The King is dead, long live the King.
Dmitry Bivol’s sensational victory over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas at the weekend brought an end to the Mexican’s domination of the pound-for-pound rankings, certainly in the eyes of The Ring magazine and most observers. The tall Russian successfully defended his WBA light-heavyweight title for a ninth time and in so doing staked his own claim for the unified world title and his own position in the mythical P4P rankings.
Despite the identical scores of 115-113 returned by the three judges on the night, this was as dominant a performance in an elite championship fight seen this year. Bivol controlled the tempo of the contest from the opening bell with an aggressive approach, commanding the centre of the ring and repeatedly peppering Alvarez with his solid jab. At times the Mexican’s head resembled the puppet Punch, as Judy hammered him with a fairground stick. The constant rat-a-tat-tat led to a reddening of Alvarez’ face very early in the contest and this became the theme for the remaining eleven rounds.
The difference in size and strength was evident as Canelo tried desperately to make an impact in the fight. He had rounds of success hammering the Russian to the ribs and arms and trying to get on the inside for a sustained period, the ninth being his best. But, bar a few solid hooks to the chin that Bivol absorbed, the winner was clear. The Undisputed gave Canelo a maximum of four rounds with a score of 116-112 in favour of the Russian.
Bivol (20-0, 11 KO’s) was brilliant and now sits on the cusp of either a direct rematch with Alvarez or, an opportunity to unify the 175lb world titles by meeting American Joe Smith Jr or his Russian compatriot Artur Beterbiev. The latter holds the WBC and IBF titles and was considered the best in the division. Smith Jr is the WBO title holder and will meet Beterbiev on June 18.
Bivol already holds a win over Smith who is considered a big underdog going into the Beterbiev contest. However, Saturday showed – always expect the unexpected.
The loss was the second registered on Canelo’s record (57-2-2, 39 KO’s) with the first being way back in 2013 to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Still, as the biggest name in the sport the options remain endless for him. The smart money, given Bivol’s dominance on Saturday, would be for the Mexican to step back down to 168lbs and have the long awaited career defining trilogy fight with Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin. All of a sudden that seems more competitive than many were saying before the weekend’s events. Golovkin will surrender nine years in age but Canelo’s time at the top now seems on the decline.
Dmitry Bivol is now firmly on the elite world scene and big fights await.