“Today, I was the counterpuncher,” Bivol explained.
Bivol continued to spear lvarez with jabs to the body and head with his left hand. Throwing left hooks to finish five-punch combos had an effect that statistics couldn’t measure. Lvarez would lean back when Bivol threw a punch, and Bivol’s fist would whistle past his chin. The strikes didn’t always connect, but they kept lvarez from counterpunching and let Bivol to return to his favoured range.
Bivol maintained punching late in the fight, when his prior lvarez opponents had faded. In Round 11, he delivered a jab followed by a right hand that caused lvarez’s head to sweat. Another hard jab caused lvarez to retreat and recover in Round 12. He was out of breath by then, having expended all of his energy on powerful blows that had failed to startle Bivol.
In English, Bivol said, “He only threw strong punches.” “He seemed a little weary after the strong blows. “I’m exhausted.”
The loss was Álvarez’s first since September 2013, when Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat him by decision, but it does not necessarily diminish him. Before the fight, Álvarez acknowledged Bivol would be much tougher than previous opponents, and afterward he said gaining weight to fight as a light heavyweight might have slowed him.
“I feel proud. I got out of my comfort zone,” Álvarez said. “I don’t feel ashamed because I look for challenges that other people don’t because they’re scared to lose.”
From here, Álvarez could invoke the rematch clause in his contract with Bivol or defend his titles at 168 pounds.
And two big obstacles stand between Bivol and fights for the undisputed light-heavyweight title.
First, Artur Beterbiev who holds the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles, and Joe Smith Jr., the World Boxing Organization champion, are signed to Top Rank. A deal with either of them requires cooperation between promoters that happens only sparingly in this sport. Álvarez, in contrast, has one more bout on his short-term contract with DAZN and Matchroom. Second, an Álvarez rematch will pay him better, especially now that Bivol has the one credential he did not have heading into Saturday’s bout: a win over the biggest name in boxing.
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