Canelo Alvarez was universally considered boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter until Dmitry Bivol pumped the brakes on the Mexican star’s ascent, handing him just his second loss of his career and first defeat in nine years.
The four-division champion Alvarez is still the undisputed super middleweight champion, but in his quest to conquer the light heavyweight champion Bivol while looking to win his second title at 175 pounds, he fell short via unanimous decision.
Bivol used his size and power to outland Alvarez 152 to 84.
Ever since the defeat, Alvarez has lost a touch of his mythical stature and dropped down on everyone’s subjective pound-for-pound list, sitting somewhere in the top 10 depending on which pundit you ask.
Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) will next fight Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) in a trilogy matchup on Sept. 17 on DAZN pay-per-view in a location and venue still to be determined.
Alvarez believes he’s still at the sport’s mountaintop despite the loss to Bivol.
"The truth is that I don't know how they handle that kind of thing [in the pound-for-pound rankings], but I still feel I'm the best," Alvarez told DAZN. "Tell me another fighter who is trying in other categories, going down and up in weight, wanting to achieve different kinds of things. Nobody has done that.
"I do it. I risk everything to keep making history when I don't need to risk anything. I've already achieved so many things. I'm in a position where I don't have to risk anything, and I still do it, and nobody does that when they are in a position like the one I'm in. So personally, I still feel I'm the best in the world."
Alvarez will get a chance to prove naysayers wrong and reinsert himself as the cream of the crop once he takes on archival Golovkin, who is now 40 years old.
Should Alvarez beat Golovkin, another bout with the Russian awaits next May.
"I'm going to try again for sure [and fight Bivol]," said Alvarez. "I'm a very competitive person, very persevering. I tried to gain weight and win this championship, but we didn't make it. But we are going to try again ... only that for a second fight, I would look to be in much better physical condition, prepare myself for the 12 rounds. A different strategy to the one I used with my opponents at 168 pounds. You learn from everything. I tried new things, and it didn't work, but now we have a new guideline for what's coming."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.