Dmitry Bivol defeats Canelo Álvarez by unanimous decision in shocking upset

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Dmitry Bivol, of Kyrgyzstan, reacts after winning a light heavyweight title.
Dmitry Bivol celebrates after defeating Canelo Álvarez by unanimous decision in a light heavyweight fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday. It was Álvarez’s first loss since 2013.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol dominates against four-belt champ Canelo Álvarez in a shocking, unanimous decision victory.

‘It was my turn to lose.’ Dmitry Bivol halts the Canelo Álvarez era of dominance

Dmitry Bivol, right, punches Canelo Álvarez during their light heavyweight fight Saturday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — Canelo Álvarez had three minutes to avoid disaster, one round to knock out Dmitry Bivol and salvage what the world thought would’ve been an easy victory.

A minute into his final chance, Álvarez, the Mexican superstar fighting on Cinco de Mayo weekend, was being booed by a crowd that adored him. A minute later, Mike Tyson, sitting ringside, decided he had seen enough and left.

Álvarez wasn’t going to pull off the miracle. He wasn’t going to put the bigger Bivol on his back. Bivol was, stunningly, too good. Nothing was working. And when the three minutes were up, after Bivol connected with a few more clean shots, the question was whether the three judges would steal a win for the star of Saturday night’s show at T-Mobile Arena.

Bivol won the fight, as he should have, though by a unanimous decision that was closer than it should’ve been. Each judge scored the fight 115-113 for Bivol (20-0, 11 knockouts).

“It was my turn to lose today,” Álvarez said in Spanish in the ring after his first loss in nine years. “I don’t have any excuses. I didn’t do enough to win.”

Álvarez struck a different tone in his post-fight news conference, saying he didn’t think he lost to Bivol. “He won four, five rounds, maximum.”

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Round 12: Dmitry Bivol defeats Canelo Álvarez in stunning upset

Dmitry Bivol reacts after retaining his WBA light heavyweight title in a victory over Canelo Álvarez on Saturday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) defeated Canelo Álvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) by unanimous decision, 115-113, on all three judges’ cards. Tim Cheatham, Dave Morretti and Steve Weisfeld all saw the fight the same way.

It’s Álvarez’s first loss since 2013, when he fell in a light middleweight bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Canelo Álvarez reacts after losing by unanimous decision to Dmitry Bivol on Saturday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

“Sometimes in boxing you win and you lose. I lost tonight,” Álvarez said. “He’s a really great fighter. He manages his distance very well. I felt his power. There are no excuses. Of course I want a rematch. It doesn’t end like this.”

Bivol’s response? “Rematch? No problem.”

Round recap: An even round unfolds. Mike Tyson apparently had seen enough and he leaves his ringside seat with one minute to go in the fight. The bell rings, and Bivol feels that he’s done enough, pumping his fist in the air. Canelo climbs the ropes in the corner and halfheartedly pumps his hand too.

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Round 11: Canelo Álvarez losing steam in bid to thwart upset loss

Dmitry Bivol, left, throws a punch against Canelo Alvarez during Saturday's fight.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Canelo Álvarez eats a left hook in the opening minute. He walks down Dmitry Bivol to land a right hand on the head. A four-punch combo follows to the body.

Bivol and Álvarez’s bodies tangle, and Álvarez picks up Bivol and takes him for a ride several feet. Bivol gets him in a headlock in the final minute. But he also does real damage with his sniper-right hand, winning the round yet again. 10-9 Bivol; 107-102 Bivol.

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Round 10: Dmitry Bivol back in control vs. Canelo Álvarez

Canelo Álvarez connects to the body with a right hook and eats a three-punch combo to the chin. He gets pushed into the ropes again, and Dmitry Bivol picks and chooses one shot at a time as he pleases. It’s that kind of night for Álvarez. He could be headed to a loss because he just lost the seventh total round of the fight on my card. 10-9 Bivol; 97-93 Bivol.

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Round 9: Canelo Álvarez showing some much-needed life

Canelo Álvarez comes out guns blazing in the round. Perhaps his lifelong coach and confidant has shared a harsh word or two in the corner.

