Canelo Alvarez needs to make a fast decision whether he wants to stay on the September 18th date to face WBA light heavyweight champion Dimitry Bivol as a replacement for Caleb Plant or go in a different direction to face someone else like Carlos Gongora, Zach Parker, or David Morrell Jr.
Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs) is flexible on the weight, according to his manager Vadim Kornilov. He can come down to 168 to face Canelo if desired.
Given that Canelo has so little time to add weight to fight Bivol at 175, fighting the Russian at 168 would be an excellent alternative. If Canelo knew he would fight at 175 all along, he would have already been bulking up, but that’s not the case here.
The only downside for Canelo fighting Bivol, 30, at 168 is that he wouldn’t get a chance to capture his WBA light heavyweight title. Moreover, Canelo wouldn’t receive as much credit for beating Bivol if the Russian fighter boils down to 168 to fight him.
It’s unclear whether that would bother Canelo. Beating Bivol would be a huge victory no matter what weight the fight is contested at. But if Canelo were to defeat Bivol at 175 to capture his WBA title, the next natural move for the Mexican star would be to face IBF/WBA 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev in a unification fight, which would be a big deal.
If Canelo beats Bivol and Beterbiev, he would only need to defeat WBO 175-lb champion Joe Smith Jr to become the undisputed champion.
It would certainly be interesting if Canelo were to capture all four belts at 175 instead of doing it at 168, which appears to be not possible at the moment given the contractual disagreements he had with IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant.
“Told that Eddie Hearn working to broker the deal. ‘I’m always up for a challenge and fighting the pound-for-pound best champion is a challenge I would be motivated for,’ Dimitry Bivol said in a prepared statement relayed by [manager Vadim] Kornilov,” said Lance Pugmire @pugboxing.
“Just spoke to Dimitry Bivol manager Vadim Kornilov, who told me Bivol can be ready to fight Canelo Sept. 18 but needs to know if cutting to 168 pounds ‘sooner rather than later,'” said Pugmire.
As long as Canelo is ready to face Bivol on September 18th, the fight likely can be put together quickly by Eddie Hearn, who promotes both guys. Canelo needs to decide whether he’s ready for this kind of step up in both weight and class.
Most boxing fans would agree that Bivol is on another level than Caleb Plant in terms of talent, power, and size. It would take some readjustment on Canelo’s part to deal with the size and the talent of Bivol.
Going into a fight with Plant, Canelo would have been a big favorite because he was more of a belt-holder type of champion. The fighters at 168 who would give Canelo problems are David Benavidez, David Morrell Jr, and Carlos Gongora.
Bivol might be better than all of those guys, making it a tough decision for Canelo to take the fight. As long as Canelo understands the real possibility of him losing, he should take the fight.
It’s been several years since Canelo fought someone talented enough to be viewed as having a real shot at beating him.
“Bivol is looking for that legacy fight as well. We’ll have to see what happens over the next few days,” said Eddie Hearn to ESPN on Thursday.
“It’s the unknown, isn’t it? How good is Dmitry Bivol? For a long time, many people felt he was the best light heavyweight in the world. But he hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase that against elite opposition. Is this the moment? … He’s [Bivol] young, he’s fresh, and he’s extremely motivated.”
The upside for Canelo facing Bivol would be massive. Bivol might even be a level above Gennadiy Golovkin in talent, and he would be a big threat to Canelo. If Canelo beats a talent like Bivol, it would further cement his legacy in the sport.