Dmitry Bivol stuns Canelo Alvarez, boxing world by winning unanimous decision

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Not only was Dmitry Bivol bigger than Canelo Alvarez. Turned out he was also better.

The WBA light heavyweight titleholder did on Saturday in Las Vegas what only Floyd Mayweather had been able to do, defeat the consensus pound-for-pound king. And while the scoring was close, most observers will agree that Bivol left little doubt about his superiority in the fight.

All three judges had the same score, 115-113, seven rounds to five. Boxing Junkie had it 117-111 for Bivol, nine rounds to three.

We’ll see whether Bivol can do it again in a rematch, which almost certainly will happen. However, on this night, he couldn’t have given a much better performance.

“I proved myself today,” Bivol said. “I’m the best in my [division]. I keep my belt.”

Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) seemed to have a simple game plan: jab to control distance, fire off combinations to keep Alvarez at bay and win rounds, and employ a tight defense.

That formula left Alvarez frustrated and tired by the middle of the fight, when it became clear that Bivol wasn’t destined to be just another victim on Alvarez’s remarkable run of dominance in recent years.

The Mexican star seemed to enter the ring with the wrong game plan, which was to throw hard, single punches in an apparent effort to slow down Bivol or stop him.

He landed enough punches to be competitive but he didn’t go to the body as much as expected, which might’ve been a mistake. And, as Bivol pointed out, perhaps throwing so many power shots wore Alvarez down.

The fact that not many of Alvarez’s punches landed cleanly probably wore him down mentally.

“I felt his power,” Bivol said. “I can feel it on my arm. He beat my arm up but not my head. It’s better. He has good speed, good power. Maybe his mistake was throwing only hard punches. After all the punches, he [was] tired.

“… I was feeling great, like I never feel. I enjoyed this fight.”

Alvarez’s first setback in nine years raises questions.

Was the decision to move up from 168 to face a top 175-pounder in his prime a mistake? Was his game plan indeed flawed? Was it an off night? Or was it simply a matter of Bivol being a better boxer?

Alvarez thought he did enough to win the fight but he gave no excuses.

“You have to accept it,” he said. “It’s boxing. He’s a great champion. Sometimes in boxing you win, sometimes you lose. No excuses. I lost today and he won.”

He went on: “He’s a really good fighter. He comes in, goes out. I also felt his power. … I felt like maybe I did enough to win the fight but that’s boxing.”

Alvarez was asked afterward whether he would demand a rematch, which is guaranteed in the contract they signed. He didn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative.

“Yes, this doesn’t end like this,” he said.

Bivol was asked the same question. And he, too, will happily do it a second time. Only he wants to be treated a little differently.

“No problem,” he said when asked about the rematch. “Let’s talk about a rematch. I wanted this fight because I wanted to get the opportunity [to face a superstar]. I didn’t fight for anything else but to get the fight. I want a rematch. I just want to make sure I can be treated like a champion now.

“… My fans believed in me. And it wasn’t a misjudgment.”