Canelo connects with a right hand that pushes Bivol back. The Russian is undeterred. He has a pep in his step but Canelo has the best moment of the fight with a minute to go, putting everything he has into each punch and knocking Bivol off balance.

Álvarez is trying so hard with his offense. Bivol’s looks effortless, but the sequence is Álvarez’s best of the fight by far. 10-9 Álvarez; 87-84 Bivol.

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Round 8: Canelo Álvarez tries to fight back

Dmitry Bivol, left, throws a punch at Canelo Álvarez during their light heavyweight fight Saturday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Canelo Álvarez seemingly has a granite chin. Dmitry Bivol is giving him everything he can handle, as he connects with a strong right hand. But Alvarez musters up enough energy to mount a mini-comeback.

He falls on the canvas gloves first as Bivol gently nudges him down. It’s the kind of push a tired fighter falls to. Álvarez did just enough to win the close round. 10-9 Alvarez; 78-74 Bivol.

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Round 7: Canelo Álvarez continues to struggle against confident Dmitry Bivol

Dmitry Bivol, right, throws a punch against Canelo Álvarez during their light heavyweight fight in Las Vegas on Saturday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

We’re past the halfway point of the fight and Canelo Álvarez is clearly getting beaten up. Dmitry Bivol was criticized his entire career for his lack of offense and he’s clearly giving Canelo everything he could handle.

Álvarez has to pull a rabbit out of his hat. We’re in Las Vegas. There is a lot of magic in the city. But can Canelo do it?

It’s looking less and less likely as the fight unfolds. He’s getting beaten up. Pretty bad too. 10-9 Bivol; 69-64 Bivol.

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Round 6: Canelo Álvarez continues to look lost vs. Dmitry Bivol

Dmitry Bivol, left, throws a punch against Canelo Álvarez during the first round Saturday.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

The crowd is sensing an upset may be brewing. They chant “Canelo” to get the fighter’s juices going. Dmitry Bivol doesn’t care. He unleashes yet another five-punch combo as Álvarez covers up.

Álvarez is clearly feeling the power. His head is flying, and his feet are not grounded after the punches land. The fans get quiet.

Álvarez connects to the body and another right hook. Bivol has not targeted Alvarez’s body at all, but that doesn’t stop him from winning the round. 10-9 Bivol. 59-55 Bivol.

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Round 5: Dmitry Bivol continues to get better of Canelo Álvarez

The first minute starts off a bit tepid with both fighters measuring each other in the middle of the ring. Canelo Álvarez fires off a combination and Dmitry Bivol answers back in a big way with a barrage of his own.

Álvarez stands back, drops his hands, and looks at Bivol like, “is that all you got?” He responds with a chopping right hook, but Bivol got the better of the round with the massive combo. 10-9 Bivol, 49-46

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Round 4: Dmitry Bivol using size advantage to pummel Canelo Álvarez

Dmitry Bivol marches forward in the fourth and fires off a lethal six-punch combination as Álvarez covers up. Bivol’s hand speed is lightning fast — and he is using his massive size to his advantage unlike any Álvarez opponent before.

Álvarez keeps looking for the uppercut and is throwing one big shot at a time. He ends the round with another amazing right uppercut. Are the judges scoring for the constant offense of Bivol? Or a big damaging shot from Álvarez? 10-9 Bivol, 39-37

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Round 3: Dmitry Bivol continues to press on Canelo Álvarez

Canelo Álvarez is four inches shorter than Dmitry Bivol and when he can’t land on the head, he targets the shoulders.

Bivol begins to attack the body. With less than a minute to go, Bivol fires off a three-punch combination. Álvarez follows up with a right hand and a massive uppercut. Bivol ends the round by pressing Álvarez on the ropes and fires off a pin-pointed right hand. 10-9 Bivol, 29-28 Bivol

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Round 2: Dmitry Bivol strikes back and takes the round

Referee Russell Mora steps in to warn the fighters for a clash of heads. Canelo Álvarez swings and misses with a looping left hook. Dmitry Bivol answers by backing up Álvarez with a three-punch combination. Bivol immediately follows with a straight right hand that clearly catches Canelo’s attention and stuns the crowd.

The round ends with another swing-and-miss left hook from Álvarez. We officially have a fight! 10-9 Bivol; 19-19.

