BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on May 09, 2022

Dmitry 'Rich Strike' Bivol

It was a day and night of upsets this past Saturday. You had 'Rich Strike' coming out of nowhere to win the Kentucky Derby at 80-to-1 odds. Then later that evening it was another underdog who upset the apple cart, and disrupted the best laid plans of Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sports. 

Despite being the champion, Dmitry Bivol entered the ring first at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He was then introduced first despite being the WBA light heavyweight champion. There was no doubt that Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez was the star of this show.

The 'B' in Bivol stood for B-side in this promotion.

But after 12 rounds, it was Bivol who made it his night by out-boxing, and then out-fighting the Mexican superstar over 36 minutes.

German Villasenor

At times Bivol was clinical, at others he was physical. However Canelo approached things on this night, he really had no answer for the piston-like jab of Bivol, who in the opening minutes of the contest reddened the face of Alvarez. It was evident from the very beginning that the length and reach of Bivol would cause issues for Alvarez.

Early on he tried to break the high guard of Bivol by targeting his arms and shoulders. But as those shots bounced off Bivol, in return he was facing a steady stream of jabs, and then well-timed right hands. Then in the second half of the fight, Bivol would get a bit bolder in his attack, and start to let his hands go with rapid-fire combinations. Canelo had his moments, but they were few and far between the segments that were controlled by Bivol.

Canelo put up a last stand in the 9th where he backed up Bivol and ripped to the body with all his might. But not only did Bivol withstand the attack, but he weathered it and by the end of the round was fighting back on even terms.

There would be no miracle late round KO for Alvarez, who simply didn't have the usual vitality inside that ring. This was no fluke, Bivol wasn't just the naturally bigger man inside the ring, technically and strategically he was also superior.

Yeah, he was all wrong for Canelo.

German Villasenor 

While the scores read 115-113 across the board, the reality is that this bout wasn't anywhere near that close. It's clear that the business of boxing was tipping the scales in favor of the games cash cow. But Bivol was so dominant that they simply couldn't take this away from the amiable Bivol.

While not exactly the upset of 'Rich Strike' proportions, Bivol came into the bout about a five-and-a-half-to-one underdog. Yeah, he was a respected boxer, and a long reigning undefeated world champion, his recent fights lacked the fireworks that excite the masses. He was more workmanlike than spectacular. 

But this wasn't Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders or Caleb Plant that Alvarez was facing. Unlike most boxers who look at the opportunity to face him for millions as the victory, the unassuming Bivol just looked at this as another fight. There wasn't one time during this promotion where he looked out of place, or star struck.

There is a bit of a Winky Wright quality to Bivol, who with his fuel efficient style can sometimes leave you a bit unsatisfied as he coasts to wide unanimous decision victories over relatively nondescript foes that oftentimes leave you wanting more. But against marquee opposition, they are forced to show their full arsenal of skills, and they deliver when it matters the most. 

German Villasenor

With the victory, Bivol now enters the ranks of the sports elite. The opportunities that have long eluded him, are now in reach. There is talk of a rematch (and there is a rematch clause), but you wonder if anything would really change the second time around.

Perhaps it would be best for Bivol to see who comes out victorious in the Artur Beterbiev-Joe Smith unification battle in June, and maybe Canelo goes back down to 168, where he still has a host of enticing match-ups.

That stuff can be figured out later. But Saturday night belonged to Bivol, who wasn't the only sizable underdog to shake things up this past weekend.

 

OCEANS 14

There was something very peculiar about the scorecards of Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld, who all scored this fight 115-113. 

They all scored every round identically. 

But what's really eye-opening is that they gave Canelo the first four rounds, putting Bivol in an early hole. Then the only other round scored for Alvarez was the ninth frame. So with all this, if Bivol doesn't go out and win the final round, he would've had to settle for a draw.

Folks, that would've been a Las Vegas heist. You could've called it 'Oceans 14'.

The ringside consensus is that Bivol won anywhere from scores of 118-110 to 116-112.

 

OPTIONS

So with Bivol defeating Canelo, where does that leave things for the future?

Well, as mentioned above, there is the possibility of Bivol-Canelo II. But should that not materialize for some reason, perhaps we see the third chapter between Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin at 168. That fight suddenly has a bit more intrigue given what took place this past weekend.

German Villasenor

And if that doesn't come to fruition, maybe Golovkin -- who now has the WBA and IBF belts -- can finish up some middleweight business by somehow striking a deal to face Jermall Charlo, the WBC champion.

And circling back to Bivol, if he can't get the winner of the Beterbiev-Smith, maybe he takes on Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez, who fights this upcoming week on a Golden Boy Promotions card. Last year there had been some chatter of these two undefeated boxers clashing. 

As Larry Merchant says, ''fights make fights."

 

FINAL FLURRIES

Is it time to just go with two main undercard pay-per-view bouts and spend more money on them. These recent supporting bouts on pay-per-view bills have left a lot to be desired....One boxer that did shine on that undercard was Elnur Abduraimov, the hard-hitting junior lightweight, who boxes out of the southpaw stance. He banged out the previously undefeated Manuel Correa in two rounds....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com

About Author
Dmitry 'Rich Strike' Bivol
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.