This weekend Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Danny Jacobs come together in a mouth-watering middleweight world-title bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The IBF, WBA and WBC belts are all on the line and the winner will rightfully claim to be the top dog of the middleweight division.
Bookmakers currently price Canelo as the odds on favourite (-450), with Jacobs’ price somewhat more attractive at +333. Looking solely at recent records and performances, Jacob’s odds immediately smack as longer than they should be. The most obvious yardstick for both these fighters is their performances against Gennady Golovkin. Both have gone 12 rounds with Golovkin but Canelo has a draw and victory against GGG, whilst Jacobs has a single loss. However, those facts alone do not tell the full story. Both Canelo’s decisions against Golovkin are contestable; many observers (this one included) felt Golovkin won the first bout that was declared a draw by the judges. The second bout, which Canelo won, also appeared to be scored more favourably for the Mexican by the judges. Jacobs, on the other hand, may have got the wrong end of the decision against Triple G. Going into the final round many had the scorecards level between the two fighters and some felt Jacobs did enough to win the fight. Either way you look at it, all three fighters appear to operate at a similar level and the current pricing for Jacobs is surely longer than he deserves.
Beyond making obvious comparisons between their performances against Golovkin, there is also a very interesting style match up to consider. Jacobs poses a huge test for Canelo: he is extremely good at boxing on the back foot, he’s slick, quick and a great mover. These attributes are exactly the ones that Canelo has struggled against in the past (see his performances against Lara and Mayweather) and while Canelo’s footwork has improved, he will have his work cut out to match Jacobs in that department. Add into the mix that Jacobs will be naturally bigger on the night and hits very hard; it is difficult to see why Canelo is so heavily favoured in this fight.
The only explanation for such a preference in pricing from the bookmakers must be Canelo’s “knack” for getting favourable decisions from judges. There is a strong chance this fight goes the distance (both went 12 with the biggest punching middleweight – Triple G), so the judges are likely to play a role and Canelo has a history of being awarded favourable decisions by the scorers. With that in mind, a split or majority decision victory in favour of Canelo, in what is likely to be a very close fight, are great markets, offering chunky returns for backing the odds on favourite Canelo (the draw market is also worth consideration). However, the most obvious value bet in this fight is Daniel Jacobs to win outright. In a fight that many consider a 50/50 pick ‘em in terms of ability, you’re able to more than quadruple your money with Jacobs. If you want to add even more profit, then back Jacobs, method of victory by decision at +600. Considering how well matched these two fighters are, it looks a no brainer.