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Round 1: Canelo Álvarez ends the round with big uppercut

Chants of “Canelo” and “Mexico” reverberate around the T-Mobile Arena as the fight begins after an electric ring walk.

Dmitry Bivol begins the round by pawing the jab as expected. Alvarez answers with wide left and right hooks to the shoulders. He immediately goes into a turtle-shell defense to protect himself. Álvarez is the smaller fighter but he’s the one pressing the action.

The first round ends with Álvarez crushing Bivol in the corner with a right uppercut. 10-9 Álvarez.

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Montana Love defeats Gabriel Valenzuela in bland fight before main event

The junior welterweight scrap between Montana Love and Gabriel Valenzuela started off with a bang, as both fighters traded knockdowns in the first two rounds as the co-featured attraction for the evening.

First, it was the Cleveland native Love who dropped Valenzuela in the final 30 seconds of the first with a right hook. Then it was the Mexican fighter Valenzuela who rocked Love with a left hook to the top of the temple.

The sequence had all of the makings of what could have been an entertaining fight, but what followed for the remaining 10 rounds was a whimper. Perhaps both fighters felt each other’s power way too early and decided to play it safe, and it was Love (18-0-1, 9 KOs) who was awarded the unanimous decision over Valenzuela (25-3-1, 15 KOs).

All three judges scored the fight the same — 114-112 for Love.

The southpaw Love mostly pawed a jab off his back foot, carefully picking and choosing his punches with precision as Valenzuela marched forward pressing the action. Combinations were few and far between, as both fighters threw punches one at a time.

Love outlanded Valenzuela 69 to 63 in the fight.

The action was clearly not enough for the rowdy crowd, as they unmercifully booed the boxers several times in an attempt to spur some action.

The promoters had to put Canelo Álvarez on the big screen and had the T-Mobile Arena deejay pump up the crowd in the middle of the fight.

Álvarez’s fight versus Dmitry Bivol is up next.

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Tale of the tape between Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol

Canelo Álvarez

Canelo Álvarez celebrates after defeating Caleb Plant in a super middleweight title fight on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas.
(Steve Marcus / Associated Press)

Age: 31 (July 18, 1990)

Hometown: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Residence: San Diego

Record: 57-1-2, 39 KOs

Nickname: Canelo

World championship fights: 18-1-1, 9 KOs

Championships: Super welterweight (154 pounds), Middleweight (160 pounds), Super Middleweight (168 pounds), Light-Heavyweight (175 pounds)

Total rounds fought: 436

Knockout Ratio: 65%

Height: 5 foot 8

Reach: 70.5 inches

Weight: 174.4 pounds

Stance: Right-handed

Manager / Trainer: Eddy Reynoso

Turned Professional: 2005

Notable wins: Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders, Callum Smith, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, Rocky Fielding, Gennady Golovkin (one draw as well), Julio César Chávez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Josesito López, Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintrón and Matthew Hatton.

Notable loss: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Dmitry Bivol

Dmitry Bivol celebrates defeating Sullivan Barrera in a WBA light heavyweight fight.
Dmitry Bivol celebrates defeating Sullivan Barrera in a WBA light heavyweight fight in New York in 2018.
(Adam Hunger / Associated Press)

Age: 31 (December 18, 1990)

Hometown: Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan

Residence: Indio

Record: 19-0, 11 KOs

Championships: Light-Heavyweight (175 pounds)

Total rounds fought: 148

Knockout Ratio: 57.8%

Height: 6 feet

Reach: 72 inches

Weight: 174.6 pounds

Stance: Right-handed

Trainer: Joel Diaz

Manager: Vadim Kornilov

Turned Professional: 2014

Notable wins: Joe Smith Jr., Jean Pascal, Sullivan Barrera

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Shakhram Giyasov drops Christian Gomez three times, scores unanimous decision win

Shakhram Giyasov, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist for Uzbekistan, came out golden Saturday night against Christian Gomez, knocking down the Mexican fighter three times in their 10-round welterweight bout to score a unanimous decision victory.

Making his 147-pound debut, Giyasov (13-0, 9 KOs) was awarded scores of 99-88 twice and 98-89 against Gomez (22-3-1, 20 KOs), a rough and rugged outmatched challenger who looked admirable and competitive in defeat.

