Never let it be said that the boxing world is all that gracious in the aftermath of a big fight. And they’re especially NOT gracious when it comes to the biggest of the sport’s stars. As a matter of fact, boxing fandom and the boxing media is often downright giddy when it comes to a star being humbled.
This collective mental quirk has most definitely shown itself in the wake of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s upset loss at the hands of Russia’s Dmitry Bivol this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
The 31-year-old Alvarez, who is the sport’s tog draw and was almost universally regarded as the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, failed in his bid to take Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title, dropping a unanimous decision to the defending champ.
Alvarez, a 5-to-1 favorite to dethrone the WBA titlist, is still the undisputed, fully-unified 4-belt super middleweight champ. He’ll probably not fall too far down on the mythical pound-for-pound list for this try at the higher-weight title and will probably not suffer much at the box office, either.
But he sure as heck is taking a beating online.
Among a handful of high-profile boxing personalities, the reaction has been headline-worthy and more than a bit catty.
Floyd Mayweather proudly displayed his winning bet slip immediately after the Canelo loss, showing off the $10,000 bet that earned him in excess of $42,000 and going on about the “easy work” in making this score.
Alvarez’s former promoter Oscar De La Hoya also chimed in with a nasty “It isn’t too late (yet) to switch back to the best promoter” comment via Twitter. The implication being, of course, that Alvarez’s willingness to work with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn led to the rough stylistic matchup he met in Bivol.
Even former Alvarez KO victim Sergey Kovalev took to social media after the Alvarez loss, laughing giddily and gloating about the Mexican’s setback.
When it comes to fight fans on social media, the post-fight reaction has been especially harsh.
Predictably, the dedicated Canelo critics have been brutal. The 4-division world champ has been labeled over-hyped and overrated. They’ve called Bivol a cherry-pick gone awry. They’ve joked about Canelo forgetting to pay off the judges. They’ve quipped about Alvarez’s loss being caused by him forgetting to take his steroids (a reference to Alvarez’s positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol back in 2018). There’s even the lame-brained conspiracy theory floating around that Alvarez threw this fight in order to build up a rematch and avoid his scheduled Gennadiy Golovkin bout.
Needless to say, the dedicated Canelo “haters” have been having a field day with their negativity. That’s to be expected. To be honest, even if Canelo had won decisively, the critics would’ve been vocal. Bivol would’ve been a bum, a hand-picked patsy, a paper title holder, an overrated name added to Canelo’s exaggerated legacy. To those most dedicated to “hating,” nothing will win them over. That’s just the nature of the boxing fandom beast.
In reality, however, Alvarez has nothing to be ashamed about. Moving up in weight to take on, arguably, the best light heavyweight in the world (and no worse than the second best) in a bid to become unified champ in two divisions, simultaneously, was a gutsy move. It was especially gutsy when he didn’t HAVE to take the risk and easily could’ve cashed his $40 million+ paydays against safer opposition in his own weight class.
However, true competitors take risks and push themselves to new levels in pursuit of greatness in legacy. Alvarez, like most high-end prizefighters with the ability to generate money, has faced plenty of soft touches in his rise to the top and has been given preferential treatment in many of his bouts. But the man has also proven himself as someone who will take risks. His resume, which stacks up favorably against that of any present tense boxing star, shows that.
Alvarez will undoubtedly be back at 100% following the Bivol loss and the critics will continue to criticize.
In the big picture, though, he’s doing the work to accomplish big things while the critics, well, are just picking at accomplishments well beyond their reach.