Gregory Bull/Associated Press
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) is back for another Cinco de Mayo weekend showdown, as he prepares to take on Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) for the WBA light heavyweight world title at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
After beating Caleb Plant in November to become the undisputed super middleweight champion, Alvarez decided to challenge himself again and move up to 175 pounds. His only other fight at that weight came in November 2019, when he defeated Sergey Kovalev by 11th-round knockout to win the WBO world title.
Bivol, 31, isn’t as flashy or as well-known as some of Alvarez’s previous opponents, but he could prove the toughest. The undefeated Russian is a natural light heavyweight with a fantastic shot and expert defensive skills. He last fought in December, beating Umar Salamov by a wide unanimous decision.
Alvarez vs. Bivol fight info
When: Saturday, May 7 at 8 p.m. ET (main card start time)
Or: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
Direct: DAZN pay per view
Odds: Alvarez -475 (bet $475 to win $100), Bivol +350 (bet $100 to win $350)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
For several years now, Alvarez, 31, has been the sport’s premier fighter. He takes on tough opponents on a regular basis, bouncing around in different weight classes to do so. The Mexican superstar survived Gennady Golovkin’s incredible punching power in two brutal duels, had Daniel Jacobs punches in the air in 2019, and has consistently broken down Billy Joe Saunders and Plant in his recent outings. It is a code as difficult to decipher as there is in boxing at the moment.
Despite the many accomplishments, some believe Bivol could finally disrupt the Alvarez era. Bivol is a savvy and technically sound boxer who has comfortably fielded fighters weighing around 175 pounds his entire career. He has held the WBA world title since 2017, consistently winning by big margins on the cards. He also has height (6’0″ to 5’8″) and reach (72″ to 70.5″) advantages over Alvarez, per BoxRec.
Measurable metrics can help in any fight, but they’re especially useful for Bivol, who has one of the best punches in boxing. He can rack up punches with the jab or use it to put together quick and precise combinations. Bivol is also a nightmare to attack. Opponents usually can’t generate consistent offense against him, like CBS Sports Brian Campbell Remarks:
“What ultimately separates Bivol, however, is his defense. Opponents only get 5.8 total punches per round against him, which is second only to Demetrius Andrade’s 5.1 and well below the CompuBox average. Bivol also leads all other boxers, including Vasiliy Lomachenko, Shakur Stevenson and Alvarez, with plus/minus odds of +20.3, which subtracts opponents’ connect percentage from a fighter of their own.”
To his credit, Alvarez seems aware that this trip to the light heavyweight division will be tougher than the last.
Slowing down the fight in a defensive fight seems like a nice path to victory for Bivol, but Alvarez has seen this kind of confrontation before. Like Bivol, Plant was seen as a challenge to Alvarez due to his size, length, and fast, efficient shot. It wasn’t enough, as Alvarez skillfully clipped the ring and shredded Plant with heavy punches en route to a late stoppage.
If Bivol wants to employ a similar strategy, he’ll just have to be better than Plant. Maintaining vigilance in the ring and avoiding pitfalls will be crucial. Alvarez is a vicious hitter, just as capable of stopping a fighter with a shot to the chin as he is to the midsection. Bivol hasn’t won a fight by stoppage since March 2018, and he probably won’t fare well if he gets into extended rallies.
This fight is going to be interesting as both men look to implement their favorite strategies. Bivol should be able to frustrate Alvarez with his jab and win a handful of rounds keeping things boring. Ultimately, Alvarez will get his own timing, maybe land a few counters, and then assert himself with his power. However, he can take a fair amount of punishment doing so, and the scores could be all over the place after 12 rounds.
Prediction: Alvarez via split decision
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