For a fighter who is just 5-foot-8 and made his pro debut at 140 pounds, you’d think there’s a limit to how high he can go in weight and still be effective. Fortunately, for pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez, he doesn’t believe in limitations of any kind.
Fresh off a 2021 Fighter of the Year campaign in which he became the first undisputed champion in super middleweight history, Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) will move back up to 175 pounds on Saturday to challenge the WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. (19-0, 11 KOs) inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (DAZN pay-per-view, 8 p.m. ET — subscribe now).
Three years after his last light heavyweight bout, when he knocked out Sergey Kovalev to claim the WBC title before vacating it immediately, Alvarez, 31, will face Bivol during the same week as his promoter, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn. Sport. he revealed that Alvarez could be willing to challenge for the unified heavyweight title if Oleksandr Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight champion, was willing to accept a catchweight of 201 pounds.
The additional heavyweight wrinkle comes just a few months after Alvarez was also rumored to be interested in challenging cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu.
I like this kind of challenge [because] it makes me feel alive,” Álvarez told CBS Sports on Wednesday. “That’s why I’m still in boxing because this kind of challenge gives me the adrenaline rush I need.
“For me, there are no limits, so I always want more. And you never know? [Fighting at heavyweight?] Maybe.”
Not enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best in-depth news and analysis, including a full preview of Alvarez vs. Las Vegas Bivol below.
Before Alvarez can consider any future offers at even higher weights, the four-division champion and pound-for-pound king must first deal with the talented Bivol, a 31-year-old native of Russia who was born in Kyrgyzstan and went on to enjoy a decorated amateur career.
Bivol is often seen as a confident fighter who relies on his footwork, defense, and technique to outplay opponents from a distance. But can he dig in and throw caution to the wind against Alvarez if the fight calls for it? It’s a proposition Bivol might need to consider after seeing Alvarez steadily pack on weight and incredibly carry his power with him.
“Sometimes if you’re doing good at something and it’s good to win the fight, you have to do it again,” Bivol told CBS Sports. “Sometimes, it’s not enough and you have to create something new and you have to take something from you deep and show it in the ring. Some opponents do it with you when you have to show more and I think Canelo is that fight where I have to show everything from. Dmitry Bivol.
“In sparring, I can do it. I have enough power. I’m 175 pounds and I think I can do everything in the ring if I want and I believe.”
Alvarez compared Bivol’s challenge to a mixed pair of recent opponents and said he expects a mix of Kovalev and Gennadiy Golovkin. But it seems that Álvarez is anything but concerned about the power that Bivol possesses. The Mexican superstar has never dropped as a pro and has only been visibly hurt once in a 2010 fight against Jose Miguel Cotto, the older brother of Alvarez’s future foe Miguel Cotto.
“No, I do not remember [ever being seriously hurt]. Never, never in my life,” Alvarez said. “Once when I fought Cotto’s brother, I felt it maybe in my legs, but I never [before or again] in my head.
“I have the perfect sparring partners for me at work, so I can adapt to that kind of style against a tall fighter.”
For Bivol, who captured his title in 2017 before making seven defenses against Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and reigning WBO champion Joe Smith Jr., the Alvarez fight represents the culmination of a lifetime journey.
“When I came to professional boxing, I told my team that I wanted to fight the best to make my own history,” Bivol said. “Canelo is the pound-for-pound king now, so it’s important for me to show myself what I can do against the best in the ring. Hopefully I can do good things in the ring.”
The card features a couple of rising contenders in different divisions. Zhilei Zhang is ready for a showdown with Scott Alexander in the heavyweight division. Zhang was originally supposed to face Filip Hrgovic, but Hrgovic withdrew after his father’s death. Zhang is 23-0-1 with 18 career knockouts from him. Also, Montana Love is back in a junior welterweight fight against Gabriel Valenzuela.
Below is all the latest information for the light heavyweight showdown taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Plus, the latest undercard news and rumors with the latest odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook leading up to a prediction and pick for the main event.
Fight card odds
- Saul “Canelo” Alvarez -550vs. Dmitry Bivol (c) +400, WBA Light Heavyweight Championship
- Zhilei Zhang -1500 vs. Scott Alexander +800, heavyweights
- Montana Love -700 vs. Gabriel Valenzuela +500, junior welterweight
- Shakhram Giyasov -340vs. Christian Gomez +270, welterweight
- Marc Castro -4000 vs. Pedro Vincente +1500, lightweight
Alvarez might deserve more credit for going out of his way to challenge Bivol than he received in any other fight amid his current streak of daring so boldly to be big. Bivol has a trap fight written by Alvarez and is statistically, according to CompuBox, among the sport’s leaders in punches landed per round and fewest overall punches landed by his opponents.
Although Bivol is not much of a knockout threat, he is an excellent combination puncher adept at playing chess for 12 rounds. He mixes body shots well and controls the terms of ranged fights as well as anyone in boxing.
The biggest problem for Bivol is that he is sometimes too happy to box at a boring pace and doesn’t tend to take risks unless his opponents force him to. Expect Bivol to control the early rounds as Alvarez looks to navigate the distance and work his way inside. The question will eventually be whether Alvarez can hurt Bivol to the body and get close enough to take him down.
If Bivol is willing to try to make Alvarez pay to advance, this is where the fight will get interesting. At some point, against the right fighter, Alvarez will find himself at an extreme disadvantage after giving up so much height and reach. One has to wonder if this is the fight where Alvarez bites off a little more than he can chew against someone so technically proficient.
No one tends to look really good boxing Bivol. If Alvarez can’t bother him with his power, there’s just as much potential for him to look just as crude and pedestrian if he gets caught in Bivol’s web of constant jabs and clean counterpunches.
All this recent talk about cruiserweight and even heavyweight is ambitious, but going cherry pick only really works when you focus on fighters with big holes in their game where the smaller fighter can use leads as bad to expose them. This just isn’t that kind of fight.
Choose: Bivol via MD12
Who wins Canelo vs. Bivol? And what accessory is essential? Visit SportsLine now to see the best Brandon Wise bets for Saturdayall from the CBS combat sports specialist who crushed your boxing picks in 2021, and find out.