Giyasov outlanded Gomez 100 to 82, according to punch counts by CompuBox. Gomez landed more power shots — 57 to 52 — but Giyasov kept the fight at bay with a strong jab.

Giyasov got going midway through the fourth, knocking down Gomez with a looping left hook in the middle of a flurry in which both boxers were going at one another’s heads. Giyasov pressed the action and tried to further hurt Gomez, but the Mexican fighter was game for more.

Giyasov’s left eye was cut in the fifth.

The fight picked up again in the seventh round when Giyasov knocked down Gomez for a second time with a right uppercut. It was the wake-up call Gomez needed, as he bounced back and hurt Giyasov as well, causing the Uzbek fighter to forcibly hold.

Gomez hit Giyasov with another vicious uppercut in the eighth round, forcing Giyasov to desperately hold once again, as he was clearly hurt.

Giyasov dropped Gomez a third time 30 seconds into the 10th round with a right uppercut.

Gomez got up and managed to fight to the final bell.

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Carin León to sing Mexican national anthem ahead of Canelo Álvarez’s fight

Mexican singer, songwriter and guitarist Carin León will be singing the Mexican national anthem Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas before the light heavyweight championship fight between Canelo Álvarez and Dmitry Bivol.

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Zhilei Zhang knocks out Scott Alexander in the first round

Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (24-0-1, 19 KOs) kicked off the pay-per-view portion of the event by blasting out Scott Alexander (16-5-2, 8 KOs) to score a first-round knockout.

Zhang connected with a straight left hand that ultimately marked the end for Alexander, who collapsed like a pile of bricks with his eyes rolling back. Referee Robert Hoyle waved off the fight at the 1:54 mark of the round.

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Marc Castro scores unanimous decision win against Pedro Scharbaai 

Marc Castro gestures toward the crowd.
(Roger Steinman / Associated Press)

Fresno-based lightweight phenom Marc Castro (7-0) continues to show up and show out during Canelo Álvarez’s undercards.

Castro (7-0, 5 KOs) entered the ring to a loud ovation at the T-Mobile Arena, and he carried the momentum into his fight against Pedro Scharbaai (7-5-1, 2 KOs), outboxing the Puerto Rican for six rounds to score a unanimous decision win with scores of 60-54 from all three judges.

Castro outlanded Scharbaai 145 to 59 and averaged 81 punches with 24 landing per round, according to CompuBox. Castro hit paydirt by especially focusing on the body, connecting with 45 punches to the solar plexus of Scharbaai, who countered with a meager four.

It marked the third time the 22-year-old Castro was fighting on an Álvarez undercard. Castro made his pro debut as the co-feature of Álvarez’s win against Callum Smith in 2019.

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Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol undercard action gets underway

Fernando Molina (8-0, 3 KOs) kicked off the night by recovering from a sixth-round knockdown to score a split decision victory against Ricardo Valdovinos (8-2, 5 KOs) in their six-round bout.

Uzbekistan southpaw Elnur Abduraimov (9-0, 8 KOs) knocked down the previously unbeaten Manuel Correa (11-1, 7 KOs) three times to score a second-round stoppage win.

In a battle between unbeaten prospects, Aaron Silva (10-0, 7 KOs) stopped Alexis Espino (9-1-1, 6 KOs) in the fourth round. Silva hurt Espino one minute into the round and reeled off an unanswered barrage to the head and body until referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the fight with Espino still on his feet.

Joselito Velazquez (15-0-1, 10 KOs) dropped and stopped Jose Soto (15-2, 6 KOs) to score a sixth-round technical knockout victory to end the non-pay-per-view portion of the event.

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Who will win Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol? Experts offer their predictions

Canelo Álvarez and Dmitry Bivol face off next to promoter Eddie Hearn during a ceremonial weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
Canelo Álvarez, center left, and Dmitry Bivol, center right, face off next to promoter Eddie Hearn during a ceremonial weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

A wide range of boxing experts explain who they think will the Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol Saturday night in Las Vegas.

