Those waiting for undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez to face a legitimate challenge might finally get some satisfaction on May 7.
That’s when the Mexican star will face WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol, an unbeaten, polished boxer who Alvarez insists is a legitimate threat to him.
Alvarez and Bivol on Wednesday kicked off the promotion for their pay-per-view showdown, which will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I like challenges, it makes me feel alive,” Alvarez said. “… I like a good challenge, and now I have a very good fighter in front of me, and I’m excited for this fight. Bivol is a really tough fighter, and it’s going to be a really good fight for Cinco de Mayo weekend with my people in Las Vegas, Mexican weekend.
“I’m really excited, and I’m going to prepare really well, because this fight is going to be really hard.”
Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) had originally intended to challenge cruiserweight titleholder Ilunga Makabu but changed his mind, perhaps because of criticism.
He also has been criticized by some for fighting minimal threats Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant in his last four fights, which allowed him to become the undisputed 168-pound champ.
Bivol (19-0, 10 KOs) is a step up from those fighters, at least on paper. The Kyrgyzstan-born Russian was a decorated amateur and has a strong pro resume, defeating in succession Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr.
Also, as a career-long light heavyweight, he’s naturally bigger than Alvarez. So was Sergey Kovalev, who Alvarez stopped in 11 rounds. However, unliked the 31-year-old Bivol, Kovalev was past his prime.
One could argue that the physically imposing Artur Beterbiev (175) or David Benavidez (168) would be more difficult for Alvarez to handle than Bivol but that might be quibbling.
“I believe in my skills, and when I come to the ring, I believe in my victory,” Bivol said. “I’m looking forward to May 7, thank you. Me and my team wanted this fight. … This is very important for me especially because I’m fighting one of the best, if not the best in the world right now.
“I want people to be able to see me and my skills, this is a big fight that can give me the ability to achieve my other goals … if I win this fight.”