Canelo Alvarez pursuit of the history books has hit a speed bump and perhaps even a detour. Alvarez faced off against Dmitry Bivol last night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez challenged Bivol for his Light-Heavyweight WBA title. He failed.
From the opening bell of Round 1, Bivol established the tone of the bout. On the surface, Bivol used his jab to measure and keep Alvarez at bay. This jab, coupled with Bivol’s height and reach advantages successfully helped Bivol win the opening round. Beyond the surface it was indicative of what was to come, a bout in which Bivol would be the busier and more effective fighter.
Despite traditionally starting slow, Canelo quick asserted himself in the second and third rounds. Targeting Bivol’s arms, a strategy succefully employed against the likes of Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, to get Bivol to drop what was a high defensive guard. However, unlike past opponents at Super-Middleweight and Middleweight, Canelo’s punches did not seem to have the same impact on the bigger Bivol. They did not move him back and if anything, he continued his forward charge on Canelo, successfully landing one-two punch combinations in succession that not only pierced Canelo’s guard but moved him back.
This pace continued throughout the bout but was never more apparent than in Round 5 when Bivol landed a succession of one-two combinations. Canelo nodded his head, as if to signal they had no effect, which in boxing is clearly a sign that they did. Canelo would try to goad Bivol into a slugfest to employ his counter game, but Bivol did not bite. Bivol would continue to stick to his strategy of a steady stream of one-two combinations with a healthy does of lateral movement through Round 11. It was this Round 11 which Canelo signaled his own defeat. Frustrated after a successful stream of punches by Bivol, as they tangled up in a clinch Canelo literally attempted to lift Bivol like a wrestler. A sign Canelo’s was clearly frustrated, and desperation clearly began to set in.
In the final round Canelo made a last-ditch effort to score what was a necessary knock out, landing several left uppercuts. However, he also appeared to tire at this point. Add to that Bivol was able to withstand the barrage and more importantly, counter with punches of his own that were enough to give Canelo pause.
The judges all scored the bout 115-113 to give Bivol a unanimous decision. After the fight, Canelo gave mixed messages about the result and a rematch. In the post ring interview, he told the press “He’s a great champion…Sometimes in boxing, you win and sometimes you lose. I have no excuses. He won the fight.” Yet, seemed to change his tune in the post-fight press conference stating “Personally, I’m feeling good. I’m not giving any excuses. I do feel that I won the fight. I think perhaps, maybe I lost four or five rounds, but I definitely didn’t lose the fight. I think I got a little bit tired towards the final rounds, but I felt good. We’ll see what’s next.”
What’s next? Also, a bit of an unknown. The contract for the fight contains a rematch clause which Canelo initially indicated to the press that he is keen to exercise stating, “Of course I do. This doesn’t end like this.” But, at the post-fight press conference he was more ambiguous stating “We’re going to go see what’s next, talk about it and we’ll let you know,” Alvarez said. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
As for Bivol, he’s certainly game for Bivol-Canelo 2, telling the press. “Let’s talk about a rematch,” he said. “I wanted this fight because I wanted to get the opportunity and I appreciate this opportunity.
“I’m ready for a rematch, I just want to be treated as the champion now.”
Until then check out the highlights of Canelo vs. Bivol here.