“Dmitry Bivol is a legitimate light heavyweight in his prime with good boxing skills and a slightly awkward style. But Canelo Álvarez is a master at breaking down styles and finding a way to win. I think Bivol fights conservatively and doesn’t give Álvarez a lot of openings. It won’t be the most compelling fight, but I see Álvarez outworking him and winning a unanimous decision.”

— Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports boxing and MMA columnist

“There are many reasons to be intrigued by this fight. To start with, I would not agree with some of the far-flung criticism of Canelo Álvarez’s whirlwind 2021, in which he obtained the first-ever undisputed super middleweight title. I’ve seen his opposition in those four fights described as bums, and that’s a big-time stretch. That said, and with that in mind, it’s totally fair to consider Dmitry Bivol a more dangerous opponent than anyone Álvarez faced last year. For one, he seems pretty dangerous, he’s undefeated and, key point, he’s bigger than Canelo. That could present all sorts of strategic adjustments, none of which will present an easy answer until fight night. I think back to Manny Pacquiao versus Antonio Margarito often when I think of fighters moving up in weight. Pacquiao was undoubtedly impressive that night. But the jump, even with the catchweight, left quite a mark on him as well. There’s always a point of, ‘How high is too high?’ ‘How big is too big?’ I imagine Álvarez’s management sees a lighter-punching light heavyweight in Bivol — 11 KOs in 19 victories, and, importantly, the last six by decision. They see this as a smart foray back into the light heavyweight division against a fighter who’s in his prime and who potentially presents a significant victory to add to boxing’s most impressive resume. But with four fights in 12 months that took place from the end of 2020 to the end of 2021, the toll those potentially took on his energy and focus, the jump in weight, the game opponent and everything combined, there seems to be a real chance that this could go sideways for Canelo, too. That said, the bet here is Álvarez figures out another puzzle and wins by decision, setting up a light heavyweight run after first facing Gennadiy Golovkin at 168 pounds later this fall.”

— Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated senior writer

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Betting odds for Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol

Gamblers looking to make a buck by betting on Canelo Álvarez will have to dig deep into the bank account.

Although Álvarez is the challenger to Dmitry Bivol’s light heavyweight title, he’s listed as a -500 betting favorite, according to BetMGM. Bivol is a +375 betting underdog.

Betters can have more value in choosing the method of victory. Álvarez winning by decision is listed at -120.

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Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol PPV undercard

Montana Love, left, and Gabriel Valenzuela pose next to promoter Eddie Hearn during a weigh-in Friday
Montana Love, left, and Gabriel Valenzuela pose next to promoter Eddie Hearn during a weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

The undercard for Canelo Álvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol will feature a series of milquetoast matchups.

The good news? That potentially allows you more time to prepare micheladas and carne asada before the main event ring walk begins around 8:30 p.m. PDT.

Here’s how the secondary action will unfold, with the four-fight main event set to begin at 5 p.m. PDT

  • Zhilei Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs) vs. Scott Alexander (16-4-2, 8 KOs); heavyweight
  • Montana Love (17-0-1, 9 KOs) vs. Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela (25-2-1, 15 KOs); super lightweight
  • Shakhram Giyasov (12-0, 9 KOs) vs. Christian Gomez (22-2-1, 20 KOs); welterweight
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Who is Dmitry Bivol and can he be Canelo Álvarez’s cryptonite? 

Dmitry Bivol poses during a ceremonial boxing weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
Dmitry Bivol poses during a ceremonial boxing weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

When Dmitry Bivol turned professional in 2014, Canelo Álvarez was already a world champion and household name who’d beaten the likes Shane Mosley Jr., Austin Trout, and Erislandy Lara and suffered his lone career defeat in a lucrative fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) is just six months younger than Álvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs), who will turn 32 in July. Although he’s a decorated amateur fighter with 283 amateur matches under his belt, Álvarez, who turned pro at 14, has three times more professional experience.

Bivol was born in Kyrgyzstan to a Moldovan father and a Korean mother and has been boxing since the age of five. He moved to Russia at the age of 11. He will be looking to land his 20th career win, a feat Álvarez accomplished in 2008 as a 16-year-old.

Bivol trains in Indio with respected coach Joel Diaz.

