Wednesday, December 06, 2023  |

By Tom Gray | 


This fighter is going to DAZN! This fighter is going to ESPN! This fighter is going to Fox! This guy is getting $150 million! This guy is getting more than that! This guy …

You get the picture, right? We’ve been listening to business rhetoric for months.

Despite the fact that a plethora of in-demand matchups are being sabotaged by network allegiances and promotional bickering, boxing is certainly thriving in terms of dollars. The sport has never been more readily available to the consumer, and elite-level fighters are earning a fortune as a result. Would we deny them that? Absolutely not. They put their lives on the line for our entertainment. But let’s dump the number-crunching and get down to punching.

In past decades, The Ring would build up to big fights by speaking to true boxing experts, most notably active or retired professionals. Did Jack Dempsey think Joe Louis could beat Rocky Marciano? What did Joe Frazier think of Muhammad Ali’s chances against George Foreman? Could Thomas Hearns envision Sugar Ray Leonard upsetting Marvelous Marvin Hagler? There were scores of notable fights where contenders, ex-champions and reigning champions made predictions, and fight fans adored that insider perspective.

Well, the old-school approach is back for an old-school prizefight.

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated middleweight unification showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs on May 4, The Bible of Boxing reached out to as many former 160-pound titleholders as it could to obtain some pure fighter opinions. Included in the lineup are former champs, Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers and all-time greats.

Simply put, who knows more than they do?



Ring/WBC/WBO champion (2007-10)

“Daniel Jacobs is the total package – a big, athletic boxer-puncher who’s also versatile and smart. This fight with Canelo could be a great one if he puts it all together on May 4, but I don’t see Danny using what he’s got. And that has more to do more with what’s upstairs and what’s in the heart than anything physical. If he fought to his full potential for even nine out of 12 rounds, he’d be unbeatable. But he doesn’t do that.

“I like Danny a lot. I’m a huge fan of his and of Canelo. But being a Jacobs fan is frustrating. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s like his mind is elsewhere during a fight. He’ll have a great round, and in the very next round it’s like he’s mentally checked out of the fight and thinking about a shopping list or travel plans for next weekend. He’s still able to win most of his fights because of his talent, but if I were interviewing him in the ring after some of his recent wins, my question to him would be, ‘Why didn’t you fight the entire fight like you did in the third round?’

“The loss to Gennady Golovkin was probably his best performance. He’s had great moments in all his fights, but the GGG fight stands out to me. It was surprising, because after he got dropped in the fourth round it was a whole new fight. He got up and used his boxing IQ, made the right moves, threw the right punches, and he used his body to get GGG’s respect and gradually work his way into the fight. I wish he always fought like he fought over the second half of the Golovkin fight.

“What is it that Canelo has that Jacobs doesn’t? Confidence. Mental focus. It’s not like he’s got more skill than Jacobs. He’s got fast hands, solid chin, good defense, he’s very smart and technically sound. Canelo’s the total package too, but he’s also got a lot of balls and heart. You’re not going to see Canelo give up any time soon.

“He’ll have to be on point to beat a boxer as big, fast and skillful as Jacobs. You gotta be prepared to fight Jacobs. And you have to FIGHT him. You have to stay active, because Jacobs takes breaks, he loses mental focus, almost like he’d rather be somewhere else.

“Canelo wins it. I can see him stopping Jacobs between rounds 8 and 12 from brutal body shots. Canelo is a dangerous body-puncher. I can see it getting brutal by the late rounds – even a corner retirement. I can also see it going the distance with Canelo winning it. I’ve seen too much of Jacobs not fighting to his potential to pick him.

“Of course, Canelo could drop him and wake him up like GGG did and we’ll get a Fight of the Year. I think Jacobs wakes up halfway through the fight and makes it a fight, or Canelo wears him down and takes his heart. Canelo’s got so much momentum right now. He could even make some noise at 168 pounds. He’s hard to slow down right now.”

