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Fight Picks: Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol

Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom
04
May

On Saturday, boxing’s biggest star Canelo Alvarez will jump up to light heavyweight once again to challenge WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Canelo boasts a cache of outstanding wins over Shane Mosley (UD 12), Austin Trout (UD 12), Erislandy Lara (SD 12), Miguel Cotto (UD 12), Gennadiy Golovkin (MD 12), Daniel Jacobs (UD 12), Sergey Kovalev (KO 11), Callum Smith (UD 12), Billy Joe Saunders (RTD 8) and Caleb Plant (TKO 11). The 31-year-old is a modern day great, having captured world titles at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight.

Bivol, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 175 pounds, was a standout amateur before turning professional in November 2014. The 31-year-old Kyrgyzstan-born technician claimed the WBA light heavyweight title in 2017 and has reeled off eight successful defenses. He holds wins over Sullivan Barrera (TKO 12), Isaac Chilemba (UD 12), Jean Pascal (UD 12) and Joe Smith Jr. (UD 12).

We’ve seen Canelo (57-1-2, 39 knockouts) deal with highly skilled boxers before, but can the naturally bigger Bivol create new problems? Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) appears confident and calm, but he’s never fought at this level. Will the occasion get to him? Bivol is a very good boxer, but he hasn’t scored a knockout in his previous six fights over a four-year period. Does he have the power to keep Mexico’s finest honest?



Online gambling group William Hill lists Canelo as an 1/5 (-500) favorite, while Bivol is priced at 7/2 (+350). The draw is 16/1 (+1600).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM

Canelo goes for the finish against Caleb Plant. Photo by Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

DOUG FISCHER: CANELO UD
“This is an excellent light heavyweight matchup. The undisputed super middleweight champ (and P4P King) is stepping up once more to the 175-pound division to challenge a world titleholder who is no worse than the second best light heavy (behind Artur Beterbiev). Canelo’s got the edge in experience (as he does over every fighter his age or younger) with 60 pro bouts under his belt and 11 years at the world-title level. However, Bivol brings an extensive amateur background to the dance, as well the quality experience he gained during a four-bout stretch between March 2018 and March 2019 when he went a combined 48 rounds with Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, former champ Jean Pascal and future beltholder Joe Smith Jr. Bivol possesses a hard, educated jab and right hand, a sneaky left hook, excellent balance and coordination, as well as the edge in size and athleticism. He could use these tools to try to stick and move on Canelo, but I don’t think the Mexican star will have to hunt Bivol down as he did Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders. Bivol is more settled than those two, and he prefers to carefully stalk forward, which Canelo will welcome being the more accurate power puncher. Bivol’s jab will give Canelo some problems but it will also provide counter-punching opportunities. I think Canelo will use upper-body movement and feints to set up/get in range to land his right hand and then follow up with heavy hooks to the body. It should be high-level tit-for-tat during the first half of the fight, but I expect Canelo’s body attack to wear Bivol down over the second half and have the bigger man on the move down the stretch. I also expect Canelo to either hurt Bivol or score a knockdown in the late rounds to seal the deal on the official scorecards, which may have this kind of variety: 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.”

TOM GRAY: CANELO UD
“This looks like a tricky fight for Canelo. Unlike Kovalev, the 31-year-old Bivol is still in his prime and he doesn’t have the detriment of a rehydration clause. And unlike Caleb Plant, the Russian technician has an adequate amount of championship experience. Bivol’s height is unlikely to be a factor because we saw Canelo neutralize Callum Smith’s superior dimensions with ease. But my main fear for Bivol is his offense seems pretty basic, and I think Canelo reads the basics better than any fighter in the world. I foresee a competitive fight early, with the Mexican star solving the style after four or five rounds. From there, Canelo will take command and win a decision, somewhere in the 116-112 range.”

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: CANELO TKO 11
“I’m intriguing by this fight. Bivol is a really good technician and that may pose early problems for Canelo. However, the Mexican is vastly experienced and he knows how to put pressure on in the right way and can cash in late in the fight. He did it with Sergey Kovalev in his lone fight at 175 pounds and I think he’ll do the same here. He’ll come on in the second half of the fight to claw back what may be an early deficit and score a late stoppage or a points win. My guess is Canelo in 11 rounds.”

