Dmitry Bivol upsets Canelo Alvarez to retain light heavyweight title

LAS VEGAS – Canelo Alvarez was looking to add another accomplishment to a surefire Hall of Fame career, but Dmitry Bivol halted the parade.

The reigning WBA "Super" light heavyweight world champion dominated Alvarez in a major upset to win by unanimous decision and stunned the pro-Canelo crowd Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I proved myself today,” Bivol told DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the ring. “I’m the best in my [division]. I keep this belt. And thank you [to Canelo]. And sorry I broke your plans with Gennadiy Golovkin. Thank you to Canelo and his team. He’s a great champion.”

All three judges scored the fight 115-113 for Bivol, who remains undefeated. However, the fight wasn’t close in reality. scored the fight 117-111 for Bivol.

According to Compubox, Bivol landed 152 of 710 punches (21 percent), while Alvarez landed just 84 of 495 blows (17 percent).

The much-anticipated trilogy fight between Canelo and Golovkin was already signed for Sept. 17. However, those plans are officially on hold. Alvarez said he plans to exercise his contractual right to an immediate rematch.

"It doesn't end like this," said Alvarez. “No excuses, I lost today; he is a great boxer; I felt his power. He comes in and he goes out. He manages his distance really well."

Bivol welcomed a second fight.

“Rematch? No problem.”

He defended his world title for the fourth time and solidified his spot as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet with his defeat of Alvarez, who lost for the first time since his September 2013 defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The trek began for Bivol when he took up boxing at the age of six. Born in Soviet Kyrgyzstan to a Moldovan father and an ethnic Korean mother, Bivol moved to Russia at the age of 11, where he won two world championships at the junior (U-17) level, as well as a bronze medal at the 2008 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in the middleweight division. Bivol also went on to win the Russian national amateur boxing championships in 2012 and 2014 as a light heavyweight, finishing his decorated amateur career 268-15.

Bivol made his pro debut in November 2014 and made a great impression off the bat. The 31-year-old fought for a WBA interim title in his ninth pro fight, which he won via fourth-round TKO over Robert Berridge in February 2017. Following another fourth-round stoppage victory over Cedric Agnew in June of that year, Bivol was elevated to WBA's "regular" champion. After five defenses of the belt, the sanctioning body promoted Bivol a second time to "Super" champion leading up to his October 2019 unanimous decision win against Lenin Castillo.

After three defenses of the top title, it set the stage for Bivol to land a big fight. And that came in the form of Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs), 31, of Mexico, who has won world titles in four divisions from junior middleweight to light heavyweight, including the undisputed 168-pound world championship.

With the crowd chanting “Canelo! Canelo!” from the onset, Bivol looked to spoil the Cinco De Mayo holiday celebrations.

In round one, Bivol got the jab going effectively. Towards the end of the first, Bivol connected with a pair of combinations, a three-punch salvo, and a two-punch connection to take the first round. By the end of the frame, Alvarez’s face was already red.

"I know how people love Canelo and it's normal, he's the biggest fighter in the world," Bivol said. "He's a champion in four weight classes and has four belts. People are on his side. No problem for me."

Alvarez got into gear in round three, connecting with a pair of uppercuts directly on Bivol's chin, but the champion took them well. Bivol landed with a left hand that forced Alvarez to clinch, but was unable to follow up.

Bivol took back control in the fourth frame with a beautiful boxing display. He found success to the body behind the jab and followed up with right hands over the top. Canelo broke through with a big right uppercut at the end of the frame, but it was not enough to win the round.

Although Bivol was clearly in control, all three judges, Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti, and Steve Weisfeld, scored the first four rounds for Alvarez.

In round five, Bivol backed up Alvarez and unleashed a barrage of punches on his Mexican adversary. A couple shots managed to land, but Canelo was also able to evade a number of those attacks with his superior defense.

Bivol continued to give Alvarez fits in round six as he exemplified ring mastery. As the fight wore on, it became evident that Canelo needed a big shot to turn the tide, but that didn't happen.

A wild scene unfolded in the eighth round as Bivol wasn't outboxing him - he outfought and bullied Alvarez against the ropes. The pro-Canelo crowd tried to cheer their man back into the fight, and it may have helped him to an extent. Alvarez connected with a slew of body shots, but time continued to work against him.

As the championship rounds commenced, it was the Dmitry Bivol show as he clinically outboxed Alvarez. The crowd roared hoping he could rally and score another emphatic knockout, but Canelo admitted he was fatigued.

Despite admitting he lost after the fight, Canelo quickly changed his mind during the post-fight press conference.

"I don't feel like I lost the fight," he stated. “Personally, I felt he only won four or five rounds, maybe the weight was a slight issue and made me feel less than 100 percent. We want the rematch and we're going to do better in the rematch.”

To kickoff the DAZN Pay-Per-View show, unbeaten heavyweight Zhang Zhilei (24-0-1, 19 KOs) crushed Scott Alexander (16-5-2, 8 KOs) with a straight left hand to end their affair in the first round. Marc "Tesla" Castro (7-0, 5 KOs) followed up with a six-round unanimous decision victory over Pedro Vicente (7-5-1, 2 KOs) to maintain his perfect record. Undefeated welterweight Shakhram Giyasov (13-0, 10 KOs) dropped Christian Gomez three times, in rounds four, seven, and 10, en route to a unanimous decision rout. However, Giyasov didn't escape the fight unscathed as he sustained a cut around his left eye and a bloody nose, but the blood didn't change the outcome.

In the co-sleeper, Montana Love and Christian Gollaz traded knockdowns, but it was Love who came out on top of a unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 114-112.

On the undercard, undefeated 112-pounder Joselito Velazquez (15-0-1, 10 KOs) brutally stopped Jose Soto (15-2, 6 KOs) in the sixth round of a scheduled eight-round affair. Alexis Espino (9-1-1, 6 KOs) suffered the first loss of his pro career as he was knocked out in four rounds by Aaron Silva (10-0, 7 KOs). Unbeaten 130-pounder Elnur Abduraimov (9-0, 8 KOs) stopped previously unbeaten Manuel Correa (11-1, 7 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder. Junior elterweight Fernando Molina (8-0, 3 KOs) overcame a knockdown to defeat Ricardo Valdovinos (8-2, 5 KOs) by split decision over six rounds.

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