LAS VEGAS – Now that Canelo Alvarez has knocked out Sergey Kovalev, a younger, undefeated light heavyweight champion wants his shot at the Mexican superstar.
Dmitry Bivol scouted Alvarez from a ringside seat Saturday night, when Alvarez knocked Kovalev unconscious in the 11th round of what had been a very competitive 175-pound title fight. The WBA light heavyweight champion left MGM Grand Garden certain that he wants Alvarez next.
“Why not?,” Bivol told BoxingScene.com. “I think, yes, it’s the best fight for me. And he has a belt, he has a name, I can earn money with him. I can make a big name in this fight. Yeah, of course.”
The 28-year-old Bivol appears to be a more likely target for Alvarez than IBF/WBC light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev. Russia’s Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) is a harder puncher than Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) and, unlike Bivol, Beterbiev has said he cannot move down to the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds.
“I can make 168 to fight [Canelo],” Bivol said. “I would like to fight him at 168 or 175 – or cruiserweight.”
Bivol laughed after mentioning facing Alvarez at cruiserweight, which obviously wouldn’t happen. In addition to owning the WBO light heavyweight and WBA middleweight titles, Alvarez still holds a piece of the WBA’s super middleweight championship.
Alvarez might view boxing Bivol at 168 pounds as an advantage because the Kyrgyzstan native has fought at light heavyweight or slightly above 175 pounds since he turned pro in November 2014. Bivol is more than willing to challenge Alvarez at a lower weight because it’s unquestionably the biggest, most profitable opportunity possible for him.
A title unification fight with Beterbiev interests Bivol as well, but he would make a lot less money for that bout than he’d earn for boxing Alvarez. Kovalev’s total compensation package for the Alvarez fight was $12.5 million, by far the most money he has made.
Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) is 36 and had been stopped twice before Alvarez knocked him out Saturday night. Bivol still was impressed by what Alvarez accomplished as a middleweight moving up two weight classes.
“It was good performance for Canelo,” Bivol said. “Kovalev is one of the best light heavyweights. He is a big name, but he’s older than most of us in light heavyweight division.”
Judges Julie Lederman and Dave Moretti had Alvarez ahead by the same score, 96-94, entering the 11th round. Judge Don Trella had it even through 10 rounds (95-95).
“The fight was close,” Bivol said. “It’s really [close], because Canelo moved forward, but didn’t threw the punches, yeah. Kovalev threw more punches. And yeah, maybe Canelo’s punches [were] more powerful. But I think it’s close, yeah. And it looked like Canelo controlled the fight, to me.”
From what Bivol witnessed, there’s no reason the 29-year-old Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) couldn’t continue competing in the light heavyweight division.
“Yeah, of course he can fight in light heavyweight division,” Bivol said. “He has good power. We saw this. And he’s smart, he has a good defense, and he might even have a little bit of an advantage [because] of his speed. He has good speed. I saw this [Saturday night].”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.