THE controversy started before the fight even began. Canelo Alvarez and Danny Jacobs had contracted between themselves to come in no higher than 10lbs above the middleweight limit on the morning of their IBF, WBA and WBC title unification in Las Vegas. It emerged that while Alvarez was fine at 169lbs in their private weigh at 8am on Saturday morning, Jacobs was 173.6lbs and could face a huge financial penalty, with some reports indicating it could be up to $1 million. (Jacobs only said that it was a “hefty fine”.) Regardless the three world titles remained on the line for their fight at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The two fighters began quietly, probing for openings in their rival’s defences. Alvarez however was sharp, especially in the first half of the fight. Canelo’s left was quick, particularly as a jab hitting the head and the body. He uncorked it as a hook, a threatening shot.

Alvarez’s movement with his upperbody saw him elude many of Jacobs’ jabs. It left the American throwing that lead without conviction, the confidence beginning to leak from his work.

The sixth round however was key for Jacobs. He switched southpaw and stayed in that stance, his left cross now enjoying success as he tagged Canelo. Sensing a brief shift in momentum Alvarez burst out of the traps quickly to start the next session. He still wandered on to the occasional hook though. It was in the ninth round however that Jacobs slammed a massive left hook into Alvarez’s chin. Canelo withstood it, his legs firm but that was a hurtful blow.

“I received a hard shot,” the Mexican admitted after. “I said it was no big deal, I just continued with my fight.”

The pace of the bout was never ferocious but Jacobs was managing to claw back rounds. He loomed over Alvarez, his size beginning to tell. He forced Canelo into the ropes, catching his body with hooks. But the Mexican stabilised, still able to find quality combinations, slamming his solid right cross over the top.

Canelo took a unanimous decision win to add the IBF middleweight crown to the WBA and WBC titles he already held. Steve Weisfeld and Glenn Feldman both saw it 116-112, while Dave Moretti scored 115-113.

Jacobs was sanguine about the result. He believed he had a case for victory, even if it was a closely contested fight. “He’s a tremendous champion,” Jacobs said. “I gave my all out there. We’ll see Danny Jacobs bigger and better next time.”

“I got the short end of the stick,” he added. “The journey’s not over.”

Canelo insisted he’d always known it would be difficult going. “We just did our job,” Alvarez said.

There are appealing options for Canelo to take on next. Demetrius Andrade, the WBO middleweight champion, will defend his belt on June 29 against Maciej Sulecki at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Rhode Island and so could be the opponent to decide on an undisputed middleweight champion. Aside from that completing a trilogy with Gennady Golovkin of course will always be an exciting fight. “For me we’re done,” Canelo said. “But if people want another fight, I’ll fight him again and I’ll beat him again.

“I’m just looking for the biggest challenge.”

Canelo Alvarez

On the undercard Joseph Diaz hammered Freddy Fonseca, halting him in seven rounds at super-featherweight. He is gunning for a shot at IBF champion Tevin Farmer.

Golden Boy prospect Vergil Ortiz moved up from light-welter to take on Mauricio Herrera and impressed, knocking out the wily veteran in only three rounds. No one has stopped Herrera before and Ortiz did it in emphatic fashion.

Lamont Roach unanimously outpointed Jonathan Oquendo over 10 rounds.

Anthony Young upset Sadam Ali, stopping him in the third round of a scheduled 10.

British super-middleweight John Ryder took out Bilal Akkawy in three rounds,

Aram Avagyan  won his 10 rounder with Francisco Esparza on a unanimous decision and Alexis Espino took a four round points victory over Billy Wagner in his second professional fight.