Why Canelo Alvarez Can’t Overlook Dmitry Bivol and the Potential Light Heavyweight Dangers

In the past seven years, in the immediate wake of former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather’s retirement, boxing fans have become so accustomed to Canelo Alvarez daring to be great about his matchmaking that his opponents often get into a be thrown in a pot.

Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs), whose only pro loss came to Mayweather in 2013, succeeded the fighter known simply as “Money” as the most popular, wealthy and critically acclaimed boxers during this period. creating his own era. A big part of the Mexican icon that achieved such high acclaim was how well he maintained a challenger’s mindset.

A revealing stat revealed this week by podcast host and social media broadcaster Dan Canobbio reminds us that 31-year-old Alvarez will fight for his opponent’s world title for the 11th time in 14 bouts this Saturday, a margin , which includes four weight classes dating back to 2015. The only bouts that didn’t meet those criteria were a mandatory 168-pound title defense (Avni Yildirim) and two pay-per-view events (Amir Khan, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.) .

This weekend, for the first time since 2019, Alvarez is back in his familiar spot as a PPV headliner during Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas. However, his opponent could turn out to be different from the others, only nobody talks about it.

Alvarez will climb back to 175 pounds for the first time since winning the WBC title from Sergey Kovalev in 2019 (before immediately vacating it) when he battles Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) for his WBA light heavyweight belt challenges in the T-Mobile Arena.

For casual fighters, Bivol is just another name. The reality, however, is that this has everything to potentially become a trap fight for Alvarez, regardless of whether he’s playing house money, as he continues his 2021 campaign by becoming the first undisputed super middleweight champion by gaining weight alone Once again.

For the past few years, Alvarez fights have made headlines not only in martial arts, but at times throughout the mainstream sports world. This time around, however, the Bivol fight appears to have wormed its way onto the boxing calendar, overshadowed in recent weeks by Tyson Fury’s return in front of 94,000 fans and a Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano thriller billed as the greatest fight in women’s history.

The lack of sustained excitement leading into the fight has somewhat tarnished the real challenge that 31-year-old Bivol, a native of Russia who was born in Kyrgyzstan, actually brings to the table. One need look no further than the betting odds to see the real danger of this fight illustrated.

Bivol opened as just a +250 underdog, which is the closest thing to a pick ’em bettor when he’s bet on Alvarez in recent years. Although Bivol has swollen up to +400 depending on the oddsmaker, he still has the best chance of any current Alvarez opponents in terms of odds other than Gennadiy Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs.

The reason this is interesting is because many observers feel Golovkin did enough to beat Alvarez despite some very controversial goals in both PPV meetings. Jacobs, meanwhile, pushed Alvarez to the limits of his 2019 middleweight unification bout before being ousted 116-112 and 115-113 (twice).

Bivol is a very different animal from a physical standpoint than anyone Alvarez has faced, considering his 4-inch height advantage mixed with his dominant technical ability, honed during a long and decorated amateur career that included two gold medal wins at the World Junior Championships has developed.

What Bivol lacks in name recognition or highlight reel finishes, he makes up for with critical acclaim as one of the best straight boxers in the game. He’s also the much taller fighter, allowed to compete at his preferred weight, although he has previously said he’d cut down to 168lbs if it were to draw Alvarez.

The truth for Alvarez is that he could have literally fought anyone he wanted to get back. His critics, who remain a dwindling bunch given his astronomical success, pointed out how much money he had turned down to stay at £168. In fact, this week TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown revealed the exact offers Alvarez received from Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions for fights against Jermall Charlo ($45 million), David Benavidez ($55 million) and even a 164-pound Catchweight fight against welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. ($55 million).

Alvarez, who has instead opted for a multi-fight deal with preferred promoter Eddie Hearn and streaming network DAZN, has even been accused of outright dodging Benavidez, despite his consistent (and rather sublime) quest’s choice of Bivol equates to history and world titles above it merely for glamor or financial reward.

The thing about choosing Bivol, however, is that given his defense and fundamentals, it’s incredibly difficult to look good against him. He’s also had a string of somewhat boring title defenses against opponents who were either unwilling or clumsy enough to push him beyond his comfort zone, which has conveniently hidden just how good he is.

Statistically, according to CompuBox, Bivol is only behind Golovkin (10.1) in the category of jabs, which landed at 9.7 per round. In his last title defense against Umar Salamov in December, 76% of Bivol’s shot attempts were jabs.

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In fact, Bivol landed more punches in round 7 of this fight alone than Salamov did in the entire 12 rounds. Bivol is also a model combination puncher, very good at starting his offensive body punches to bring down his opponents’ higher guard.

What ultimately separates Bivol, however, is his defense. Opponents only land a total of 5.8 punches against him, which is second only to Demetrius Andrade’s 5.1 and well below the CompuBox average for all fighters of 16.4. Bivol also leads all other boxers, including Vasiliy Lomachenko, Shakur Stevenson and Alvarez, with a plus/minus rating of +20.3, which subtracts a fighter’s opponents’ connection percentage from their own.

Bivol also ranks first at 5.4 for the fewest punches his opponents land per round, edging out Andrade and Tyson Fury at the top spot.

Should Alvarez clinch another 175-pound world title on Saturday, there’s no telling what he will do next as he remains focused on overtaking the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. as the top boxer in Mexico’s long lineage of champions. But make no mistake, the challenge he must complete first to get there is not easy.

Alvarez will need to be as patient as he is precise in a fight that feels increasingly difficult as the days draw closer.

Who will win Canelo against Bivol? And which prop should not be missing? Visit SportsLine now to see Saturday’s best Brandon Wise bets, all from the CBS martial arts specialist who crushed his boxpicks in 2021, and find out. Why Canelo Alvarez Can’t Overlook Dmitry Bivol and the Potential Light Heavyweight Dangers

Justin Scacco

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