Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is certainly cock of the walk when it comes to his ability to pick and choose his opposition. The four-division world titlist and current unified super middleweight champ has the drawing power (and revenue generation ability) that pretty much gives him free rein when it comes to opponent selection.
Every top fighter in the 160-175 lb. weight range is seemingly waiting on a Canelo fight and the windfall payday that comes with it.
Alvarez, meanwhile, has done well in walking the line between bankable asset and legacy-minded world class fighter. Over the last two years or so, the native of Guadalajara has fought six times, managing to unify all four world titles in the 168 lb. division in that span of time, as well as beat a WBC top contender and settle an old grudge with Kazakh KO artist Gennadiy Golovkin.
But it’s the one loss in that remarkable six-fight run that has fans wondering and guessing as to Alvarez’s plans.
Russia’s Dmitry Bivol successfully defended his WBA light heavyweight title against Alvarez in May of this year, taking a pretty decisive decision despite three oddly close 115-113 scorecards at the end of the fight.
Make no mistake about it, though, Bivol-Alvarez was not close. Bivol, unflappable and precise throughout, controlled much of the contest, utilizing his size and reach to keep his smaller foe at the end of his quick shots.
Alvarez could find no answer for Bivol’s precision and a slight hint of resignation– very unusual for him– seemed to settle in during the last quarter of the fight.
Still, of course, the proud Mexican had to save face and vow vengeance for the loss, his first since he was a 23-year-old young man losing to pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
Post-fight would indicate that he had every intention of activating the rematch clause in his contract with Bivol.
“This doesn’t end in this way,” Alvarez said after the Bivol defeat. “I’m going to come back stronger.”
But, then, no.
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Alvarez would move to a third bout with Golovkin, instead, indicating that the Golovkin deal was in place before the Bivol fight was signed and, therefore, must be honored.
“I really wanted the rematch against Bivol in September, but Eddie Hearn, president of Matchroom Boxing [who has been promoting Canelo’s last couple of fights] said that we had the contract to fight Golovkin in September, and we needed to make that fight,” Canelo told media “That’s why I’m here and I’m happy. I really wanted it, but my team and I decided to fight Golovkin.”
However, as mentioned earlier, Alvarez is the cock of the walk when it comes to who he fights and when he fights. If the man had a burning desire for “venganza,” he would’ve found a way to immediately jump right back at Bivol. He is, after all, the man who managed to have his contract terminated with Golden Boy Promotions and found a way out of an iron clad 11-fight contract with streaming service DAZN.
The hard, cold truth is that, maybe, Alvarez just doesn’t want to fight Bivol again. And, really, who would blame him?
As this writer opined in a yet-to-be posted response in Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack over at Fighthype.com (published every Thursday):
“It’s been my take all along that Alvarez does NOT want to get back into the ring with Bivol. He’s a smart enough tactician to see just how decisively he lost and how slim his chances would be of making any adjustments to get him a win in a rematch. Bivol just didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t waver, didn’t let down his guard, didn’t allow any opportunity for the smaller fighter to do what he had to do. And Canelo, as that smaller fighter, absolutely needed some openings he could exploit. None of that will change in a part 2 and Alvarez has to know that.
Of course, he had to give lip service to a return bout. But that was all to save face after a pretty decisive besting. If Canelo was burning for “venganza,” he would’ve faced Bivol in an immediate rematch, rather than fight Golovkin and now drift about with no “next opponent” locked in.
A Bivol fight is just a tough, bordering on impossible, stylistic matchup for Canelo, in a weight class where he simply doesn’t belong. I don’t think we see him try the Russian again.”
As for Bivol, he seems ambivalent to the idea of a Canelo rematch, prioritizing legacy over the money a return bout would bring him.
“My priority is for another belt…Money is good, but legacy, I think, is better,” Bivol said. “I love money too. Everybody loves money. But money is not the main thing I’m thinking about when I came to boxing, when I box. I want to make history. If I thought about money I would never be here.”
For Bivol, history means a full light heavyweight unification bout with three-belt champ and fellow Russian Artur Beterbiev.
So, yeah. Canelo probably doesn’t want that Bivol smoke again…and Bivol couldn’t care less.