|Canelo vs Bivol||The Fight|
|Where||T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas|
|When||Saturday, May 7, 8pm ET|
Boxing welcomes back its main attraction this weekend as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez looks to write another chapter in his remarkable career. Still only 31-years-old, the Mexican superstar (57-1-2, 39 KOs) has already won world titles in four weight classes from 154lb to 175lb, and with his most recent win - against Caleb Plant last November - became the first man to be recognized as the undisputed champion at super-middleweight.
On Saturday, the boxer almost universally known simply as Canelo jumps up a division yet again to challenge one of the sport’s premier light-heavyweights.
In Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), a Russian who bases himself in California when in training, Alvarez has avoided the type of criticism he received from some quarters for his maiden visit to the 175lb ranks in late 2019. His opponent then, Sergey Kovalev - also of Russia - was once considered a truly fearsome competitor, but many felt the 36-year-old was compromised by short notice, out-of-the-ring issues, and recent wear and tear. Canelo eventually stopped Kovalev in the 11th round but, in taking on the formidable Bivol, will be looking to silence any remaining doubters once again.
Unlike Kovalev, the unbeaten Bivol - a few months younger than Alvarez - is a fighter arguably in his prime years. Ranked as the world’s number one light-heavyweight with the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB), and number two with both The Ring magazine and ESPN, the Russian first claimed his WBA title back in 2017 and has seen off a host of good names since, including Joe Smith Jr, Sullivan Barrera, and Jean Pascal.
However, while the consensus seems to be that Bivol is a stern test for Canelo, few are going so far as to actually pick him to spring the upset. Having opened as a firm -400 favorite - or an 80% implied win probability - when the fight was first announced, the more widely-found price going into fight week was around -500 (83% implied chance). That leaves Bivol - four inches taller and with a near-two-inch reach advantage - pinned around the +400 mark, with quotes of +333 and +350 suggesting the underdog is between 20 to 23% likely to get the job done in Las Vegas.
At what odds, then, does the outsider become the value here, and why is he being so overlooked? Those looking for justification for a bet on Bivol could well point to the Kovalev bout for evidence that Canelo - already fighting well above what many would agree is his natural weight - can struggle against a much taller man. Although the end for Kovalev, when it came against Alvarez, was both violent and sudden, he did nonetheless have plenty of success throughout the fight and dictated early proceedings with his jab. At a level 6ft tall, Bivol is the same height as his compatriot, and has a similar reach. What’s more, his jab appears to be more well-developed than Kovalev’s ever was, and while the Kovalev M.O. was usually to seek and destroy, Bivol has been content to outbox his opposition from range without risking much at close quarters.
All six of Bivol’s last six wins have come on the scorecards, with his last knockout win now over four years ago — one of only two stoppages he has notched in fights with a world title on the line. With just 58% of his wins being forced inside the distance, the Bivol decision (+700, 13% implied probability) looks a logical option for any underdog bettors attempting to eke out an even bigger return on their man, and likely preferable to the +800 (11%) on offer for him to stop the iron-chinned pound-for-pound number one.
Any sensible tactical analysis of this match-up will focus on the Bivol jab, and paradoxically it is the Russian’s reliance on his left hand that could be his undoing. Key to victory for Canelo will be whether he can negate the distance and find his way inside, where - as one of the most compact, vicious body punchers fighting today - he can carry out some of his best work. If Bivol has neither the power or physical presence to deter Alvarez, it is realistic to think that he will struggle to have the fight play out on his terms. Having racked up three stoppage wins in his last three fights - and the Kovalev light-heavyweight litmus test not long before those - Canelo now sits on a staggering 39 career KOs from 57 contests (68%), and has shown he can carry his pop through the divisions. Bettors can find between +225 and +250, or around a 29-30% implied chance, that he makes it knockout #40 on Saturday night.
The layers’ most fancied method of victory, though, is the Canelo decision, an odds-on shot. A general -150 (60% implied), the industry-best quote of -138 suggests a 58% win chance. It is an angle that puts much stock into Bivol’s style and quality, as well as his ability to box to a game plan under what will almost certainly be sustained Canelo pressure, and also one that relies on bettors to discount the recent Alvarez stoppage sequence — as well as his previous, albeit sole, knockout success at 175lb.
Another useful reference point is perhaps Canelo’s win over Callum Smith in December 2020. Fought at super-middleweight, the 6’3” Smith remains the tallest opponent that the Mexican has faced and, though winning virtually every round with two of the three judges, Canelo never truly looked like closing the show in the later rounds as the Brit began to shell up and resort to damage limitation. Given his superior jab, it is quite possible that a technician of Bivol’s caliber will avoid a similarly lopsided verdict on his way to being outpointed in a close, but clear win for the A-side.
Canelo Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol free betting pick:
Canelo by decision (-138)
|Canelo||Tale of the Tape||Bivol|
Both men have been ultra respectful in the lead up to this fight. As two fighters who like to do their talking in the ring, there has been no nastiness as of yet - but that could all change as the weigh in and fight night approach.
"[Dmitry’s] a really good boxer. He’s a solid champion at 175. It’s a dangerous fight. I like it, I love that kind of challenge. I really like it. But, I believe in my abilities, and I’m strong too. So, I’m confident in that, but it’s gonna be a really good fight.
"I like the idea to be undisputed at 175. That’s what I like, but you never know."
"This is very important for me especially because I’m fighting one of the best, if not the best, in the world right now. I want people to be able to see me and my skills; this is a big fight that can give me the ability to achieve my other goals and go on if I win this fight."
The Canelo vs Bivol undercard fight looks certain to give those who arrive at the T-Mobile Arena early plenty of entertainment. The full confirmed card so far is:
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez vs Dmitry Bivol
Filip Hrgovic vs Zhilei Zhang
Montana Love vs Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela
Shakhram Giyasov vs Christian Gomez
Joselito Velazquez vs Jose Soto; Flyweight
Alexis Espino vs Aaron Silva
Marc Castro vs Pedro Vincente Scharbaai
Elnur Abduraimov vs Manuel Correa
Fernando Angel Molina vs Ricardo Valdovinos
Anyone looking for a Canelo vs Bivol live stream will need to sign up to DAZN. The fight will be broadcast through the provider in over 200 countries and can be viewed on Amazon fire sticks, laptops and smartphones.
To Win Fight
The simplest bet on boxing that we can make. All we need to do is predict which of the two fighters will be victorious. It doesn’t matter how or when they win, all that counts is that the referee holds aloft our selection’s hand at the end of the fight.