By: Sean Crose
“I really don’t know how the hell you knew it was coming,” a friend tweeted to me. This was in reference to a direct message I had sent his way Saturday night, just before the Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol light heavyweight title matchup. “I have to get this out before the opening bell,” I had admitted to him in a mad rush hours earlier. “I think Bivol wins.” This frankly represented a change in opinion on my part – a last second change of opinion no less. And the truth is it all had to do with Canelo’s ring walk. For the first time in my years covering the red haired star I got a sense of a lack of seriousness Saturday night as Canelo made his way to the ring. He actually seemed to be – prancing a bit.
It was a subtle vibe the guy was giving off, but it was clear enough for me to believe right then and there that it would be Bivol who would carry the night. And carry the night Bivol did, largely dominating the pound for pound great on his way to a stunning unanimous decision win. Not that Canelo fought poorly – he didn’t. Truth be told, Canelo might well be incapable of fighting poorly. This time, though, there would be no breaking his man down, no sudden cracks to the jaw, no favoritism from the judges – though the closeness of their scores reminded fans just how much judges adore Canelo. This time there would only be defeat.
Which in an of itself isn’t that big a deal, really. Sure, Canelo lost. But he lost fighting a bigger, stronger man in that man’s prime. This fight was always a risk for Canelo. It’s just that risks have previously paid off for the guy. That he actually suffered a defeat this time out shows this writer just what kind of balls Canelo actually has. Unlike so many current “stars” of the fight game, Canelo is willing to lose if winning adds to his legacy. That’s rare and admirable.
Ultimately though, Canelo may have been done in on Saturday night not by the highly skilled Bivol but by his own overconfidence. Not cockiness. Not smugness. Just a bit too much self assurance. Think about it. Win after win, belt after belt, division after division. The guy’s been hitting the jackpot repeatedly for almost a decade now. Who wouldn’t lapse into overconfidence after a certain point? Bivol didn’t need a lot of hubris on the part of Canelo to win on Saturday – he just needed a smattering of it. And that ring walk suggests he got it.
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