May 7th, 2022, will go down as a historic date in boxing history. Canelo Alvarez wasn’t just the pound-for-pound king, the best fighter in the sport. He was a true crossover star, the highest-paid professional athlete in the world in 2021, and one of the biggest and most recognizable names in sports all over the world. So when he takes an L it’s news. Not just boxing news, but international news. The man that made that international news is Dmitry Bivol, who in culminating fashion outpointed Canelo to move his perfect record to 20-0 (11) retained his WBA Light heavyweight crown that he has held for nearly five years, and captured our Fighter of the Week award and puts his name on the pound for pound lists and forever in the history books as the man who knocked Canelo off the pedestal.
Bivol had looked extremely ordinary and beatable in his last few outings. In 2019 Lenin Castillo was badly outmatched but had lots of moments against. In 2020 Craig Richards nearly rallied to beat him and in 2021 he had a poor performance against Umar Salamov. There was little to no reason to think he had any chance against the pound-for-pound king of the sport who has looked absolutely, unbeatable in recent years. That seemed to change in the early going as Bivol was extremely competitive in the early going, keeping Canelo at bay, working behind classic one-two’s, and not retreating. Standing firm Bivol was able to hold his ground and make Canelo miss to the point that the fight appeared fair even after four, despite the absurd hand cards that the judges handed in. Bivol seized control of the fight in the middle rounds Bivol had Canelo backed in the ropes and was battering him with combinations. At that point, the boxing world realized Canelo was in some trouble. Things got no better as Bivol controlled the middle rounds by controlling the range and out-landed Canelo round after round. Canelo rallied in the ninth and it appeared for a moment that Canelo had a chance as he got onto the inside and worked Bivol’s body landing thudding shots. However, the momentum was short-lived as Bivol regained control in the final three rounds sweeping them on all three cards and that proved to be the difference on cards that were far too close as Bivol took the UD by scores of 115-113 on all three cards.
The next step for Bivol and Canelo is fairly obvious. There is a rematch clause and Canelo without a doubt is going to exercise it. Eddie Hearn wants Canelo to fight GGG, beat him, and then fight Bivol. That almost certainly isn’t going to happen. Canelo is a true warrior who thinks he is going to beat Bivol and the fight will be made. The only question is will the fight be at 175 again or at 168. Bivol, who allegedly went into the ring at 183, said he could make the super middleweight limit of 168-pounds. If the winner of that fight goes on to fight the winner of Beterbiev/ Smith jr, which takes place on June 18th, we could realistically have one man unify all four belts in both the 168 and 175-pound division. Given Bivol’s most recent performance the betting odds should make him the favorite to do that.