Prediction: CANELO


Ring/WBC champion (1987)

“I’ve watched Canelo for a long time, and when he fought Floyd Mayweather I knew it was going to be a student against a teacher, and it was. But since then, I’ve seen Canelo develop, grow, get better each and every fight. I was impressed with him in the rematch against Golovkin, because he was aggressive and he controlled the tempo in that fight. My friends and I were blown away with those tactics, and we were saying, ‘Surely he’s not going to do that,’ but he did. With Danny Jacobs, we should see the best of him in this fight. He’s such an inspiration, having beaten cancer, and that’s his toughest opponent ever. To do that says so much about his character, his belief and his heart. You cannot count Jacobs out against anyone, but styles make fights and I just edge towards Canelo.”

Prediction: CANELO


WBC champion (1988-89)

“Canelo was always going to be able to handle middleweight, because he was a big junior middleweight. Gaining the weight was going to be natural for him, and he’s no pancake. Saying that, it was a surprise that he stood in front of Golovkin (in the rematch), and I think he’ll try and do the same thing in this fight. But I’ve seen Jacobs; he’s a good fighter, and I think he can pull this off. He has to be really sharp to go at him and use his jab and boxing skills. Jacobs can win a decision in Las Vegas, but he’s gonna have to really fight, and it would be better if he got Canelo out of there. Jacobs should be looking to dominate this fight.”

Prediction: JACOBS

READ: 10 notable middleweight title bouts between sluggers


IBF champion (1991-93)

“Canelo’s a good young fighter, but when he fights Jacobs he’s fighting somebody special. It’ll be a great fight regardless of what I think, but I believe Jacobs is the better fighter, the more skilled fighter, the smoother boxer, and he can punch. The second fight between Canelo and GGG was a great fight – my (first) fight with (Mike) McCallum was of a higher quality – but I feel that GGG won both of those fights. Jacobs isn’t as big a puncher as GGG, but this will be the first time that Canelo is going in there with a top opponent who is just as big, or maybe even bigger. My money is going on Jacobs. I just think he’s got more skills, more strength, and I think he’s the harder puncher.”

Prediction: JACOBS


WBA champion (1992-93)

“I think that’s a great fight. Canelo has learned so much since he fought Floyd (Mayweather Jr.). I think what he did to GGG was amazing; he took care of business. When Daniel Jacobs fought GGG, a lot of people thought he won that fight. (Canelo-Jacobs) is a 50-50 fight. I think this is a fight boxing really needs. With Jacobs knocking out cancer, it adds to his character, the man he is and his spirit – you’ve got to look at the guy from a different perspective. I just feel when a man survives and overcomes cancer, he can knock out anybody. I think it’s going to be a very competitive, close fight and Jacobs is going to win a close split decision.”

Prediction: JACOBS


WBO champion (1994-95)

“It’s a great fight for Jacobs, and I’m glad he’s getting it. He’s been plugging away for a long time, and this is a big opportunity for him. I just think Canelo is really special. I went over to Vegas for the Golovkin rematch and was very impressed with how he fought. I had him winning by three rounds, and it was a great fight. In fact, if they fight a third time, I actually think he’ll stop Golovkin – that’s how good I think Canelo is. Some fighters drop their game to the level of the opponent, but Canelo doesn’t. If a fighter isn’t on his level, he takes them out quick. This kid drops his game for nobody, and he’s a pure professional. I love the underdog, but my heart says Jacobs and my head says Canelo.”

Prediction: CANELO


IBF champion (1995-2005), undisputed champion (2001-05)

“Canelo will go through a round or two of adjusting to Jacobs’ boxing ability, height, size. But while Jacobs’ is the bigger fighter, Canelo is the more experienced of the two and he’s hungrier. The reason I think he’s hungrier is that $365 million contract with DAZN; he knows he has that money on paper, but he doesn’t have it in the bank yet. That’s a big incentive. Both have won world titles, so this fight is about building a legacy. I was instrumental in Canelo taking the fight and I was happy that he did. I rate Danny highly, but I like Canelo to win somewhere between the eighth and 10th rounds. I think Canelo, if he wants to, can win all the middleweight titles, and he might be the one to break my 20-defense record.”

