Dmitry Bivol defeats Canelo Alvarez : NPR

Dmitry Bivol, left, throws a left to Canelo Alvarez in the fifth round of their WBA light heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images


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Ethan Miller/Getty Images


Dmitry Bivol, left, throws a left to Canelo Alvarez in the fifth round of their WBA light heavyweight title fight in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Russian light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol stunned the boxing world on Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision against star Canelo Alvarez, only the second loss of Alvarez’s superlative professional career.

Normally, undefeated champion Bivol, who has held the World Boxing Association light heavyweight title since 2017, would get top billing, the second boxer to enter the ring, the top name on the card.

But Álvarez, one of the sport’s biggest draws, was not a typical challenger. Before the fight, he was ranked as the best boxer in the world pound for pound by The ring magazine. Last year, he was named the undisputed world champion at super middleweight.

So, it was Alvarez who entered the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night as a 5-1 favorite, but it was Bivol who came out the winner.

Bivol, at 6-feet, the naturally larger athlete, spent the early rounds circling away from powerful punches from the 5-foot-8 Alvarez. But Bivol then used his advantage in both height and reach to turn the tide and take the match by decision.

All three judges scored the fight 115-113 for Bivol, handing Álvarez his first loss since 2013.

“I believed in myself, I believed I could win. I knew I had hard shots and I was going to hit my body, my arm and throw the left hooks,” Bivol said in his post-match news conference.

After the fight, Alvarez said he was proud of himself for a tough fight outside of his most comfortable weight class.

“I feel like I can come out of this fight with my head held high because I gave my best in a different weight class,” Alvarez said. “I’m looking for challenges that take me out of my comfort zone.”

Alvarez is currently scheduled to return at 168 pounds for a super middleweight bout against Gennadiy Golovkin, the highly anticipated bout of the trilogy between the two fighters, in September.

But Alvarez indicated Saturday that the Golovkin fight could be put on hold for an immediate rematch with Bivol. (“Rematch? No problem,” Bivol said.)

Alvarez, fresh off a dominant career at super middleweight, was looking to become only the sixth boxer in the modern era of the sport to claim a championship in five different weight classes.

Only five boxers have won championships at five or more different weights: Manny Pacquaio, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.

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