To say that facing Canelo Alvarez is just like participating in any other fight, is like stating that being in the Super Bowl is like playing in just another football game. The reality is that facing the Mexican star means that you are on the biggest stage that exists in boxing.
It's not just bout, it's an event. One that will have international coverage, and cast a spotlight that many simply aren't ready for.
But as WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol, prepared to face Alvarez this weekend, you got the sense that he's relatively unfazed. In his view, this is really just another assignment, albeit a very lucrative one, for him.
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports
"I don't think about it, to be honest," he told SNAC.com last month after his days training at the Joel Diaz Training Camp in Indio, California. "I just think about myself, the actual fight. It doesn't effect me -- it's just a fight. It's just another fighter."
Bivol, who is as amiable a boxer as you'll come across, did admit, "Of course, it's the most important fight, but every fight is an important fight in my career. If every champion thinks about, 'Oh, this is a great fight, I should win,' you think like that you would betray yourself.
"You should just think about, 'you should win because you are a boxer, you're in boxing a long time.'"
Melina Pilazo/Matchroom Sports
To him, this is part of the job as a world-class fighter. But what's interesting is that like everyone else, while Bivol was certainly receptive to a fight with the games cash cow, unlike most of his colleagues, it wasn't necessarily his central focus. Last fall, as negotiations with Caleb Plant went sideways for a spell, Alvarez and his team turned their focus to Bivol.
But alas, Plant came to terms with Canelo for an November bout. At that point Bivol took a December tune-up versus Umar Salamov(winning a 12 round decision), and was actually focused on facing unified champion, Artur Beterbiev, next.
As Alvarez mulled his many options at the turn of 2022, many observers were surprised that he choose the relatively unknown, Bivol.
"When I heard about it, of course I was surprised," he said. "Once I heard it was 100-percent (done) I was ready."
While many others look for life-altering money for facing Alvarez, the key for Bivol landing this plum assignment was how reasonable his side was in negotiations. Yes, this is prizefighting, but money wasn't necessarily their main focus, here. They were determined to not over-negotiate their way out of this fight.
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Sports
Vadim Kornilov, who co-manages Bivol, explained, "The terms of the fight, the way the terms are, they are confidential. But if they were not confidential, you'd realize that we did not chase the money, at all. Our goal was to get the opportunity to prove and show Dmitry's skills to the world."
Who knows how Bivol will react on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena as he stares down Alvarez in front of the biggest throng of fans he will have ever performed in front of. Or if the constant media obligations that come with being in the co-starring role of a major pay-per-view promotions will wear down the usually gracious Bivol. This remains to be seen.
While many past foes of Canelo come in with plenty of bombast and bluster, Bivol is decidedly calm and tranquil in his approach.
Like Alfred E. Neuman: What, him worry?
This is just who he is. The magnitude of the fight may be elevated, but Bivol will be the same focused professional he has always been.
"I see him relaxed every fight, this fight is not fazing him, at all," claimed Kornilov, a few hours after both fighters made their grand arrivals to fight week on late Tuesday afternoon. "I've always felt that Dmitry is very, very confident, always very stable. I think that's very important as far as the outcome of the fight. I think the mental aspect is very important. He's very well-versed with that."
(Melina Pilazo/Matchroom Sports
Bivol, despite being the natural 175-pounder(and rated second in the division by Ring Magazine in the division), is the sizable underdog coming into this contest. The consensus is that Alvarez is the best boxer in the sport. He has continually evolved since getting whitewashed by Floyd Mayweather back in 2013.
"Now he's a little bit bigger, stronger, and more confident," Bivol said of the fully matured Alvarez. He added that while he hasn't changed all that much technically, he pointed out that this version of Canelo has, ''got a lot of confidence, I think this is more important for him."
There certainly is an air of confidence with Alvarez, if not an aura of invincibility.
Many believe that eventually he will break down Bivol in the late rounds. While a smooth technician, who works off an educated left jab, and fluid in-and-out movement, at times Bivol will have to enforce his natural size and strength.
He insists, "I can hurt anyone in the light heavyweight division."
Keep this in mind, while he's certainly not feather-fisted, Bivol has failed to score a stoppage in his last six outings. There are times when he will have to make Canelo think twice about just methodically coming forward and closing ground on him.
"I'll try to do everything I need to win. If I see I should punch hard, if I see an opportunity....of course, I'll punch hard," promised Bivol. "But it's not like I'll go in the ring and only think about a hard punch, it's stupid. First of all, you have to find the key to open some doors and bring the hard punch."
Bivol is quietly confident and self-assured. To him, it's just part of the job. Nothing more, nothing less.
"Of course I could win, I just need good preparation, and believe in my skills, to be focused, and be confident," he said, matter-of-factly.
Here is this weeks episode of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and myself on Triller. We discuss last weeks big weekend of action, and preview Alvarez-Bivol:
I really enjoyed this feature that DAZN produced on Bivol, which really showed exactly the type of individual he is. My hats off to the producers...
Speaking of Beterbiev -- who has the WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles -- will face WBO belt-holder, Joe Smith, on June 18th at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden....A featherweight clash between Robeisy Ramirez and Abraham Nova will be the co-feature on ESPN that evening....Super heavyweight gold medalist, Bakhodir Jalolov, will headline the June 10 edition of ShoBox....When will Josh Taylor make up his mind about staying at junior welterweight, or moving up to 147....I can be reached at email@example.com....