LAS VEGAS — Daniel Jacobs was bigger. Canelo Alvarez was better — but not by much.
Alvarez added another title belt to his collection Saturday night by winning rounds early and outboxing Jacobs in their middleweight showdown to win a close but unanimous 12-round decision.
Two ringside judges scored it 115-113, while the third had it 116-112. The Associated Press scored it 115-113 in favour of Alvarez.
"It was just what we thought," Alvarez said. "We just did our job."
Jacobs, who lost $1 million out of his purse by not making the contracted weight the morning of the fight, was clearly bigger than Alvarez and landed perhaps the biggest punch of the fight in the ninth round when he connected with a left hook.
But Alvarez was fast and quick and kept Jacobs off balance with his movement as he won a narrow decision in the same arena where he fought to a draw and a close win over Gennady Golovkin.
"He’s a pot shotter," Jacobs said. "I felt I did enough to get the victory."
The judges didn’t, though, largely because Alvarez was more active early and was the more aggressive of the two fighters. Alvarez built a lead early, winning the first five rounds on one scorecard and four of the five on the other two.
But Jacobs found himself midway through the fight and roared back to make it competitive on the scorecards. He won the 12th round on two of the three scorecards.
Alvarez, a 5-1 favourite at fight time, was tested but did enough to win in a fight that had no knockdowns and no serious fouls. Neither fighter ever appeared badly hurt, though Jacobs landed some of the bigger punches in the late rounds.
That included the left hook in the ninth that seemed to shake Alvarez, if only for a moment.
"It was a hard shot but I went to the corner and they asked me and I said it was no big deal," Alvarez said. "I continued with the fight. What do you want?"
Alvarez, the red-headed Mexican sensation, earned $35 million for risking his titles against Jacobs, a Brooklyn fighter who held a piece of the middleweight crown himself. He got another $1 million from the purse of Jacobs after Jacobs weighed in too heavy the day of the fight.
Jacobs had weighed in at the class limit of 160 pounds at the official weigh-in on Friday. But the two boxers had agreed in their contract not to weigh more than 170 pounds Saturday morning and Jacobs weighed 173.6.
Alvarez was aggressive from the opening bell, throwing punches with intent while Jacobs was content to try and fight from the outside while backing up most of the time. Neither fighter landed any sustained flurries, but Alvarez had more snap to his punches and landed them with more consistency.
By the middle rounds, Jacobs was switching from conventional to southpaw and back again, trying to find a rhythm. But Alvarez kept moving his head and making Jacobs miss, and often found him with a counter.
The two traded punches on several occasions, and Jacobs landed his biggest punch with a left hook in the ninth round that got the attention of Alvarez.