LEE GROVES: CANELO UD
“Bivol will give Canelo his sternest challenge since the two Gennady Golovkin fights because he has a strong jab, excellent fundamentals, a willingness to pile up points without caring about pleasing a crowd, and enough discipline and focus to carry out a fight plan from start to finish. He is good enough to fully exploit his advantages in height and reach as well as take advantage of Canelo’s very deliberate starts. In short, I see Bivol as a VERY live underdog. That said, we don’t know the quality of his chin. We don’t know if he has enough power to earn Canelo’s respect. And what happens once Canelo finds his rhythm and begins to surge? Most importantly, will he get a fair shake from the judges in Las Vegas? Bivol might win the fight in the ring, but he might not win on the scorecards. For this reason — and because great usually beats very good — I’m picking Alvarez by highly competitive, and perhaps debatable, decision.”

MARTY MULCAHEY: CANELO UD
“It takes a special boxer to beat a legendary boxer at or near his prime (I believe Canelo has reached Hall of Fame status already), and I do not see that one great or outstanding tool in Dimitry Bivol’s arsenal to pull off an upset. He lacks the punching power to keep Saul Alvarez from walking him down, nor does he have the great feet to avoid and counter Alvarez for 12 rounds off the back foot. Bivol has success early, but in the end, he will wilt under the escalating onslaught as so many others have. I do think Bivol has the natural size, boxing acumen, and fortitude to last the distance. A minor victory in itself, but it ends with a unanimous decision victory for Canelo in the 117-111 range.”

MICHAEL MONTERO: CANELO UD
“I really like this fight; I feel it’s the toughest test for Canelo since his bouts with Golovkin a few years ago. Bivol has been calling out Canelo for years and now he’s got him. His recent performances have been flat, but he’s bringing his A-game on May 7 in Las Vegas. I do believe the Russian has enough skill to win some rounds and go the distance, but I just can’t bet against Mexico’s favorite red head right now. Gimme Canelo unanimous 12-round decision.”

NORM FRAUENHEIM: CANELO TKO 10
“Dmitry Bivol is praised for his technical proficiency. He knows the fundamentals. Knows his way around the ring. It all sounds very familiar. Same thing was said about Billy Joe Saunders, Danny Jacobs and Callum Smith. All solid fighters and all without a prayer against Canelo. It’s simple, really. Neither Saunders nor Jacobs nor Smith could hurt Canelo. They didn’t have enough power to land an early warning shot. Neither does Bivol, who hasn’t scored a stoppage in four years. Without it, Canelo will mount and then sustain another punishing assault – punches landing from body-to-head-hips-and-elbows – for another one-sided victory.”

DIEGO MORILLA: CANELO TKO 10
“As good as he is and as technically proficient as he may be, it’s difficult to envision Bivol as a threat to a much faster and technically gifted fighter like Canelo, who seems to be in his absolute prime and will be fighting in the same weight in which he demolished former pound-for-pound entrant Sergey Kovalev. Canelo’s confidence is at its peak as well, and his desire and pride should easily do the rest. A much easier night for Canelo than what most people think – and that says a lot.”

BOXING INSIDERS

Bivol tags Craig Richards. Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): CANELO TKO 10
“Looking for chinks in the armor of Canelo is like looking for a needle in a haystack. He is arguably the pound-for-pound number one and he will win another world title. I don’t think Bivol has what it takes to stop the Canelo show. For me, Canelo wins impressively inside the distance, 10 rounds should do it.”

STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): CANELO PTS
“I picture Bivol building an early-rounds lead and Canelo rallying late with constant pressure. Bivol’s footwork should enable him to keep the distance he wants. This is a very real threat to Canelo’s standing. I favor Canelo by close decision.”

RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): CANELO UD
“Bivol is strong, has speed and is really good at controlling range with his jab. He needs to keep Canelo at the end of his punches. Canelo needs to close the distance, make that ring small and just be Canelo. I’m going with Canelo in a hard-fought unanimous decision.”

KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): DRAW
“I am going to pick a draw. My reasoning is that I believe that Bivol is disciplined enough and talented enough to take advantage of the very few weaknesses in Canelo’s game that Sergey Kovalev exposed in the early rounds of their fight. Going into the 11th round, one of the judges had the Canelo-Kovalev fight even and the other two had Canelo up by only two points. Sergey did a lot better in the early going than many people remember but slowed down considerably during the second half of the fight. Bivol may be just as good a boxer as Sergey, younger and doesn’t have to kill himself to make weight. He is patient and tactical. And I think that he is so strong, mentally, that he will not wilt under the big lights. It is obvious that Canelo is a truly great fighter. He continues to challenge himself, which is one of the things that I really love about him. When and if the day comes for him to lose a fight, it will not be against one of his contemporaries. It will be against a bigger and younger boxer/puncher with exceptional ring intelligence. I believe that is a pretty good description of Bivol, who has everything he needs to give Canelo fits. I am picking a draw because the huge partisan crowd in Vegas for Cinco de Mayo tends to influence the judging at least to some extent. Therefore, I am not sure that it is possible for Canelo to lose a decision in Las Vegas against anyone. And Bivol is a boxer, not a banger. If it goes to a decision, then Canelo always has an edge. I expect that Bivol will fight his heart out and best Canelo in the final analysis. But I fear that a draw may be the best that Bivol can expect to receive under the circumstances.”

JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): CANELO UD
“I think that Canelo is going to be too fast for Bivol and will slow Bivol down as the fight goes on. Bivol is going to win the first few rounds while Canelo figures him out. Canelo by unanimous decision.”

ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): CANELO PTS
“Canelo Alvarez is slipping. I’m not saying that for attention. We’ve seen his best – and his best puts him among the top of the greatest middleweights who ever lived – but he is no longer that fighter. He is still a great fighter and he does everything better than Bivol. People mention Bivol’s size advantage, but they forget that he’s more super-middle than light-heavy. Bivol is pure quality and Canelo will have to produce a great performance to win. And he’s shown throughout his career he does just that when he needs to. Canelo by decision in a fight where he’ll need to pull away in the late rounds.”

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): CANELO UD
“Very good fight with a high-level of skill. Risky but that is the Canelo way; taking on all challenges and ducking no one. I believe we will see the very best version of Bivol as this is a fight he has dreamed of. However, the better the opponent the better Canelo. Even at this level and after so many years at the top, Canelo shows something new in every fight and continues to improve. Bivol will try to establish the jab and use his distance and Canelo will stalk the bigger man. In a very good fight that leaves the fans standing and wanting more. Canelo wins a competitive unanimous decision.”

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): CANELO UD
“Bivol will have size on Canelo. He’s got a good jab, knows his way around the ring and can execute against the rest of the light heavyweights, but Canelo is a different breed. After a couple of rounds, Canelo will time Bivol’s straight punches and will execute with over-hand punches. He’ll slip and go to the body. I don’t think that Bivol has the power to discourage Canelo or cause damage. The only way it’s competitive is if Bivol all of a sudden has learned to throw inside punches (uppercuts). I just don’t see him doing so. In a tactical/ chess match, Canelo wins a unanimous decision leaving no doubt who’s the better of the two.”

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): CANELO TKO 9
“Let’s say that for obvious reasons it’s a fight that interests me a lot. I see Bivol giving problems to Canelo at the beginning of the fight and even winning a few rounds. But sooner or later, Canelo’s pressure will be too much for Bivol. Canelo TKO 9.”

ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): CANELO PTS
“Bivol has the technique and work rate to make this a close, competitive fight. Canelo’s pace could suit and allow Bivol into an extended rhythm but the Russian boxes by numbers; he’s somewhat formulaic, as textbook as he is. Canelo will suss that out soon enough. I came away from Bivol’s fight with Craig Richards struck by how he let Richards get comfortable despite the supposed gulf in class. That’s a worry against a class act like Canelo who will suffocate Bivol like never before. It could be tight and technical or Bivol might be swamped in the later rounds. Canelo on points for me.”

JOHN SCULLY (TRAINER): CANELO PTS
“I think in most areas this is probably going to be one of the top three if not the toughest fight of Canelo’s career. I might even be inclined to pick against him, but it doesn’t seem like this is the time for him to get beat yet. I’ve got to go with Canelo by very competitive decision.”

KALLE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER): CANELO TKO
“I think that Canelo will win convincingly and stop his man between rounds 6-8. I just think Canelo has come on so strong and there is no one around that weight that can hold with him. I think Bivol is an excellent technical fighter but I think Canelo will get to him and it won’t go into the later rounds.”

Final Tally: Canelo 19-0-1

YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

DMITRY BIVOL: I HAVE BEATEN EVERYBODY THAT I’VE FOUGHT, I BELIEVE I CAN BEAT CANELO 

 

Canelo vs. Bivol, plus undercard action, will be broadcast on DAZN Pay-Per-View (in the U.S. and Canada). The show is also available via PPV.COM.

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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