Canelo Alvarez’s mission against Dmitry Bivol: add to his legacy

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Canelo Alvarez has adopted a mantra in the past several years. And on Thursday he repeated it again at the final news conference before he challenges 175-pound titleholder Dmitry Bivol on pay-per-view Saturday from Las Vegas:

“I just want to make history.”

The undisputed super middleweight champ has already made a lot of that, defeating one elite opponent after another, collecting titles in four divisions and rising to No. 1 on most pound-for-pound lists (No. 2 on Boxing Junkie’s).

Alvarez has taken major titles from five of his last seven opponents. A victory over the unbeaten, naturally bigger WBA champ on Saturday would be more “history.”

“I like that challenge,” Alvarez said. “I just want to make history. This is the kind of challenge that puts me in the books of the history of boxing. I feel alive when I have this kind of challenge.

“I respect Dmitry Bivol [but] it’s my time. I feel I’m in my prime. I enjoy this kind of moment.”

Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) and longtime trainer Eddy Reynoso know that the challenge could be difficult.

The Mexican star faced an elite 175-pounder in November 2019, when he stopped Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round of what had been a close fight to take Kovalev’s WBO title (which he later vacated).

Kovalev was a good experienced, boxer with more punching power than Bivol but he was believed by many to be in decline at 36 years old. Both Alvarez and Bivol are 31 and in their primes.

Bivol, who had an extensive amateur career in Russia, is an excellent boxer with particularly good footwork and defensive skills. He’s slick.

“Obviously it’s a really difficult, complicated fight against a really good champion,” Reynoso said through a translator. “He’s a boxer who has faced great champions over the years and has a great amateur pedigree, as well.

“We’re looking to write history. That’s why we went up to 175. But he’s a really good boxer. It’ll be a difficult fight Saturday.”

Alvarez also acknowledged Bivol’s ability but he’s pretty sure who will have his hand raised.

“I’m ready,” he said. “I believe in my skills. And I’m very confident with how strong I am.”

Meanwhile, Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) didn’t get to the pinnacle of his division by doubting himself.

The native of Kyrgyzstan demonstrated his mettle by defeating in succession Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr. in 2018 and 2019, one of the more impressive runs in recent history.

Of course, Alvarez is a significant step up from all of the above. Bivol recognizes and embraces that.

Can he win? As he put it, “Why not?”

“If you don’t believe in what you do, you never win,” he said. “I believe in my ring career. Why not? I’ve been boxing since I can remember, since I was 5 years old. At 16 I was a two-time world champion amateur. It means a lot.

“Now I’m champion. Why not?”

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