Canelo Alvarez, arguably the top pound for pound boxer of the day, takes to the ring on tonight in Las Vegas.
The Mexican ring general, holding a 57-1-2 record, will do his thing in the light heavyweight class, meeting Russian technician Dmitrii Bivol (19-0) at T-Mobile in Las Vegas. They top a card presented by Eddie Hearn/Matchroom and screening on DAZN.
Canelo—-and it’s high time we accept that the sporting king of all red-heads has met the qualifications to be referred to using only that lone tag—is enjoying a heady run of victories.
The athlete who turned pro at age 15 has lost just once, to Floyd Mayweather via decision in 2013. His resume is marred beyond that only by a draw incurred in his first clash against Gennadiy Golovkin in September 2017. That’s 16 loss-less outings since the Mayweather match for the fighting pride of Guadalajara…But we wonder, might Bivol be the man to stop the Canelo momentum train?
In his last six bouts, Canelo has competed as a middleweight once (vs Danny Jacobs), super middleweight four times (vs Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders, Caleb Plant) and at light heavyweight once, against Sergey Kovalev.
He looked quite comfortable at 175 in downing that Russian, Kovalev via KO11.
And the widespread assumption today among fans seems to be that Canelo will stay on track as an unbeatable pugilist. But of course, all good things come to an end.
Will the WBA 175 pound titlist Bivol, seen as a high-level technician, be the guy to mess with the momo? It’s a big ask…Along those lines, we asked the ProBox TV Big 4, Roy Jones Jr, Antonio Tarver, Juan Manuel Marquez and Paul Malignaggi, to assess the Canelo v Bivol face-off. (You might not know about ProBox…click here and familiarize yourself real quick with the network, and what is being brought to the table.)
“The more I study Bivol,” said Tarver, himself a light heavyweight champion on three occasions during his in-ring tenure, “the more convinced I am that on paper this is a very dangerous fight for Canelo because of the obvious…Bivol has a real size advantage in this fight. And the fact that Bivol might be a more formidable opponent than any of the Canelo foes in the other weight divisions below 175.
“He’s a volume puncher with an educated right hand that when it lands it usually causes some serious damage. Canelo is gonna have to get inside and stay inside of Bivol in order to get his patented body/head attack. If Canelo camps outside there’s a real chance we could see what most would believe to be a major upset.”
Roy Jones, the fighting pride of Pensacola, shared his thoughts on this light heavyweight battle. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Canelo came in a little bigger than him. I think Bivol is the better outside fighter, I think Canelo is the better inside fighter. So, if Canelo goes out and pushes the pace, I think Canelo will be in a more comfortable spot. If he lets Bivol bounce around and do what he does, Canelo’s gonna have a long night.”
He reiterated that part of his thesis on the bout. “Bivol’s a monster outside, you let him stay outside, you have a hard time beating him.” (NOTE: Check out this chop-it-up video, and listen to Roy talk about Canelo’s reasons for picking Bivol as a dance partner, over younger, harder-hitting options. Canelo fan boys and girls maybe won’t embrace Jones’ theory.)
The Mexi-legend Juan Manuel Marquez sees his fellow countryman getting the W, conclusively. “I think Canelo will win the fight, by knockout. Maybe nine rounds.”
Paul Malignaggi, the Italian-American analyst, and ex champ at 140 and 147, gave his three cents. “The trick for Canelo is he needs to shut down the enthusiasm of Bivol. Bivol keeps busy and has quick legs, he likes to dart in and out. What I've seen from Canelo of late is that he does indeed kill the enthusiasm of his opponent which causes them to either not get off as often or as confidently as they should. Or they wind up overthinking and misjudging their distances, as BJ Saunders was doing when throwing left crosses from too far out, which cost him when he got the big counter. (See below, it was a big and bad connection.)
“I believe,” Malignaggi continued, “Bivol will be a bit stronger mentally than Billy Joe Saunders or Caleb Plant. I think this is Canelo's toughest opponent since Golovkin. The question is can Bivol stop Canelo? If he doesn't, can he get a decision? We've seen Canelo hurt light heavyweights when he scored a one punch knockout of Kovalev.
“We saw Bivol hurt by Joe Smith but Smith is a natural light heavyweight and despite being hurt Bivol won that fight without controversy. Canelo isn't the busiest guy in there but he’s a terrific thinking fighter, he relies on bringing your output down to his level and then pouncing on you from there. He's a sharp counterpuncher, which is a weapon that many times diminishes the output of opponents due to causing them to question themselves about whether it’s safe to throw punches.
“All these are the things to look for in this fight in my opinion. Can Canelo's sharp power counterpunching cause Bivol to hesitate and diminish his enthusiasm and therefore his output? Or will Bivol's pace start to bother Canelo? Bivol has good power, can he hurt Canelo? We know Canelo's power but can he once again carry it up to the elite levels of the light heavyweight division? My instinct tells me that this is a very tough fight to call. Gun to my head I'm thinking Canelo wins a close decision that stirs up some controversy and debate on whether he'll have deserved the win.”