By: Sean Cross
“It may not go down as a great light heavyweight fight,” I wrote after the fight. This was no Spink-Kawi or Greb-Tunny. But it was a fight that sent the world screaming in boxing. Sure enough, Dimitri Bivol defeated the great Canelo Alvarez for the WBA Light Heavyweight Title. “Of course things weren’t meant to be done this way,” I continued. “Canlo is expected to win a challenging but manageable fight before he faces his archrival Gennady Golovkin in the fall. Expectations die in the box. The whole sport can be a graveyard.
While Canelo dominated Golovkin in their third fight in September, the spring defeat still reverberates at the start of 2023. With questionable decision wins over Erislandi Lara and Golovkin respectively, the red-haired star looked to be at his absolute best before heading to the ring to return the bell against Bivol last May in Las Vegas. He had previously foiled Caleb’s plan and before that Billy Joe Saurons. A good fight will come Canelo’s way, and that fight will fall. However, this was not the case with Bivol.
While it’s true that Bivol was naturally the bigger man going into the fight, it’s also true that the 19-0 Russian had a simple but brilliant plan to face the powerful Canelo. For starters, Bivol kept Kanlo out of range, allowing him to use an effective jab. Bivol also threw annoying combinations, which at times made Canelo look hurt (something the fans never saw). Equally so is Canelo’s inability to break down the man as he generally does against opponents. In the end, Bivol was too big, too strong, too sharp, and too well-planned to let the legendary Canelo get the better of him.
57-1-2 Canelo was known to be the judges’ favorite, but he couldn’t convince the judges that evening that he had lost to Bivol, or even a draw. The defending champion left the ring that night with the WBA title in his hands. And Canelo? Well, it’s hard to blame someone for failing at a great mission to which they’ve clearly given their all. Other fighters should be like him.