Bivol vs Alvarez: Bivol Upsets The Odds
By Donna Conley
Canelo Alvarez went into the fight the favourite by most due to his record, name, and dare I say it, celebrity. However, you would be remiss to make out as though there was zero belief or backing for Dmitry Bivol too – it just came in whispers versus the screams for Canelo.
At the final press conference both men were respectful and remained poker faced, and the weigh in was much of the same – both seeming confident, looking healthy, and ready to go.
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was heavily laden with Canelo fans and the celebrations of Cinco De Mayo weekend, taking the atmosphere into another gear. Although Bivol was the reigning WBA light-heavyweight champion he made the walk first, he was calm, locked in, and undeterred by the boo’s that echoed. Then came Canelo – the challenger walking second, once the theatrics and concert style walk were done, the bell rang for the first round, and it was finally down to business.
Bivol started as he meant to go on and took immediate control of the fight – contrary to the judges’ scorecards giving Canelo the first four rounds, it was Bivol that set the pace and tone. By round four, Canelo looked frustrated and at a loss, Bivol was providing a test that Canelo did not know how to pass.
Throughout the entirety of the fight Bivol used his pace, distance, intellect, and patience and never once allowed himself to be drawn into Canelo’s fight. Where most would usually suffer at the ropes under Canelo, Bivol used his quick movement to push and slip away, and what did land from Canelo had no effect or significance.
There were some notable moments from Canelo landing a couple nice uppercuts, a few body shots, and used tactics similar against Callum Smith, chopping away at Bivol’s left arm. There were some moments in which Bivol could have looked to stop or knock Canelo out as he took some punishing flurries and combinations.
Canelo’s best round was arguably the ninth. However, in fairness and truth, the main credit that must be given to him was the heart shown that saw him make it to the final bell.
There is no denying that Bivol provided Canelo with a boxing masterclass and any true boxing fan cannot say otherwise. All of Canelo’s usual tactics fell by the waste side – he tried to attack the body but Bivol’s defence and space prevented that, he tried to land devastating uppercuts, but Bivol’s guard and stature handled them, and even when he tried to cause damage to Bivol’s dominant left arm carrying his relentless jab, Bivol’s pace and distance counteracted that too. Admittedly, it was hard not to be taken in and amused by the cheekiness of Bivol pointing out his arm to Canelo once “And Still” had been called.
You could argue to a degree that the unnatural weight causing fatigue took away the sting of Canelo’s punches, but I air on the side of caution saying so. There should not be one single element of what Bivol did last night should be taken away regardless of potential mitigating reasons.
At no point did Bivol allow the magnitude to the support, event, or previous record of Canelo to affect his focus, plans, or mental strength. He was a true champion last night in every aspect.
The judges scored the fight 115–113, giving Canelo five rounds to Bivol’s seven. Whilst you can appreciate scoring is subjective, to discredit Bivol in that way despite giving him the win gives food for thought in two ways; firstly, the power and influence Canelo carries and secondly, the competency/fan like and jaded behaviour from the judges.
It is wrong to just be glad Bivol even got the win – the scores should have been true to the fight.
Canelo is every bit a champion of this sport and despite his loss, you must credit him for stepping up against an undefeated, young, and in his prime light-heavyweight.
Now the question – what should Canelo do next? Does he move back down to super-middleweight? Does he take a few months out to allow his body to recover from his relentless seven fights in three years? Or does he remain in the 175lbs division, master his craft at a bigger weight, and see what the future holds as a light-heavyweight?
Bivol should be given his moment and be allowed to take on the winner of Beterbiev vs Smith Jr. If Canelo is then still hell bent on the rematch and seeks revenge, let what will be, be.