Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Canelo-Bivol, Beterbiev, GGG, bad judges)
A STAR IS BORN
You lined it: A new star is rising. Bivol boxed beautifully, was not intimidated at all and kept going forward smartly. I had it 118:110. Rounds 1-4 all for Canelo? So they started to fool with a boxer’s heart again.
What was really impressive: The interview. Cool with a great sense of humor.
I don’t think Canelo can win against a world-class LHW. So he should go for GGG? Has your take on this one changed through last night?
How do you see Beterbiev vs. Bivol? If it goes the rounds I see only Bivol. But can he avoid Beterbiev’s power for 12 rounds?
Looking forward to reading your insights. – Matthias from Germany
I thought Beterbiev-Bivol was a toss-up fight before Bivol’s master class against Canelo, now I slightly favor the WBA titleholder to win on points. I think he can avoid Beterbiev’s power for 12 rounds, but I wouldn’t bet the house on that opinion. Thirty-six minutes is a LONG time to share the ring with a brute-strong technical punisher like Beterbeiv.
You lined it: A new star is rising. Bivol boxed beautifully, was not intimidated at all and kept going forward smartly. If that wasn’t a star-making performance, such a thing no longer exists. Bivol brilliantly seized the moment. He didn’t let anything – Canelo’s reputation (or arm attack), the B-side promotional bulls__t, the crowd – get to him. He knew when to let his hands go and when to step up his aggression. I think Bivol would have stopped any other super middleweight with what he put on Canelo.
I had it 118:110. That’s how I had it, too. So did everyone sitting around me on press row. It wasn’t a hard fight to score for any honest observer.
Rounds 1-4 all for Canelo? So they started to fool with a boxer’s heart again. Yep, the usual suspects – this time Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld – were at it again on May 7, giving the superstar a four-round head start that he had not earned. It’s so stupid. If they’d managed to score that fight a draw the controversy would have rivaled the dubious draw of the first Canelo-GGG fight. It would have been on par with the awful Whitaker-Chavez and Lewis-Holyfield I “draws.” Had those judges scored the fight for Canelo they would have turned his own fan base against him and taken a massive dump on the sport. As it is, I think they need to be taken to task by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
What was really impressive: The interview. Cool with a great sense of humor. Bivol is a good dude. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him workout and interview him on occasion since he’s trained in Southern California for years. He’s always been an affable, easy going guy. That personality served him well in this fight because he just viewed it as another day at the office. He didn’t get caught up in the magnitude of the event.
I don’t think Canelo can win against a world-class LHW. I don’t think he belongs at 175 pounds, but I think there are more than a few legit light heavyweight contenders that he can not only beat, but dominate and knockout. Bivol, obviously, is not a light heavyweight that Canelo can bully; and neither is Beterbiev. But those two Russians are elite-level titleholders.
So he should go for GGG? I think so. Is there a bigger fight out there for him? I’d love to see him fight Jermall Charlo or David Benavidez but the history and rivalry is with Golovkin.
Has your take on this one changed through last night? A little bit. I thought GGG could give Canelo a good fight even before Canelo lost. Now, I think the momentum is with Golovkin and I give him a little more of a shot of defeating his nemesis.
WE HAD BEEN WARNED
Hi there Dougie – first, please wish your wife and Mom a Happy Mother’s Day!
I have observed you on Twitter the last couple of months saying that “Canelo’s got his hands full with Bivol…” and I believe you had thought Canelo would do enough to earn a decision. And while Bivol won, I have great respect for Canelo, who took on a true challenge the way fighters used to before this boxing promoter politics took over.
With the benefit of hindsight, what were the biggest surprises for you post-fight? My three were how composed and focused Bivol was, he had a gameplan and he executed it…to the frustration of Canelo. The second was how well Bivol moved to utilize his jab and staying in the center of the ring. And the third was how much Bivol’s punching power bothered Canelo…first time since GGG fights that I have seen Canelo respecting someone’s power.
