May 7, 2022 - 9:48 pm
Updated May 7, 2022 - 11:31 pm
Thousands of boxing fans descended on Las Vegas for Cinco De Mayo weekend to see the sport’s biggest star in a marquee fight. What they didn’t expect was to see Canelo Alvarez lose.
But that’s exactly what a packed T-Mobile Arena crowd witnessed Saturday night, when WBA 175-pound titlist Dmitry Bivol outboxed the Mexican superstar, winning a unanimous decision to stun the pro-Alvarez crowd.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, what you do, you achieve nothing,” Bivol said. “My team believed in me. And you all should believe in yourselves, and you’ll achieve what you want.”
All three judges scored the fight 115-113.
“Sorry I broke your plans with Gennadiy Golovkin,” said Bivol, referring to the trilogy fight between Alvarez and Golovkin that was expected in September if Alvarez won Saturday.
Bivol used his jab and timing to frustrate the heavily favored Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 knockouts) throughout the fight. Alvarez looked shockingly out of his depth, unable to find a way inside and mount a consistent attack.
Bivol’s size advantage was clear from the moment they stepped to the center of the ring after the opening bell. As he often does, Alvarez came out with a tactical approach, trying to look for a way inside against the crafty Bivol, who pawed at Alvarez with his jab.
Alvarez, who closed as a -550 betting favorite, continued to look for the uppercut and had success in the early rounds when Bivol (20-0, 11 knockouts) ended up against the ropes. But it was the reigning 175-pound titleholder who utilized his speed and technical ability to clearly win the exchanges at distance, frustrating the fans on hand to witness Alvarez’s second move to the light heavyweight division.
The second half of the fight started out similarly, as Alvarez moved forward with a little more urgency. In the eighth, Bivol pinned Alvarez against the ropes for a prolonged period, dictating the pace of the fight while Alvarez struggled to find an opening.
Alvarez came flying out of the corner in the ninth round and took the fight right at Bivol, pressing forward instead of hanging back and looking for openings. Bivol settled in for the middle of the round, but Alvarez finally managed to push Bivol against the ropes for a sustained period and put combinations together.
Bivol took back control in the 10th, holding Canelo at his pace again and controlling the exchanges. He landed cleanly again in the 11th, using his pinpoint accuracy to punish Alvarez when he opened up.
Alvarez continued to look sluggish and couldn’t mount much of a fight in the final round, though he still hopped on the ropes and celebrated with the crowd, many of whom — including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson — walked out before the scorecards were read.
It was Alvarez’s first loss since he dropped a decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The judges had it much closer than most onlookers, with all three scoring the first four rounds for Alvarez. Had Bivol not won the 12th round on all three scorecards, the fight would have been a draw.
Alvarez said he wasn’t making any excuses for his performance but thought he won the fight.
“I’m a very competitive person. I’ve got many years ahead of me,” he said. “And I’m going to come back stronger.”
The discussion after the fight quickly turned to the prospect of an immediate rematch. Alvarez had been expected to fight Golovkin to complete their trilogy, but this result could put a wrench in those plans.
Asked if he wanted a rematch, Alvarez was clear.
“Of course I do,” he said. “It doesn’t end like this.”