By Mark Eisner: WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) took Canelo Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) to school on Saturday night, winning a 12 round unanimous decision at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The scores were 115-113, 115-113, and 115-113. It appeared that Bivol won 10 rounds to 2, but Canelo is the A-side; it’s understandable the judges had it close.
Bivol was too skilled, too mobile, and too superior in the cardio department. Canelo was completely gassed out from the fifth round on, looking red in the face and not throwing with the same power that we’d seen from him at super middleweight.
Ultimately, it’s up to Canelo if he wants a rematch with Bivol. There’s a rematch clause in the contract, but it’s Canelo’s call. Given how one-sided the fight was, it would be a good idea for Canelo to move on rather than take the risk of losing to Bivol again.
Light welterweight contender Montana Love (18-0-1, 9 KOs) eeked out a narrow 12-round unanimous decision over Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela (25-3-1, 15 KOs) in the chief support bout. Love, 27, was given credit for a knockdown in the first after Valenzuela slipped on the canvas. In the second round, Valenzuela returned the favor, knocking the 27-year-old Love down. Over the next ten rounds, the two fighters fought largely to a standstill, with Valenzuela getting the better of the action. In the 12th round, Love was hurt in the last 30 seconds. The scores were 114-112, 114-112, and 114-112.
2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakhram Giyasov (13-0, 9 KOs) put in a dominant performance in knocking down the heavy-handed Christian Gomez (22-3-1, 20 KOs) en route to winning a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision in welterweight action. The technically superior 28-year-old Giyasov dropped Gomez in rounds four, seven, and ten. The scores were 99-88, 98-89, and 99-89. The difference in pedigree between the two fighters was large enough to drive a truck through it. Gomez didn’t belong inside the same ring with Giyasov, and the only thing that kept him around for the full ten was his power and recovery ability.
Unbeaten lightweight Marc Castro (7-0, 5 KOs) easily outboxed Pedro Vincente (7-5-1, 2 KOs), winning a one-sided six-round unanimous decision. The scores were 60-54, 60-54, and 60-54. The 22-year-old Castro landed shots at will against the much slower Vincente throughout the contest, but he wasn’t able to hurt him due to his lack of power. Castro has great boxing skills, but he just needs to add more in the power department to help him compete against the top lightweights in the future.
Two-time heavyweight Olympian Zhilei Zhang (24-0-1, 19 KOs) made easy work of replacement opponent Scott Alexander (16-5-2, 8 KOs), stopping him in the first round. The big 6’6, 276-lb Zhang nailed Alexander with a huge left hand to the head that flattened him. The fight was then immediately halted, as Alexander was too hurt to get back to his feet. The time of the stoppage was at 1:54 of the first round. Zhang was originally supposed to be fighting Filip Hrgovic in an IBF title eliminator, but he pulled out.
Flyweight contender Joselito Velasquez (15-0-1, 10 KOs) defeated Marcos Sustaita (13-5-1, 11 KOs) by a sixth-round knockout. In the sixth, #6 IBF, #12 WBO Velasquez hurt Sustaita and then dropped him moments later. After the badly hurt Sustaita got back to his feet, the referee took a look at him and chose to halt the contest. The time of the stoppage was at 1:06 of the round.
Unbeaten super-middleweight Aaron Silva (10-0, 7 KOs) dominated previously unbeaten Alexis Espino (8-1, 5 KOs), scoring a fourth-round knockout. In the fourth round, Silva hurt Espino and then opened up with a storm of shots that resulted in the bout being stopped by referee Celestino Ruiz at 1:17 of the round.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Elnur Abduraimov (9-0, 8 KO’s) destroyed Manuel Correa (11-1, 8 KO’s) by a second-round knockout. The 27-year-old southpaw Abduraimov, who comes from Uzbekistan, knocked the hard-hitting Cuban Correa three times before the contest was halted by referee Robert Hoyle. The time of the stoppage was at 2:43 of round two.
Unbeaten light-welterweight Fernando Angel Molina (8-0, 3 KOs) edged Ricardo Valdovinos (8-2, 5 KOs) by a six-round split decision. Molina jumped out to an early lead but then, gassed out in the last two rounds, was knocked down in the sixth. The scores were 58-56, 57-56 for Molina, and 57-56 for Valdovinos.
