- Dmitry Bivol upset boxing’s pound-for-pound king Saul Alvarez at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
- Canelo never led in the fight and was out-thought, out-boxed, and defeated Saturday.
- Bivol pooped all over the Canelo party.
It all went down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo on a stage that was set for Canelo to shine but, on fight night Saturday it was the unbeaten Bivol who retained his WBA light heavyweight world title with a deserved win.
Canelo was never ahead in the fight. Bivol took an early lead on the scorecards, bewildered Alvarez with feints and triple jabs, before closing the show in style.
Burnt rubber, unlicensed vendors, and side moob
A Canelo fight week in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend is like no other.
There’s the smell of burnt rubber as a convoy of pickups revved their engines up the Strip with the national flags of Mexico flapping in the breeze from the truck beds.
Unlicensed vendors braved temperatures in excess of 95 Fahrenheit to sell bootleg “Canelo” merch for miles outside the T-Mobile Arena.
And hairy men cosplayed as luchador wrestlers wearing nothing but colorful masks and ill-fitting lycra that exposed just the right amount of side moob.
For an entire week, the city of sin transformed into a relatively wholesome hub for boxing organizers to showcase Saul Alvarez as a father who brings his young daughter onto the stage with him, as a brand because Hennessy — Canelo’s sponsor — held pre-parties and afterparties throughout the week, and, obviously, as a fighter, too. A fighter who wins, in style, regardless of which weight class he’s campaigning in.
Except, Saturday, he lost.
A 175-pound title tilt against Bivol was one step too far as Canelo got bamboozled by a boxer at the top of his game, in a weight class he was far more comfortable in than Alvarez.
The party started around 9 p.m. Saturday
Bivol was resoundingly booed whenever jumbotron video cut to his entrance in the arena or showed footage of him warming up.
But that was nothing compared to the noise Canelo’s partisan fans generated when he made his way to the ring as chants of “Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!” preceded a cacophony of jeers when the Russian athlete made a brisk walk to the ring.
A rumbling bassline accompanied Canelo’s walk from backstage through the halls of the arena. An alarm was raised and then the bassline returned only to get increasingly louder like a merciless barrage of brutal blows that can reach inside your soul and shake your bones from within — fitting for a man from Guadalajara who puts his opponents into ambulances because they’re as broken as they are beaten.
The national flag of Mexico got hoisted aloft in the arena as a platform raised the pound-for-pound king at the entrance.
There were pyrotechnics, fireworks, and chants of “Canelo! Canelo! Canelo!”
—DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 8, 2022
Despite the grand arrival, there was one man already in the ring, Bivol, who was ready to poop all over this party.
The stage was set for a Canelo win but Bivol had other plans
An opening bell and triple jabs from Bivol reminded Canelo he was in with a boxer and not walking into a gathering in his honor. There was no time for celebrating. He was in a fight from the opening bell.
Midway through the round and Bivol triple jabbed again. Canelo swung hooks at both the head and body but while the intention was there, most of them missed.
Bivol had speed. He put punches into bunches in an astute manner as he varied his output from the body to the head. Canelo wanted to sap that pace by throwing knuckles into Bivol’s gut. He finished the round by landing an uppercut to the face.
Canelo’s uppercut returned in the second, as did a bruising hook to the cheek. Bivol, jab-happy, threw all kinds of variations to the leading shot. Sometimes as a pawing punch, other times more forceful, and then multiple ones in quick succession. Bang, bang, bang.
Canelo tried to power his way back into the fight in the second quarter with uppercuts and hooks but his action was mostly limited to singular power punches. Bivol, in comparison, would throw six shots in a row before Canelo eventually returned fire with another thudding blow.
Bivol’s ability to throw point-scoring flurries became an ongoing story in this fight. Canelo, seemingly out of ideas, showboated in response by gesturing Bivol to keep on throwing.
—DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) May 8, 2022
Bivol’s feints were confusing the challenger and, if the champion had more power, Canelo’s night could have gotten off to a far worse start than it already had.
Bivol out-thought, outboxed, and defeated Canelo
Canelo was never ahead in this fight.
After a heroic fifth round from Bivol, Canelo began to switch strategies slightly in the sixth by becoming less reliant on solitary power shots and integrating combinations of blows into his arsenal instead. One-twos and three-shot combos were in the mix but Bivol finished the round strong as his rapid-fire fists put Canelo against the ropes.
Canelo rallied his crowd at the start of the ninth with solid boxing but Bivol responded by taking Canelo’s uppercut away with expert forearm placement to defend the shot.
Through his relentless jabbing, methodical fighting, and ability to keep his opponent’s powerful attack at bay, Bivol once again proved in yet another round that he had the blueprint to give boxing’s No.1 fighter all kinds of hell.
This was never Canelo’s fight. And it’s all because his desire to earn the legacy he and his promoter Eddie Hearn craved, came unstuck when they ran into Bivol — a strong WBA light heavyweight world champion who showed the combat sports world that Alvarez can be out-thought, out-boxed, and defeated.
Canelo has rarely been pressured like he was Saturday.
Canelo finished the fight landing a career-low of 84 punches. His previous low was the 117 he landed in a defeat to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Bivol, in contrast, threw an average of 59 shots per round, landing 13, to tally 152 shots landed by the end of the bout.
Bivol won a unanimous decision with a hat-trick of 115-113 scores but, really, they could — and should — have been wider.
Regardless, the right man won.
“He’s a great champion, I respect him,” Bivol said in his post-fight speech. “I feel his power. He beat my arm up. But not my head, it’s better.
“Maybe his mistake was he threw only five punches. After only five punches he’s relaxed and tired.”
Canelo was magnanimous in defeat. “Sometimes in boxing, you win or you lose,” he said. “I have no excuses — I lost. He won.”
On whether he’ll activate a rematch clause and fight Bivol once again, he added: “It doesn’t end like this.”
Said Bivol: “No problem.”
Judging by the first fight, though, Canelo has it all to do if he is to avenge Saturday’s defeat.