Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol results, takeaways: what can the Mexican superstar fix for a rematch?

Boxing fans and the media demand a lot from fighters – fight the best, collect championships and seek new challenges. Canelo Alvarez has been doing just that for years and is still being criticized by many for not doing “enough” or fighting the wrong champions or chasing the wrong challenges.

After clinching four super middleweight world championships and with many other options on the table, Alvarez decided to make a return to light heavyweight, seeking a far more compelling and difficult opponent than his first foray to 175 pounds when he saw an old and faded knockout Sergei Kovalev . That decision proved too much of a risk for Alvarez on Saturday night when the Mexican superstar was thoroughly outplayed by WBA Champion Dmitry Bivol, who retained his title unanimously.

Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from the night Canelo’s risks failed and Bivol really took to the world stage.

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1. This was no coincidence for Bivol

Bivol is a respected, technical fighter who presented real problems for Alvarez going into the fight. Knowing this, and despite the odds in Las Vegas suggesting otherwise, CBS esports pundit Brian Campbell predicted a Bivol victory. Alvarez looked stunned by Bivol at times. Not only did Bivol stick to a strict, disciplined game plan, but Alvarez wasn’t the stronger man in the ring, and when he hit heavy power, it never seemed to shake Bivol in the slightest.

As Bivol stuck to the playbook, landing quick combinations and a sometimes seemingly endless series of jabs, Alvarez began to look lost. He couldn’t play the bully, he couldn’t overwhelm his opponent, and he seemed to have no idea how to switch to a new strategy on the fly once those old standbys were gone.

That night there was no doubt that Bivol was better than the man billed as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

2. Can Canelo fix his game for the rematch?

There are just a few things Alvarez can’t change should he fulfill his promise to fulfill his rematch clause and fight Bivol again. Alvarez cannot grow taller, nor can he become as physically strong as would be productive in a boxing ring. Bivol proved he wasn’t a man who would be shoved around by Alvarez and his jab was deadly effective and this tool benefits hugely from a height and range advantage.

The path for Alvarez to beat Bivol would largely have to come down to a more effective form of aggression than Alvarez executed on Saturday night. He can’t afford to be the man pushed back when Bivol unleashes punches in numbers that simply eclipse what he’s dishing out. Instead, Canelo needs to dish out more punches and make sure Bivol can’t dictate the action. This is of course easier said than done.

3. Should Canelo contest the rematch at all?

Given that solving the problems he had against Bivol is a tall order, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Alvarez to return to super middleweight, a division where he’s still the undisputed four-belt champion. Many big fights await him south of the light heavyweight division, including the trilogy fight with Gennadiy Golovkin already planned for the fall. The Golovkin fight, already overdue as Alvarez appears to have decided to wait out his great rival’s remaining competitive years, has a fairly firm expiration date as Golovkin’s days as an elite fighter appear to be limited by the reality of age.

A rematch with Bivol could come easily and lose nothing in prestige. So why not go back to super middleweight or middleweight and tick some of the boxes his detractors said were necessary to prove he wasn’t “evading” the most dangerous fights while also making the Golovkin rivalry once and for all bring to bed? Bivol is a young 31 year old, he will be in for the rematch sometime in the future.

4. The judges almost spoiled another night

When the official scorecards were read and all three judges returned the same 115-113 scorecard, boxing fans around the world felt that old twist in their guts. This feeling usually comes when you know someone is about to end up suffering a terrible loss dictated by poor judgment. Instead, Bivol earned the unanimous decision win, albeit by scorecards that did not adequately reflect the dominance of his performance.

Then round-by-round scoring was announced and fans got a glimpse of three scorecards everything gave Canelo each of the first four rounds. How not one, but all three official scorers saw the first four rounds for Canelo is amazing. Canelo was held at single digit connections in all four rounds – and in 10 of the 12 total rounds, bivols shots were the better and more meaningful shots. It’s amazing that a fight in which Bivol landed almost twice as many punches (152 to 84) as Canelo and overtook him every single round was one round away from being counted as a tie.

At least for one night the result was correct. Even if the method of coming to the right conclusion made so little sense. Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol results, takeaways: what can the Mexican superstar fix for a rematch?

Justin Scacco

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