Dmitry Bivol must aim for damage limitation but could still be stopped by Canelo Alvarez
In strict boxing terms Saul Alvarez versus Dimitry Bivol is a contest worthy of Canelo’s annual Cinco de Mayo showpiece in Las Vegas.
It is important to point out, however, that I don’t agree with this fight. In support of Ukraine I think all Russian fighters and athletes in other sports should be banned until the invasion stops.
The opponents who have given Canelo trouble have been slick and fast, box fighters. His only defeat was inflicted by that exemplar of the type Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout were others to throw him off kilter.
Bivol is of this ilk. The only difference is he fights more like an amateur relying on his feet to get out of range rather than upper body movement.
That will be a problem against Canelo, who cuts down the ring as well as any I have seen.
His footwork is so good. Like those other great warriors expert at closing opponents down, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez, Canelo eventually drags you into a fight.
Conventional moves don’t work against him. He steps across as opponents retreat, walking them on to a right hand or a left hook.
And Canelo doesn’t miss. It might take four or five rounds to get his range but he will get to Bivol eventually.
It took him 11 rounds to nail Bivol’s compatriot Sergey Kovalev. Bivol is better defensively than Kovalev so theoretically he will be harder to reach.
He is also younger with fewer miles on the clock. But he does not carry Kovalev’s knockout power nor does he have the Krusher’s experience.
To survive Bivol has to keep the fight in the centre of the ring as long as he can. That way, in an emergency, he has at least four steps before his back hits the ropes.
But he does not want to meet Canelo there. He must fight on his terms and stop Canelo shutting off the ring.
That means controlling distance with the jab. When he sees Canelo advance he has to take a step back and then throw quickly to keep Canelo off, then step back into the centre.
If Bivol does not land cleanly he must at least catch Canelo with something. The best way to achieve that is to aim for the chest. That way he will hit some of the target and force a reset.
Ultimately we are talking damage limitation. A Canelo points win is the more likely but don’t be surprised to see Bivol dispatched in the championship rounds.