On Saturday, May 7th, Dmitry Bivol retained his WBA Light Heavyweight Championship by defeating the consensus pound for pound king, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Bivol is the bigger man and used that size to his advantage in a major way throughout the entire bout. Bivol is a very discipline boxer, who does not make mistakes.
We saw that discipline on full display as Bivol, outboxed Canelo, on Saturday night. Bivol stayed behind his jab and straight right combinations as well as his high guard, making it difficult for Canelo to mount any type of, effective, offensive attack. We have seen Canelo beat naturally bigger opponents throughout his career like; Callum Smith, Sergey Kovalev, Rocky Fielding, and Daniel Jacobs among others. So what did Dmitry Bivol do, that those other bigger boxers, could not?
When a boxer is known for his defensive abilities, we think of those who are great at dodging punches like, Floyd Mayweather Jr or Pernell Whitaker. There are also great defensive fighters who are great at blocking punches like Ronald "Winky" Wright or Bernard Hopkins. Bivol did a great job of blocking Canelo's punches and slightly moving to the side to make it hard for Alvarez to land anything solid. When Canelo did land anything solid, Bivol was able to take those punches without showing any effects from the punches.
The WBA Light Heavyweight Champion also did a great job of keeping Canelo at bay with his jab and straight right hand. Then he would also back up that 1,2 combo with a 1,2,1 combo or even throw 4 or 5 punches with great accuracy, not giving Canelo a chance to counter. At times you could see Canelo getting frustrated as he could see the fight getting further and further away from him. All three of the official judges scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Bivol but most fans felt the fight wasn't as close as the judges scored it. So now the question is what's next for Canelo and Bivol?
There was a rematch clause in the contract for Canelo, which is not usually in a contract for the boxer that is challenging for a championship. This shows the power that Canelo had in the negotiations. Bivol stated in the post fight interview that he wants to be treated like the champion in the rematch. Canelo came out second to the ring, as if he was the champion and I'm pretty sure he received a much bigger cut of the money. Don't get me wrong, Canelo is the much bigger draw, so he earned the bigger cut but now Bivol has some more power for the negotiation of he rematch. So Bivol will make more money and come out second to the ring, like the champion should.
Canelo is a prideful man and wants to avenge his lost to Bivol. Should he rethink taking this rematch, though? Canelo is an all-time great boxer, who is in his physical prime. He will go back to the drawing board and come with a new game plan to try and defeat Bivol. From what I saw on Saturday night, there are no direct adjustments that will lead to victory for Canelo. This is where this becomes a catch 22 for Canelo. If he does not fight against Bivol, fans will look at this lost as a way to take away from his greatness and say he ran from taking two losses in a row but if he does fight Bivol again and gets dominated, it may take away from his total legacy.
If I was a part of Canelo's team. I may advise him to take a fight against Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, Jermall Charlo or one of the contenders at 168 pounds like David Benavidez. If Canelo is able to defeat one of those opponents before fighting Dmitry Bivol again. If he does lose to Bivol, he will have the built in excuse of Bivol being the naturally bigger boxer and his legacy will take a lesser hit.
There is no perfect way to approach this but as a boxing fan, I do appreciate the fact that Canelo wants to chase history and seems to be willing to fight anyone. Now if Canelo does take a fight with a smaller fighter before fighting Bivol again. Bivol should take on the winner of Joe Smith Jr vs Artur Beterbiev. Bivol has already defeated Smith but a win over Beterbiev would earn him a rematch, in my opinion. If Beterbiev wins, it will set up a super match-up of undefeated light heavyweights, going at it to determine the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
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