against GGG, in two fights, only one scorecard went the way of the Kazakh fighter when the consensus scoring favored him in both fights. Although Daniel Jacobs loves a miracle like his moniker suggests, getting a decision against Canelo is surely out of bounds.

This will be close for the entire fight, and I don’t see Jacobs having the expertise or power to dominate or floor Canelo. He’ll have learned valuable lessons from the Golovkin fight where he was narrowly beaten, but will it be enough to be awarded rounds against a fighter who always seems to be given the benefit of the doubt? Jacobs complained massively following the Golovkin loss; he may have to revisit that period in the aftermath of Saturday as Canelo confirms his supremacy under controversial circumstances.

The SN staff sides with Canelo by the count of 4-1, with one writer predicting a stoppage.

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