“A lot of people are sleeping on Bivol’s talent and what he’s done. I think Dmitry is going to bring a lot of challenges for Canelo, but at the same time, Canelo is the pound-for-pound #1 star in the sport right now,” said Frank Smith of Matchroom to Boxing Social about tonight’s fight between Bivol and Canelo.
“They’ve both got a lot of strengths. Dmitry needed this fight to get up. People that watched his last few fights, maybe they didn’t have the same buzz for him going into those fights,” Smith continued about Bivol.
“This is what he’s been waiting a long time for. I’d been talking to his manager Vadim and his team to make this fight and try and get it over the line. I’m glad we got it done because it’s a great fight.
“People are going to be shocked about the quality because a lot of people are writing Bivol off. Maybe because they don’t know enough about him. The joke is that Eddie [Hearn] is team Canelo, and I’m team Bivol.
“Bivol isn’t a big light heavyweight. Maybe it’s a bit late now, but maybe a year or two ago, he could have gone down to 168. I think the perspective was that Canelo, he wanted to go up.
“He’ll go in there with Dmitry Bivol at 175, and Bivol will put on any weight that he wants to put on because he wants the respect that he went in there and did it.
“Will there be a huge size difference? Canelo is a beast, and he’s a lump. Although not huge, he’s a lump. Bivol is looking quite slender from seeing him this week. I’ll be interesting to see Canelo,” said Smith.
Canelo believes he can do it
“We’ve seen him go up to 174 against Sergey Kovalev, and we saw what he did with him,” said Smith about Canelo. “He’ll be believing he can do the same thing again.
“It was great to deliver this opportunity to Dmitry Bivol because it’s a fight that we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Smith to Pro Boxing Fans.
“Bivol has wanted this fight for a long time. He’s never shied away from a challenge and wanted this opportunity. I think it’s a real tough fight. I think a lot of people are sleeping on Dmitry Bivol, mainly because they don’t know enough about him and what he’s done in the sport.
“He’s been waiting a long time for a fight of this magnitude and this size, and this is the type of thing that he needed to get up for it, really. I think he’s [Bivol] going to give him [Canelo] a really tough test, but we’ve seen how Canelo always finds a way [to win], doesn’t he?
“He’s great to watch, and he’s pound-for-pound #1 against Dmitry Bivol, the #1 175-pounder in the world. It’s been talked about [Canelo fighting Gennadiy Golovkin in September], but we’re fully focused on Saturday night because it’s a real tough test for Saul.
“A lot of people have been speaking about the Golovkin fight, and I’m sure if he gets through Saturday night, that’ll be the fight that we’re looking at.
“No, I think people in boxing know what Bivol brings,” said Frank when asked if it would be a major shock if Bivol defeats Canelo. “You know the talent Bivol has, and a lot of people here know the talent Bivol has.
“He’s the reigning champion at 175. He’s held onto his [WBA 175-lb] belt for four or five years, maybe? It would be a shock in terms of commercially. For a lot of fans tuning in, Canelo is the biggest star out there.
“He draws huge numbers. They won’t be expecting Canelo to lose this fight, but in terms of the hardcore boxing audience, I don’t think it would be a huge shock. He’s not the favorite, but I think he can give a good challenge,” said Smith about Bivol.
“He’s focused on his legacy. If he goes in here and becomes the light heavyweight champion, then I’m sure he’ll be looking to become undisputed at 175. Does he go up to 200 after that? He’s spoken about fighting Makabu. Then does he want to become undisputed up there? Then does he want to fight Usyk?
“He wants to take the biggest challenges. With him, it’s not just about money. If it was just about money, you could fight massive names that you steamroll time and time again. He wants to be remembered as a superstar and a legend that went in there and did what many others couldn’t,” said Frank about Canelo.
Canelo Alvarez will be chasing greatness tonight in his important battle against unbeaten WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol on DAZN PPV.
Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs) is taking the preliminary step that could lead to him becoming the undisputed champion at 175, but he’s got a tough fight on his hands against the undefeated Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs.