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Dmitry Bivol defangs, dethrones Canelo Alvarez to win decision

Written By | May 8, 2022
Dmitry Bivol took control, outlanding and thoroughly defeating Canelo Alvarez for a upset win Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Photo: Melina Pizano, Matchroom.

Dmitry Bivol took control, outlanding and thoroughly defeating Canelo Alvarez for a upset win Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Photo: Melina Pizano, Matchroom.

LAS Vegas, Nevada, May 7, 2022 – With all the music, lights, and fireworks Matchroom Boxing could muster, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of San Diego and Mexico enjoyed a ring entry worth of a champion.

After a full-throated introduction from ring announcer David Diamante, it was hard to remember Alvarez was the challenger in this contest Saturday for WBA World Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol’s title. Bivol, of St. Petersburg, Russia, got no such fanfare. No anthem and Indio, California, substituted for his hometown.

Dmitry Bivol celebrates his win over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez after their WBA light heavyweight championship bout in Las Vegas. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom.

Alvarez has always taken chances. This time, the size, speed, combination punches, and ring management proved beyond the grasp of the pound-for-pound best. Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) took Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) to the final bell, winning a unanimous decision by cards of 115-113 from all three judges.

“I’m glad I proved myself today. I’m the best,” said Bivol. After praising Alvarez and his team, Bivol said of his upset victory, “If you don’t believe in yourself, what do you do? You achieve nothing. If you believe in yourself, you achieve what you want.”

dmitry bivol

A dismayed Canelo” Alvarez after the news of his loss to Dmitry Bivol. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom.

Alvarez was initially gracious in defeat. “He is a great champion. You have to accept this in boxing. You win, and you lose.

“He’s a great fighter, he comes in, and he goes out. I also felt his power. It was a great victory for him.”  Asked if Bivol’s naturally bigger size made the difference, Alvarez said he felt his power, “but I make no excuses.”

Bivol: busier, bigger, believer

Dmitry Bivol used size, workrate, and ring generalship to win. Photo: Melina Pizano, Matchroom.

Dmitry Bivol used size, work rate, and ring generalship to win. Photo: Melina Pizano, Matchroom.

Bivol looked strong and more oversized than expected against Alvarez. Using the same approach so successful against taller opponent Callum Smith, Alvarez went to the arms of Bivol.  Later, Bivol showed the damage on his left arm and said Alvarez hurt him.

But it wasn’t enough to slow down the jab-forward attack of Bivol. Unlike recent fights where Bivol took heat for not following up his jabs with right-hand power shots, it was a completely different show of force on Saturday. Bivol was especially successful in pinning Alvarez to the ropes and firing away.

The CompuBox punch statistics for Canelo vs Bivol.

Inactivity, whether from fatigue or indecision, plagued the Mexican champion. According to CompuBox, Bivol outlanded Alvarez overall in all 12 rounds and landed more power punches in nine of the 12. In the other three, power-punching was even. Bivol landed 152 or 710 punches thrown (21%) against 84  of 495 for Alvarez (17%) Bivol’s combination punching was textbook pretty.

Alvarez is always dangerous. Bivol knew the body shots and uppercuts would come his way, and they did. Where Alvarez won rounds, it was his ability to draw the judges’ eyes with power punches negating the busier Bivol. Bivol took those shots, and they never seriously hurt him or moved him off his game plan.

Dmitry Bivol

Canelo Alvarez had success when he landed shots inside on Dmitry Bivol, but there weren’t enough of them. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom.

Through the first six rounds, Communities Digital News scored the fight even. In the second half, either Alvarez ran out of steam, ran out of ideas, or perhaps believed he was doing enough to win. He lacked the sense of urgency so often seen in the later rounds of his fights, where many of them have been won.

Not this time. Bivol got better and more accurate as the rounds rolled on. The partisan Mexican crowd in Las Vegas felt a sense of dread as they saw what was happening. By round 11, FightHub’s Marcos Villegas and I had the same score – eight rounds to four in favor of Bivol.

Dmitry Bivol

Dmitry Bivol said he felt the power of Canelo Alvarez, but he had prepared well for it. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom.

“I felt his power. You can see my arm. He beat my arm up, but not my head. It’s better,” laughed Bivol. “He gets good speed, good power. Maybe his mistake, he throw only a few punches. Then he relaxed.” Bivol said he heard the crowd all cheering for Alvarez, and he thanked them for giving him motivation to win.

Bivol said his wife and mother in Russia “never watch my fights,” but he called to tell them about the victory. “This is for everyone from a small town who ever wanted to achieve their dreams.”

Alvarez: ‘I won the fight’

During the post-fight press conference at the T-Mobile Arena, Trainer Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez insisted that he won on Saturday. Photo: Melina Pizano, Matchroom.

Speaking with media after the fight, Alvarez and trainer Eddy Reynoso insisted they won, and Bivol won four or five rounds at most. “Sometimes judges score things they shouldn’t,” said Alvarez. “He was throwing shots, but I was rolling punches.” Asked what he might do differently in a rematch, Alvarez said, “Be more aggressive.”

Alvarez admitted going up in weight against a young, strong light heavyweight may have taken its toll.

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn dismissed criticism of Alvarez. “You can’t stand here now and say a bridge too far. Yesterday he was a huge favorite. Let’s not take away from the brilliance of DB. He was absolutely punch perfect. Saul wants to handicap himself and take the greatest challenges, and that sometimes can backfire. I knew how good Dmitry Bivol was, but we expected Saul to win.”

Rematch far from certain

A rematch with Dmitry Bivol is far from certain and comes with conditions. Photo: Ed Mulholland, Matchroom.

There is an existing rematch clause, but CaneloBivol2 is far from assured. In the ring, both men said they’d agree to a rematch. After the fight, Bivol placed more conditions on the rematch. “I took this fight for the opportunity. Next time, I want to be treated like the champion … He had all the fireworks. His name was first. He walked to the ring last. It’s OK,” said Bivol. A rematch will require more respect and more compensation.

“My most comfortable weight is 168. So, we’ll see if we want to take the rematch. We’ll let you know,” said Alvarez. It’s worth pointing out Alvarez remains the undisputed super middleweight champion, the first in the division.

The biggest loser tonight was miles away. Gennadiy Golovkin’s rematch with Alvarez could be in doubt or be delayed until the 40-year-old middleweight champion ages out and must move on in the meantime. He’d lose a big payday, but the situation may force Golovkin, Hearn, and Matchroom Boxing to turn to a middleweight unification effort with Jermall Charlo and Demetrius Andrade.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow Gayle on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2022 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.