Canelo loses to Bivol in upset
Bivol “Unanimous Decision” Over Canelo
By Tom Donelson / Author and Respected Contributor to dmboxing.com Since 2008 / Member Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA)
The Kentucky Derby saw an 80 to 1 shot win as Rich Strike came from nowhere to win. In Las Vegas, the heavily favored Canelo Alvarez found himself in a struggle against Dmitry Bivol and just as Rich Strike broke the bank, so did Bivol.
Alvarez has not lost a fight since he lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and his goal was to add more belts to his trophy room as Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title was on the line. Bivol had not lost a fight in his career but in his 18-fight professional career, he had not fought someone in Alvarez’s class.
The first round saw Bivol get his jab moving and while Alvarez approached with hooks, he had considerable distance to cover to reach his opponent . Bivol connected on fourteen punches to Alvarez’ five punches in the first round and while Alvarez’ opening punches showed more power, Bivol connected on almost three times as many . The second round saw Bivol pumping his jab and Alvarez landing three good body shots that could have won him the round.
From this point, Bivol’s boxing skills took over and this was shown in the Compubox numbers. Bivol connected on 152 punches to 84 for Alvarez and he threw more punches, 710 to 496. He even connected on more power shots, 106 punches to 74, which should have been Alvarez’ advantage.
Bivol had fast hands and kept Canelo on the defensive throughout most of the evening. In the third round, Canelo connected on hard lefts to the body and right hooks, but Bivol answered with a three-punch combination. Bivol dodged out of Canelo’s way and his defensive skills allowed him to counter Alvarez.
The fourth round saw good give and take but it was Bivol who came out ahead, something that rarely happens in an Alvarez fight. Overall, Bivol connected with 21% overall and 36% of his power shots compared to 17% for Alvarez and only 28% of his power shots .
While Bivol only connected on 21% since Alvarez is a better defensive fighter than most people give him credit, Alvarez rarely was able to connect on 17% shots of his own. Alvarez had only two rounds in which he connected on more double-digit punches and Bivol connected on double-digit punches in ten of the twelve rounds.
Halfway thru the fight Bivol connected on 71 of 316 punches to Canelo’s 40 of 248 punches. Over the second half of the fight, Bivol connected on 81 versus 44 for Canelo. Bivol was the busier fighter with 394 punches thrown versus 247 punches over the second half of the fight.
I had the fight 59-55 over the first half and the second half a similar score; so I had the fight 118-110 but most of the others at ringside had the fight 117-111. I had Bivol winning ten rounds and others had Bivol winning nine rounds . When you look at the punches connected per round, Bivol connected more punches every round, but this does not take into account the actual punches. There were three rounds in which the margin of punches connected was two punches. There were some close rounds that could have gone to Alvarez. The judges themselves had the fight seven rounds to five for Bivol and they had the fight closer than I had it.
Bivol’s boxing skills took hold over Canelo Alvarez and Alvarez failed to penetrate Bivol’s defense. Alvarez began his career as a super welterweight and has moved up the weight divisions . Alvarez’ last fight in the light heavyweight division was against Sergey Kovalev two years ago, but Kovalev was a fighter in apparent decline whereas Bivol has been a light heavyweight all of his career. He was the naturally bigger fighter and while he did not have the knockout punch of Alvarez, it could be that being a natural light heavyweight helped Bivol in taking Alvarez’ power as well as his defensive skills.
Boxing writer and historian David Martinez noted how one-sided the fight was and how close the score was. The latter does not surprise me since Alvarez is a popular fighter in Vegas and he was given the benefit of the doubt, but this fight was one sided. Martinez, like many at ringside, had Bivol winning nine rounds and I had Bivol winning ten rounds. Just look at the Compubox numbers and they are not close. Bivol consistently throughout most of the fight out-punched Alvarez by two to one in most rounds and there were only three rounds in which you can say the number of punches connected were close between both. While not all punches are equal, when you out punch another fighter two to one and you even connect on more power punches, you should win the fight. The 7-5 margin in favor of Bivol was too close of margin and does not reflect his domination.
Both fighters want a rematch. Alvarez because he wants to avenge this loss, and Bivol because it is a big money fight for him. A question for Bivol is that in the next fight, he might have to knock Alvarez out to ensure a victory due to the closeness of this decision.