LAS VEGAS — In the closing moments of the ultimate spherical of the light-heavyweight title combat between Saúl Álvarez and Dmitry Bivol, a ringside official banged a picket clapper to sign that solely 10 seconds remained within the bout.
Álvarez, often known as Canelo, retreated, exhausted after 12 bruising rounds in opposition to an even bigger opponent.
Bivol, the World Boxing Association champion and a heavy betting underdog, moved ahead, arms excessive,
One of Bivol’s cornermen clenched his fists, raised his arms and waited for the ultimate bell, satisfied his fighter, who had weathered Álvarez’s energy and responded with authoritative punches all evening, had finished a lot to earn a victory.
The judges agreed with group Bivol.
All three scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Bivol, a Russian who now lives in California, awarding him a call each closely-contested and convincing.
While Bivol entered as an undefeated champion at 175 kilos, and confronted a fighter in Álvarez who had moved up from a lighter weight class, his win qualifies as an upset. Streaming service DAZN had invested closely in a two-fight cope with Álvarez, utilizing his fights to launch its new pay-per-view program, promoting bouts on high of a subscription service. DAZN had hoped the settlement would culminate in a September showdown between Álvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, a middleweight champion who has fought Álvarez twice.
But Bivol’s win opens different potentialities, together with a rematch with Álvarez.
“Thank you to Eddie Hearn,” Bivol stated within the ring afterward, referring to the pinnacle of Matchroom Sport, which companions with DAZN on boxing programming. “Sorry I broke your plans with Gennadiy Golovkin.”
Bivol’s win improved his document to 20-0, and can pressure a number of stakeholders to regulate their plans.
Álvarez, who's the undisputed super-middleweight champion, however who entered Saturday’s mild heavyweight title bout because the challenger, was assured $15 million to combat Bivol. That determine is lower than half of the $40 million he acquired up entrance for defeating Caleb Plant final November, although Bivol figured to current a a lot more durable task for Álvarez.
At 6-feet, Bivol was among the many tallest opponents Álvarez had ever confronted, the identical peak as Sergey Kovalev, whom Álvarez trailed on the judges scorecards earlier than successful by knockout in November 2019.
But the 31-year-old Bivol is a greater tactical boxer than Kovalev, sturdy with a powerful jab and sharp timing. He entered Saturday with a 19-0 document and victories over each robust punchers, like Joe Smith Jr., and affected person boxers, like Lenin Castillo.
And he solved Álvarez by controlling the center of the ring, forcing the challenger backward at instances and standing up beneath Álvarez’s withering energy.
In Round 7, Álvarez pounded Bivol’s shoulder with a proper hand, and adopted up with a left hook. Bivol responded with a flurry of lefts and rights, which disrupted Álvarez’s rhythm even when they didn’t land.
Álvarez appeared to win Round 9 by urgent ahead, digging a proper hand to Bivol’s rib cage, and connecting with a roundhouse proper to the pinnacle. Bivol responded in Round 10, spearing Álvarez’s physique with an extended left jab, and touchdown a brief proper late within the spherical.
Between rounds, Álvarez’s chest heaved with heavy respiration. Bivol, additionally tiring however much less visibility winded, calmly took directions from his cornermen.
In the top all three judges awarded Bivol seven of the 12 rounds. Álvarez, who's now 57-2-2, stated he plans to invoke the rematch clause in his contract, however didn't complain in regards to the scorecards.
“He’s a great champion,” stated Álvarez, a local of Guadalajara, Mexico. “That’s how boxing is. I have to accept it.”
The comparatively small assure for Álvarez additionally signaled that DAZN, the streaming service broadcasting the bout, and Matchroom, the promotional outfit that organized the occasion, anticipated strong pay-per-view gross sales, which might in flip, bolster Álvarez’s payday.
Consumer curiosity within the occasion was tough to gauge beforehand.
Images of Álvarez and Bivol plastered the Las Vegas Strip within the days previous the bout, the sidewalks dotted with distributors hawking combat merchandise — T-shirts, Álvarez headbands, miniature boxing gloves within the colours of the Mexican flag. For Friday afternoon’s weigh-ins, a crowd of boxing followers, most of them Álvarez partisans, packed the plaza exterior T-Mobile Arena.
But the group contained in the constructing Saturday evening didn't threaten the venue’s attendance document — 20,062 for an Ultimate Fighting Championship combat between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier in July 2021. The viewers yawned via a lot of the undercard, whistling in derision as Montana Love received a call over Gabriel Gollaz within the co-main occasion. At instances they had been so quiet, helicopters could possibly be heard flying over the sector’s roof.
The loudest ovation on the undercard got here when Álvarez arrived on the area, sporting a shiny pink tracksuit with a silver zipper and drawstrings, with Álvarez’s initials stenciled onto one facet, and a Dolce & Gabbana brand on the opposite.
By 8:30 p.m., when the primary of Bivol’s cornermen entered the ring to attend for his or her fighter, two sections within the area’s decrease bowl sported patches of vacant seats, which stuffed in inside minutes. When the ring announcer, David Diamante, took the microphone and strode to the ring, the higher deck was nonetheless solely half full.
They acquired one thing uncommon on Saturday evening: a spectacle of Álvarez being actually challenged reasonably than the game’s largest star placing on his regular dominant present. And Bivol, together with his victory, grew to become the primary man in a very long time to make Álvarez rethink his methodical plans.