Second question is if you were training Canelo for the rematch, what would you focus on? Would you advise Canelo to come in at 168 so he can move more fluidly or to better acclimate to the 175 lbs. limit? Based upon the first fight, I am wondering if at the end of the day, this is a legit light heavyweight with great skills and high boxing IQ, beating a legit super middleweight with great skills and high boxing IQ.
Final comment about the judging and I’d love your thoughts on this too. In my humble opinion, to say Canelo split the first four rounds last night is generous scoring for Canelo. That all (3) judges scored the first four rounds for Canelo is WTF Adalaide Byrd 118-110 GGG/Canelo 1 awful scoring. You have called me out at times for being a Canelo hater as I still bristle at the scoring in both GGG fights he had. I have come around to really respecting Canelo’s skills and the way he has taken on these challenges. Before this fight, I had him #1 or #1A as P4P with Crawford. But I do get frustrated when these judges continue to put their thumb on the scale for Canelo. If Bivol had not won the 12th, the fight would have been scored a draw! I get that Canelo is the face of boxing and a huge commercial draw…I wonder if people would have more respect for him if some of these fights were scored correctly. Do you believe it is a cop-out to say “well at least the judges got the decision right?”
Keep tweeting, keep posting and keep up the great work Dougie! Best. – David
Thanks for the encouragement, David (and, yes, I wished both my wife and mom a Happy Mother’s Day yesterday).
It’s a good thing that the right boxer won the fight but it is a cop-out to let the official judges off the hook for their unanimous scores of 115-113 because those tallies are clear evidence that they were bending over backwards for Canelo, who was not effective throughout the fight. You can’t justify scoring five rounds for Canelo, but all three judges – Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld – should be made to do that by the executive director of the NSAC. That’s a meeting that needs to be happening TODAY!
Biased myopic judges like those three veterans will ruin boxing. They will eventually turn away even the most dedicated fans if they are allowed to proceed with their “business as usual.” So, they need to be called out and taken to task even though the right man won.
All the judges that have bent over backwards for Canelo – from Stanley Christodoulou (118-109 for the Trout fight) to CJ Ross (114-114 for Mayweather) to Levi Martinez (117-111 for Lara) to Byrd to the three blind mice on May 7 – have done him a disservice. They have turned fans against him. There’s no doubt in my mind that if they had done their jobs like unbiased professionals that Canelo would be an even bigger star than he is today. Dare I say, he’d be beloved.
I have observed you on Twitter the last couple of months saying that “Canelo’s got his hands full with Bivol…” and I believe you had thought Canelo would do enough to earn a decision. Yes, and yes. I thought Bivol was a tough matchup for Canelo, but I thought the Mexican star would pull through (legitimately). Bivol hasn’t looked “special” in recent fights, but he saved his best performance for when it counted most – vs. the reigning P4P King. Bivol did what I expected him to do over the first half of the fight, but I expected Canelo to surge over the second half. Instead, it was Bivol who stepped it up.
And while Bivol won, I have great respect for Canelo, who took on a true challenge the way fighters used to before this boxing promoter politics took over. Yes indeed. Anyone who viewed Bivol as a “cherry pick” is a moron. Anyone who fails to give Canelo, a 5-foot-8 former junior middleweight champ, any props for challenging such a talented light heavyweight world titleholder is just a sorry ass #salty sucker.
With the benefit of hindsight, what were the biggest surprises for you post-fight? I was surprised by Canelo’s lack of defense. His head- and upper-body movement wasn’t there. He just walked in with a high guard and tried to block all those Bivol salvos with his gloves. That was disappointing. I also thought he would attack the body with more regularity. Instead, he focused too much on Bivol’s left arm.
My three were how composed and focused Bivol was, he had a gameplan and he executed it…to the frustration of Canelo. That did not surprise me at all.
The second was how well Bivol moved to utilize his jab and staying in the center of the ring. That did not surprise me at all. I knew he wouldn’t run about the ring. He didn’t need to.
And the third was how much Bivol’s punching power bothered Canelo…first time since GGG fights that I have seen Canelo respecting someone’s power. That surprised me a little bit, as well as his ability to take a flush shot from Canelo.
