Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol – Strategic analysis

Via Sal Arteaga: This Sunday, May 7, Canelo Alvarez will face Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light-heavyweight belt. It will be
one of the toughest matches of his career. The reason is, in light heavyweight, a division that Canelo has only fought once.

Boxers are much stronger and heavier in this division. His previous fight in light heavyweight was against Sergey Kovalev, a match that Canelo won, but one in which he struggled to win.

Sergey Kovalev had limited success against Canelo, landing more punches in five of 11 rounds and beating him with double output (745 Compubox throws). Canelo looks troubled when he looks at it
several times by Kovalev’s punches and could have been prevented from going inside and attacking at times. It’s been almost three years since Canelo last fought in light weight, and he seems to have grown into a dominant super middleweight. The question is, will he have this kind of success in light, heavyweight?

With his recent record of 168, it looks like he will be better prepared in light heavyweight this time around. His success will depend on his ability to absorb punishment and the power with which he punishes his opponents in this weight class.

Bivol is a young, mobile and powerful fighter. He will seek to eliminate Canelo by punching him with constant movement and in and out, finding ways to connect and dodge his attack. Those who have defeated Canelo in the past, have done so, by following this strategy.

It would be surprising if Bivol deviated from this strategy, and instead chose to stay in the pocket with Canelo to trade punches, turning it into a slugfest. This will benefit Bivol, only if his punches
Canelo phase, if they don’t, then he’d be better off turning it into a boxing match. If Canelo can absorb Bivol’s punches like he did at 168, it will be a long night for Bivol.

If Canelo can absorb Bivol’s punches well, his fight will be a failure and he will be able to use any strategy he chooses. Canelo wasn’t disqualified by any of the 168-pound boxer’s punching power, and if this
continues against Bivol, he will not be thwarted by any offensive/defensive strategies Bivol implements.

Canelo will be able to chase Bivol and counter his attack. For a great boxer like Bivol with style, that won’t be enough against Canelo. Canelo has faced agile, mobile boxers before. Bivol
won’t be as fast, maneuverable or slick as the fighters Canelo faced in the lightweight divisions.

Canelo cut the ring effectively enough to win against Khan, Smith, Saunders, and Plant. Bivol will look into the box and fight outside. Canelo will need to cut him off, focusing the attack on Bivol’s body to slow him down and minimize his movement. Bivol’s output mainly consists of his stab, and if Canelo can neutralize this punch by timing Bivol, his counterattack will be extremely effective.

If Bivol didn’t possess the power to dominate, he wouldn’t be able to keep Canelo around. His boxing skills alone won’t be enough to neutralize Canelo.

Exceptional agility, speed, and mobility are required to overtake Canelo
stylistically, and the only two boxers who have competed effectively are Floyd Mayweather and Erislandy Lara. Saul will have a slow start, but once he gets a hold of Bivol’s timing and rhythm, he will effectively counter him. It will be a chess match of calculated punches, but in the end the stronger fighter will win.

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