Prediction: CANELO

READ: Ranking THE RING’s 31 middleweight champions

WBA champion (1996-97, 1998-2001)

“I think it’s going to be a good fight. I’m going by what Jacobs did against GGG: He survived 12 rounds, but it seemed like he was fighting just to survive 12 rounds. I think he has to bring the fight (to Canelo). Jacobs fought in spurts against GGG and wanted to prove to people he could go 12 rounds with this knockout artist. Canelo does everything well; he can box, he has good footwork, he’s a great fighter. I see Canelo as the aggressor. I see Canelo walking Jacobs down but Jacobs counterpunching. It’s a close fight; I’m going to say Canelo by split decision.”

Prediction: CANELO


WBO champion (2003-04), WBA champion (2006, 2007-12)

“Right now, Canelo is probably the strongest middleweight in the world, based on his victory over Golovkin. But Daniel Jacobs is bigger and he has a longer reach. Daniel needs to stay at distance, use his jab and control the fight. At the moment, Canelo is the top dog, the cash cow, and everyone wants to fight him, but I just hope for the sake of the boxing world that there are fair judges. I know from experience what can happen in the U.S. (Sturm lost a controversial decision to Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in 2004), but Daniel Jacobs has Eddie Hearn, and he’s a very powerful promoter. In boxing, the better man has to win, and for me this is a 50-50 fight. I just love the underdog, and Daniel has the bigger motivation; he’s a cancer survivor, he’s a world champion and he has the chance to become a huge star.”

Prediction: JACOBS


Ring champion (2010-2014), WBC champion (2010-11, 2012-14), WBO champion (2010)

“Jacobs has a boxing style that is quite spectacular. Canelo’s style is very effective, and that’s the main difference: spectacular vs. effective. It’s hard to see who has the best style. Jacobs had a great fight against Golovkin, Canelo had very even fights with GGG. To me, Canelo lost those two bouts, but in a third fight I am sure he could win more decisively. Even so, I believe there could be an upset in this fight. Actually, it’s not really an upset; to me, Jacobs will win. It will be a close, tough fight, but if I had to bet on one of them, I’d go with Jacobs. He is a fighter that has almost rebuilt himself. He came back from a terminal disease and was up there trading punches with one of the best in the division – and in the pound-for-pound rankings. I mean, he is completely unafraid of anything and knows exactly what he has to do. He is capable of managing timing and distance. He is able to control his emotions. He is able to balance himself during the fight. This is important, and it makes him stronger. We know he will be in top physical shape, but mentally he is a terrific boxer. If I had to bet, I’d say I would go with Jacobs. Canelo is a great champion – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Canelo win – but I am betting on Jacobs, yes sir!”  

Prediction: JACOBS


IBF champion (2013)

“I have Canelo the favorite, but I think Jacobs could push him all the way. Jacobs has to be smart, and he can’t allow Canelo to hold the center of the ring. If I was Jacobs, I would edge as close to center ring as I could. But if Canelo is able to keep him off and hold center ring, it’s important for Jacobs to keep space behind him so that he can move. Jacobs didn’t look at his best for (Sergiy) Derevyanchenko, but I think he’ll rise to the occasion for this one. Look at how well Jacobs did against Golovkin, and there was a lot of people who had him winning. Both guys did very well against Golovkin, and he’ll go down as one of the greatest middleweights of all time. I just think Canelo is so consistent, and even though there will be a lot of close rounds, I think his class and Mexican pride will see him through. I fancy Canelo on points.”

Prediction: CANELO


WBO champion (2014-15)

“I think this is the best fight out there at middleweight, and you have to commend both men for stepping up. If Canelo wins, for me he would be at the top of the pound-for-pound list, based on all the guys he’s beat. But Jacobs is not an easy fight for him, and he’ll present things that no other fighter in the division is capable of. He’s got experience, athleticism, height, power and ring craft. Jacobs showed in the Golovkin fight that he knows how to manage a fight for 12 rounds and pick his spots; he was defensive when he had to be and he was offensive when he had to be. They’re hard to split, but I would favor Canelo because he’s such a well-rounded boxer: He can fight on the back foot, he can fight going forward, he’s a brilliant counterpuncher, he can attack the body. It’s very close, but I’ll give the edge to Canelo on points.”

Prediction: CANELO



Canelo 7

Jacobs 5

Tom Gray is a U.K. Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of The Ring ratings panel.  Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing.

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