Second question is if you were training Canelo for the rematch, what would you focus on? I’m no trainer but if I were advising him on how to approach a return bout, I’d want him to work on his defense and his punch output. I’d want to see him up his slip and counter game and get back to throwing more than one shot at a time. I’d want to see combination punching (with an emphasis on body punching).
Would you advise Canelo to come in at 168 so he can move more fluidly or to better acclimate to the 175 lbs. limit? Good question. I think lighter is better for him because it’s more natural, but then he might be giving up some physical strength and durability that he could need against a true light heavyweight.
Based upon the first fight, I am wondering if at the end of the day, this is a legit light heavyweight with great skills and high boxing IQ, beating a legit super middleweight with great skills and high boxing IQ. If you’re saying a good big man beats a good little man, yeah, I agree with that old boxing axiom.
BRING ON BIVOL-CANELO 2
I’m a Ring reader since the ’90s. A great magazine has only gotten better since you took the helm. Thank you.
Just wanted to throw my two cents in on the likely rematch between Bivol & Alvarez. I scored the fight 115-113 for Dmitry, same as the judges. While the ginger assassin has his work cut out for him, I think he has a better shot in the return match than most. My scores almost always line up with the official cards (especially in Vegas), and I was a close round away from a draw in this one. If Canelo can find it within himself to up his workrate in a couple more rounds, I could see him emerging on the right side of a close decision next time. Easier said than done, I know. Would be interesting to see what adjustments are made. Hope we get to see it. – Nick N., Murray, KY
Thank you for the kind words for The Ring Magazine, Nick. I respectfully disagree with your scorecard, but I’ve interacted with a few other fans who thought the fight was close (or even a draw) via Twitter on Saturday immediately after the fight and via my Instagram Live from SMC Track on Sunday, so you’re not alone.
And who knows? Maybe you’re right! Now that Canelo has shared 12 rounds with Bivol, maybe he can figure out the Russian’s style with another training camp. One thing is for certain: if he takes the rematch he will WAY be more focused and motivated than he was for the first fight. I got the feeling that Canelo was just going through the motions with this fight and promotion. That won’t be the case the second time around. He will be fighting for his pride and legacy. I don’t know if Canelo can pull it off, because Bivol proved to be the better man the first time around and for all we know he could also step his game up for the rematch, but I think that fire in Canelo’s belly will make for a more competitive and entertaining fight.
SAD CINCO DE MAYO
Hi Doug. It’s been a while.
I have always said that you need to be a class act. Always. That dignifies losses and enhances victories. Keeping your head cool at all times is the maximum symptom of elegance.
And how elegant Bivol was. I loved the dignity and self confidence he showed walking to the ring and absorbing the fact no Russian national anthem was played. Body language is one of my favorite factors to analyze a fight, and the Russian passed it with flying colors. From his ring walk to every single round, there was not a moment he showed himself intimidated.
In the first quarter of the fight I saw Canelo doing something I can’t remember seeing before: clinch as a defensive tool. That’s when I started worrying.
It was clear, from the beginning, that Canelo lost a couple of inches in power and and in movement. And boxing is, of course, a game of inches. The competitive edge in punching power and defense fluidity evident in his previous fights just evaporated in this one.
Canelo was demoralized by the fact that Bivol ate his best punches like a man and kept coming. He just couldn’t adjust to the fact that fear was no part of his rival’s mind set, and ironically, frustration got the best of him. I guess maybe the Mexican was way too used to hitting a homer at some point. However, I still don’t understand why he tried to win rounds by avoiding punches other than throwing them.
I have always hated machismo in fights or sports, as it usually means mental weakness. The cool, right guy won. When Bivol refused to accept Alvarez’s invitation to trade when the latter was against the ropes, I knew something was very right with the Russian. The champ stuck to his game plan for dear life and it paid. I – the leader of Canelo’s nuthuggers – was rooting for Bivol by the end of round 8.
