Canelo Alvarez’s aura of invincibility is fading after he was outclassed by Dmitry Bivol… the Mexican will be hell-bent on revenge but a trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin also appeals – so, what’s next for the wounded pound-for-pound king?
- Canelo Alvarez was under-par last weekend as he was defeated by Dmitry Bivol
- The Mexican now looks set to take a rematch aiming to avenge the points loss
- Sportsmail assesses his performance and how the defeat changes his plans
Canelo and losing are not two things that often go together in boxing, and the Mexican’s eye-opening defeat to Dmitry Bivol last weekend was certainly not in the Hollywood script.
The biggest blessing Alvarez has is also his problem – the constant need for greater challenge, and on Saturday he came up against an obstacle that was possibly too big to overcome.
The 31-year-old seems to want a piece of everyone. He’s already taken down light-heavyweight star Sergey Kovalev and was already talking about fighting Oleksandr Usyk at cruiserweight.
His ambition is his achilles heel because now his aura of invincibility is fading as he keeps challenging the top dogs in higher weight classes.
Canelo Alvarez’s loss to Dmitry Bivol took away his aura of invincibility on Saturday night
The Mexican met his match as he was outclassed by the Russian and lost unanimously
Canelo was the favourite to steamroll Bivol in Las Vegas but after his unanimous decision loss, it is clear far too many people have either never seen Bivol fight or don’t respect his skillset enough.
Bivol caused the pound-for-pound king so many problems with his stinging jab, quick hands, smart defence and stubbornness – so much so that Canelo appeared to look deflated half way through the fight as he struggled to come up with a successful game plan.
The Russian was clever, precise and calculated with every punch thrown and every step he took. Canelo was largely restricted to body shots – summed up by Bivol’s bright red arm come the final bell.
This did not look like the feared, elite fighter that many have been calling one of the greatest fighters of his generation – and possibly one of the best ever. But the issue is that Canelo might have to learn to stay in his lane if he now goes into a rematch – which he is expected to do – and is outsmarted again.
Canelo couldn’t handle Bivol’s stinging jab, aggression and clever defence in Las Vegas
He wants to prove that he could step in the ring with almost anyone and come out on top, which means avoiding Bivol simply isn’t an option.
His promoter Eddie Hearn admitted his fighter was ‘handicapping himself’ to show his quality and said he would almost certainly go into a second fight with the Russian – calling it ‘the biggest fight in boxing’.
‘I think Canelo against Dmitry Bivol (in a rematch) is probably the biggest fight in boxing right now,’ he said after the fight. ‘But it’s going to be down to Canelo, and obviously we’ll speak to Dmitrii and (manager) Vadim (Kornilov), but I can’t see (Canelo) not wanting to accept the challenge.’
‘I said in the build-up, it’s like Canelo wants to handicap himself and fight these big, great champions to test himself, and tonight it was maybe a bridge too far against a great light heavyweight world champion. But knowing Saul, I would think he would only want one fight, which is the rematch with Dmitry Bivol.’
Even Bivol knows how much he ripped up the script and wrecked Canelo’s next career move after the fight, issuing an apology to Hearn.
The 31-year-old is intent on activating the rematch clause and said: ‘This doesn’t end like this’
‘Sorry I broke your plans with Gennady Golovkin.’
Canelo’s old dance partner Golovkin will definitely be disappointed for sure after his money-spinning trilogy with the Mexican went up in smoke. The Kazakhstani fighter came through his tricky unification fight against Ryoto Murata last month and was waiting for Alvarez to come through on his side of the bargain.
But Golovkin tried not to show his discontent with losing Canelo, instead opting to be gracious on Twitter.
He wrote: ‘Congratulations on your win Dmitry Bivol! That was solid. Keep it up!’
Golovkin will be desperate to avenge the only loss to Canelo in 2018, in what would be their third clash after a controversial draw in the first bout. Many had Golovkin winning both fights, so he has a score to settle. But this one will be on ice for now.
His defeat scuppers any hopes of facing Gennady Golovkin for a third fight later this year
The pair were tipped to complete their trilogy with a money-spinning bout after Canelo beat his old rival via majority decision in 2018
For Canelo, who we know despises losing, he cannot think of anything other than getting immediate revenge, and is not looking past Bivol. He has a rematch clause in his contract and has every intention of activating it.
‘This doesn’t end like this,’ he said after his crushing loss.
‘Boxing is like that. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but always with your head held high.
‘I stay with the great fight that we offered to the people. We will fight again and we will win again.’
Bivol is also keen to dance with Canelo again. He looked comfortable in the ring against him and was never seriously hurt. The Mexican will have to come up with a radically different game plan to turn things around.
‘A rematch? No problem. Let’s talk about a rematch,’ said the Russian.
Canelo looked deflated after his loss but vowed to ‘hold his head high’ and gain his revenge
Bivol was underestimated in the build up, with many pundits backing Canelo for an easy win
‘I took this fight because I just wanted the opportunity and I appreciate the opportunity. I am ready for the rematch, I just want to make sure I win and am treated like a champion now.’
Bivol’s promoter said talks were already underway to determine the venue for the fight, saying: ‘I’d say the preparation process will take at least from four to five months.
‘And the place for the fight is still to be decided, but most likely it will be in USA.’
Canelo is adamant he didn’t lose the fight, despite going down 115-113 on all three of the judges’ scorecards. That confidence is what sets him apart from most average fighters, but he cannot think that he can produce the same performance and get a different result next time around.
‘I definitely didn’t lose the fight,’ he said as he chewed over his defeat. ‘I think I got a little bit tired toward the final rounds, but I felt good.’
Canelo was previously seen as superhuman but now he must prove he is still boxing’s top dog
Canelo came into this fight with a superhuman reputation because no one out there seemed a match for him, but even Superman has a weakness and Bivol exposed his flaws in front of a packed crowd in Vegas.
Bivol set the tempo in the fight, putting Canelo on the back foot with his aggression, clever jab and quick footwork. He allowed his fearsome foe to stand in front of him in range, but the four-weight world champion could not make any real connection with any of his shots to hurt Bivol.
The arm of Bivol ended up being the unsung hero of the fight and Canelo’s failure to land sustained blows to the head will be a concern going into the next fight.
Canelo is on a mission to conquer the world of boxing and has set his goals high. Last year he nearly took on Ilunga Makabu at crusierweight, but his first loss in nine years has brought him back to reality.
He might be one of the superstars of the sport, but the world now knows he is not unstoppable, and there will be a target on his back. Elite fighters will smell blood and that’s a new challenge Canelo will have to cope with.
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