LAS VEGAS • Saul "Canelo" Alvarez won a close, often tense but uncontroversial decision over Daniel Jacobs in their hotly anticipated middleweight championship unification fight on Saturday night.
Ringside judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld turned in cards of 115-113, while Glenn Feldman scored it 116-112 as Alvarez (52-1-2 with 35 knockouts), unified boxing's 160-pound (72kg) division.
The Mexican added the American's International Boxing Federation belt to the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council straps that he won from Gennady Golovkin last September.
Alvarez has now all but cleaned it out - four years after capturing the lineal title from Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto to establish a foothold in the division.
After his second win since signing a five-year, 11-fight contract worth a minimum of US$365 million (S$497.4 million) with the streaming service DAZN, he told reporters: "It was just what we thought because of the style of fight he brings, but we did our job.
"I'm just looking for the biggest challenge. That's why I'm here. That's what I was born for, to fight, to defend what's mine. I'll fight anyone."
Jacobs (35-3 with 29 knockouts), who entered the bout as a 6-1 underdog with bookmakers, had trouble finding the elusive Alvarez for long stretches of the fight before a rollicking Cinco de Mayo weekend crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.
Although he tweaked his tactics to come on strong in the second half, landing 131 of 649 punches (20 per cent), Alvarez, whose patience, poise and exquisite technique were on full display for 12 rounds, still connected with 118 of 466 of his punches (40 per cent).
Admitting his opponent was "a tremendous champion", Jacobs, whose "Miracle Man" nickname stems from having overcome bone cancer, said: "I tip my hat to him (Alvarez). I gave my all out there."
The day had started with a hint of controversy when Jacobs came in 3.7lb over the contracted rehydration limit of 170. But, though the cost of the blown weight check was steep, he was content to forfeit nearly US$1 million of his US$10 million guarantee for the best chance of winning.
Having now claimed three of the four major belts at 160lb, Alvarez, who earned US$35 million on the night, may target World Boxing Organisation title-holder Demetrius Andrade for his customary September fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend to become an undisputed champion.
But a third fight with Golovkin, the first ending in a controversial draw, which was further marred by Alvarez's positive drug test in the lead-up to the rematch, would be a bigger hit commercially.
The Kazakh, who is also signed with DAZN and was at ringside, tried to talk up a third instalment.
He slagged off the fight, during which neither man was knocked down or in serious trouble, as "boring" and "just a sparring match".
Golovkin, whom many observers believed won their first fight in September 2017, tweeted: "They should give more to the audience, the boxing community. I didn't see any emotions. I didn't see anything special."