He picked up the WBA light heavyweight crown he currently owns in an interim fashion in 2016 and has been the full titleholder of the belt since 2017.

Bivol has defended his title against strong opposition including Sullivan Barrera, Jean Pascal and current 175-pound WBC champion Joe Smith Jr.

The knock on Bivol is that he lacks prolific knockout power and his fights tend to drag out due to his technically proficient style. Bivol has a strong jab, but he hasn’t kicked his offense into second gear in fights he’s comfortably winning against inferior opposition.

Although showcasing superior skills and scoring unanimous decisions in each bout, Bivol has not scored a knockout victory in his last six fights spanning four years.

Bivol’s bland style has not garnered much fanfare — he doesn’t have a known nickname, which is hard to do even by boxing standards.

Bivol will certainly make a name for himself if he comes close to beating Álvarez.

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How to watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol

Boxers Canelo Álvarez and Dmitry Bivol pose with their title belts as promoter Eddie Hearn and trainer Eddy Reynoso look on.
Canelo Álvarez, second from left, and Dmitry Bivol pose with their title belts Wednesday in San Diego. Also pictured: Álvarez’s trainer Eddy Reynoso, far left, and promoter Eddie Hearn.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — Canelo Álvarez’s fight against Dmitry Bivol can be streamed on DAZN pay-per-view. To buy the event, you either need a $19.99 monthly subscription or a $149.99 yearly subscription to DAZN to have the ability to purchase the fight for an extra $59.99. DAZN has also partnered with Barstool Sports to provide an alternative broadcast featuring some of the media company’s talent.

If digital subscriptions aren’t your thing, the event will also be distributed to cable companies via, iNDemand’s new streaming PPV platform, for $79.99. will also be hosting a live bilingual chat for those seeking a second-screen experience.

Tickets to attend the fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas are still available and start at $400.

If you’re more of bar and restaurant type of fan, Joe Hand Promotions has a complete list of establishments that are serving up the fight across the country.

Also, Fathom Events will be screening the card in movie theaters in select markets across the United States — including three locations throughout Los Angeles.

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Canelo Álvarez brushes off controversy, others ignore it on eve of Dmitry Bivol bout

Canelo Álvarez stands next to Dmitry Bivol and Eddie Hearn during a weigh-in
Canelo Álvarez, left, and Dmitry Bivol, right, pose next to promoter Eddie Hearn during a ceremonial weigh-in Friday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS — The main attraction, the reason thousands of fans withstood a broiling, shadeless, 97-degree afternoon for hours Friday, emerged in pink silk Dolce and Gabbana pajamas.

Canelo Álvarez is technically the challenger for his fight Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, but the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world was given the champion treatment for the weigh-in.

He was presented to the crowd second after a long-winded introduction from the event’s emcee before he stepped on the scale wearing pink Dolce and Gabbana boxers, weighing in at 174.4 pounds for his second career light-heavyweight fight. A mariachi played behind him. The Mexican fighter’s red, white and green sea of fans roared whenever possible.

It was the celebration before the celebration, before the 31-year-old Álvarez steps into the ring for another Cinco de Mayo weekend Vegas special and another presumed victory. His opponent, Dmitry Bivol, isn’t being given much of a chance.

Bivol, 31, is undefeated, an eight-time defending champion with a good jab and significant size advantage, but he isn’t a draw. He’s relatively unknown. If anything, he’s best known for something nobody around the event seems willing to talk about.

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Hernández: Who is Canelo Álvarez fighting? Who cares? It’s Cinco de Mayo in Vegas

Boxer Canelo Alvarez wears sunglasses and stands facing a poster promoter his fight with Dmitry Bivol.
Boxer Canelo Alvarez arrives for an event in advance of his fight against Dmitry Bivol on March 2 in San Diego.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Secure the right venue on the right date and the opponent becomes almost irrelevant.

Oscar De La Hoya knew this.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. knew this.

And now, Canelo Álvarez knows this.

After a pandemic-imposed two-year absence, boxing has returned to Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend.

The peculiar desert metropolis is welcoming back one of its more established sports traditions on Saturday when Álvarez headlines a show at T-Mobile Arena.

“I’m happy to be here representing my country on an important date,” Álvarez told reporters in Spanish earlier this week.

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