There is no shame in daring to be great and fall short. Not at all. No shame in losing, neither. I wholeheartedly wish my man takes this as a lesson and goes back to the drawing board. A little hunger is going to do wonders for him.
As for Bivol, I feel absolutely glad for him. A deserved decision against the cash cow in Vegas is absolutely pure fresh air for the sport. His wins represents everything that is right about boxing.
But make no mistake. I feel absolutely devastated and shocked. I’ll leave boxing for a while and focus on depressing myself for a long period. – Carlos Navarro Sugich, from Hermosillo, Mexico
This is a beautifully written email, Carlos. It’s good to hear from you. Please to be bummed out for too long. Canelo will bounce back, even if he loses a rematch to Bivol. Heck, even if he loses a third fight to GGG or to David Benavidez or whoever, he’ll come back and win more big fights before he finally hangs up his gloves.
Nobody should shame Canelo or try to detract from his legacy for losing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Bivol – talented, athletic boxers who were amateur prodigies – or for having close/controversial fights with the likes of Erislandy Lara and Golovkin (both world amateur champions who dominated their divisions as pros). Canelo has put up future hall-of-fame stats over the past 12 years, competing with top fighters over four weight classes. If the 5-foot-8 former junior middleweight champ has hit a wall against elite-level light heavyweights, so what?
Mickey Walker, the popular welterweight and middleweight champ of the 1920s, lost to light heavyweight champ Tommy Loughran and was stopped by former heavyweight champ Max Schmeling. But those losses (to fellow hall of farmers) don’t detract from his greatness, they only add to his legacy. The Toy Bulldog stood 5-foot-7 with a 67½-inch wingspan! He had no business mixing it up with the big boys, but he beat a lot of them. Same deal with Dick Tiger, the two-time middleweight champ who won the light heavyweight title during the 1960s. He was KTFO by the great Bob Foster. So what! Foster was a killer. Tiger, who stood 5-foot-8 with a reach about the same as Canelo’s (a little over 70-inch wingspan), is still an ATG.
If Canelo keeps challenging himself he will suffer more setbacks but he’ll also add to his already rich legacy.
TOO SMALL FOR 175
First off kudos to Canelo for taking on major challenges. He is an all time great. I always thought he was too small and not a slick enough boxer to fight against top competition at 175, a shopworn Kovalev aside. Bivol was bigger, stronger and looked like a better boxer. Canelo’s best shots moved Bivol but did not hurt him. It is a good thing Canelo didn’t fight Beterbiev or he would have been sent to the hospital.
I think Canelo would be better served going back to 168 where there are exciting challenges such as Andrade, Benavidez, Charlo, GGG, etc. A rematch will be more of the same and probably worse. In the past where Canelo did not have an edge in ability (Lara) he made up for it in strength. That is not the case at 175.
I favor Beterbiev by KO if he meets Bivol. Finally, what score did you have? The fact that Bivol needed to win the 12th round to avoid a draw seems ridiculous to me. That was easy 116 -112 if not worse. How ironic is it that all judges scored every round the same. How often does that happen?
To think they were talking about Canelo fighting Usyk. What a joke. All the best. – Aaron in Miami
After the Bivol experience, I think Team Canelo and his fans realize that Usyk (who will probably become The Ring’s new P4P King) is a step too far. However, I don’t put it past Canelo to challenge Beterbiev. It’s definitely a fight he can lose – possibly by knockout – and he should be the underdog in that matchup, but I think Beterbiev’s methodical stalking and average hand speed would enable Canelo to get a lot more done than he was able to do vs. Bivol.
As for Beterbiev-Bivol, as I stated earlier, I favor Bivol by decision. Man, politics (boxing and world) aside, I hope we get this one.
I scored Canelo-Bivol 118-110 for Bivol. I only scored Rounds 2 and 9 for Canelo.
As I stated in my post-fight story, I think super middleweight is where Canelo belongs and I think the third GGG fight is his best option, but I’d love to see him take on the challenges of Charlo and Benavidez (I’m less enthused for an Andrade challenge but more power to him if he can get the shot).
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