The Weekender

‘Canelo’ returns to face tall Russian champ Bivol.
Photo courtesy: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

After the brilliant weekend of action in the USA seven days ago with standout victories for Katie Taylor and Shakur Stevenson it’s the turn of widely accepted pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. He faces Russian Dmitry Bivol in Las Vegas on Mexican ‘Cinco de Mayo’ weekend for the WBA light-heavyweight title.

Alvarez (57-1-2, 37 KO’s) is a money making machine and top of everyone’s hit list. To face him means instant millionaire status, but his standing in the sport is such that he calls the shots, in the view of some ‘cherry picking’ his way to the boxing hall of fame. That would be unfair, as the 31 year old is an exceptional fighter with a record that would stand with any of his legendary Mexican predecessors.

The man from Guadalajara has won versions of world titles from light-middleweight (154lbs/11st) up to light-heavy (175lbs/12st,7lbs) – four divisions in total. This has seen him involved in some of the greatest events in the modern era, including two standout fights with Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin and a defeat to Floyd Mayweather early in his career.

In Bivol (19-0, 11 KO’s), he faces a well schooled fighter coming out of the Russian system with a significantly bigger frame having campaigned at 175lbs for the whole of his professional career. Quite why the 31 year old Russian (albeit born in Kyrgystan with Moldovan and Korean parentage) is allowed to fight for millions of dollars in the current world political climate is dumbfounding, but through his fistic endeavours he’s earned the right. Bivol stands 6 foot 1 with a strong jab and power, and will pose significant early problems to the much shorter Canelo.

The Russian has few significant victories under his belt despite boasting a good knockout record. At championship level he’s tended to dominate but outpoint his opposition. His finest victory coming against current WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. This is though a big chance for him to make a statement and set up a unification fight against fellow Russian Artur Beterbiev, considered the divisional king.

For Alvarez, this is a further opportunity to cement his legacy and settle the arguments about his legitimacy as the greatest Mexican fighter of all time. This is a generational debate and to really put his ‘flag in the sand’ he needs to win impressively here and then step back down to 160-168lbs to settle the score with his old adversary Golovkin. Look for the teak tough Canelo to navigate his way through the early rounds and win the fight with a unanimous points victory. Then, we can hopefully look forward to a GGG trilogy fight in September.

Both fighters made the specified weight last night – Alvarez 174.4lbs and Bivol 174.6lbs.

The fight is promoted by Matchroom Boxing and will be televised on the DAZN streaming site with UK coverage around 05:00 BST.

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