Editor’s note: This is the first of four year-end awards. Knockout of the Year, Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year will follow.
The experts had respect for Dmitry Bivol going into his fight against Canelo Alvarez on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The 175-pound titleholder was seen as an excellent boxer with a string of quality victories over the previous four, five years. He and Artur Beterbiev were the unquestioned class of the division.
But could Bivol actually defeat Alvarez?
C’mon. The Mexican superstar was unbeatable, having overwhelmed one elite opponent after another since he suffered his lone loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2013. The only exceptions were tough fights against another star, Gennadiy Golovkin.
Alvarez, about a 4-1 favorite, couldn’t lose. And then he did.
Bivol’s combination of refined technique, natural size advantage over the 168-pound champion and an abundance of confidence was too much for Alvarez to handle in a unanimous decision setback and Boxing Junkie’s 2022 Upset of the Year.
The former Russian amateur star was brilliant, calmly, coolly controlling distance with his jab and quick, hard combinations while maintaining a tight guard that Alvarez couldn’t penetrate. By mid-fight, Alvarez was frustrated, tired and out of options.
No one – not even Golovkin – had been able to do that to him since Mayweather schooled him, which is why it was so stunning to witness.
“I proved myself today,” Bivol said in the ring afterward. “I’m the best in my [division]. I keep my belt.”
Alvarez was gracious immediately after his defeat, giving his conqueror credit for a strong performance. He changed his tune, however, later insisting that he lost only four or five rounds and should’ve had his hand raised.
We know better.
The fact all three judges had Bivol winning 115-113 – seven rounds to five – was ridiculous enough. Boxing Junkie scored 117-111 for the winner, which reflected reality. Alvarez’s suggestion that he should’ve won 116-112 or 115-113 is absurd.
Bivol won fairly and conclusively, exposing Alvarez as human and bolstering his own reputation as one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound.
Alvarez has said he wants a second shot at Bivol. And, with his ability and determination, no one would be shocked if he finds a way to turn the tables. If nothing else, it could end up being a closer fight.
No matter what, Bivol will always have May 7, 2022, the best night of his career and one of the most significant upsets in recent years.
Tomorrow: 2022 Knockout of the Year
Photos: Dmitry Bivol’s unanimous decision victory over Canelo Alvarez
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