It didn’t matter that Dmitry Bivol entered Saturday night’s title defense with the WBA light heavyweight belt.
He walked to the ring first, amidst boos, and allowed challenger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez a grand entrance filled with a Mariachi band, fireworks, and boxing’s pound-for-pound great on a raised platform.
Bivol just wanted to fight. And fight he did.
Using height and reach to his advantage, Bivol continually battered Alvarez throughout the fight to retain his title by unanimous decision at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Doesn’t matter which one, first or second, doesn’t matter to me — I just wanted this fight,” Bivol said of the ring entrance. “Doesn’t matter which sound he has, which sound I have, how he went in. … And when he was going to the ting, and I heard the crowd, I really enjoyed how the crowd was yelling.” The unbeaten Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), who has held a version of his belt since May 2016, handed Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) just the second defeat of his career. All three judges scored the bout 115-113 in Bivol’s favor.
In dominating fashion, Bivol landed 36% of his power punches, per CompuBox, and outpunched Canelo, 152-84. Canelo’s 84 landed punches were the fewest landed in a 12-round fight. “I knew that he has hard punches and he will beat on my body or my arm,” Bivol said. “I think from the (start) of the fight, I see him; I see what he wants to do.”
After opening the fight with a trio of very close rounds, it was clear Bivol would be able to utilize his taller and longer advantages to pepper Alvarez and keep him off when charging with his power punches.