LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez, sunglasses covering some of the redness and welts that peppered his face, found himself in unfamiliar territory.
For the first time since a 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather at age 23, Alvarez sat on the dais afterward and explained how — and why — he lost.
Alvarez said the judges miscalculated — that Dmitry Bivol won four or five rounds, at most, on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. But even his promoter, Eddie Hearn, scored just three rounds for Alvarez, who lost the 175-pound title fight in dominant fashion.
There’s no shame in the loss, of course, not even for the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. All along, Alvarez said his best weight is 168 pounds, where he remains the undisputed super middleweight champion.
It speaks to Alvarez’s greatness that he was considered a 5-1 favorite against Bivol, a natural 175-pounder in the ninth defense of his light heavyweight title. The Russian boxer entered the ring as ESPN’s No. 2 light heavyweight, but there was buzz surrounding Bivol that he was far better than he was getting credit for. He simply never had the chance to prove it.
“I feel like I can come out of this fight with my head held high because I gave the best of me in a different weight class,” Alvarez said. “I’m looking for challenges that take me out of my comfort zone.”
That next challenge is likely a rematch with Bivol. Alvarez, 31, said he plans to exercise the rematch clause but that he will confer with manager/trainer Eddy Reynoso and Hearn. The Mexican boxer was set for a Sept. 17 trilogy bout with Gennadiy Golovkin at 168 pounds, but it appears that fight will have to wait — if it ever happens at all.
Canelo Alvarez, center, with his trainer, Eddy Reynoso, left, and promoter, Eddie Hearn, right, explained his loss to Dmitry Bivol during the postfight news conference. Melina Pizano/Matchroom
Hearn said the rematch with Bivol is now the biggest fight in boxing, surpassing the third bout with Golovkin. Maybe so. At the moment, it’s difficult to see what adjustments Alvarez can make to turn the tables, but perhaps the long odds will push him to new heights — and even further outside that comfort zone.
Whatever Alvarez decides is next, he is free to land whichever fight he wants. That’s a hard-earned perk accompanying his status as the sport’s top attraction.
“I’m always going out looking for difficult fights,” Alvarez said. “I’m always up for taking on new challenges.
“Tonight, I was looking for greatness.”
A victory would have made Alvarez a two-time champion at 175 pounds. His lone previous bout at light heavyweight was a November 2019 victory over Sergey Kovalev.
In that fight, Alvarez was ahead by one round on two scorecards and even on a third heading into the 11th round, when he brutally knocked out Kovalev.
Unlike Kovalev (now 39), Bivol, 31, is in his prime, and this time, Alvarez bit off more than he could chew.
Bivol, right, was able to push back Alvarez with a masterful left jab and right hand. Melina Pizano/Matchroom
For the first time in his career, Alvarez will attempt to exact revenge. And he’ll have a bit of experience to draw from. No, Alvarez didn’t lose to Golovkin, but many fans believed he did after their first meeting in September 2017 for the unified middleweight championship was deemed a draw.
One year later, when they fought in the rematch, Alvarez was declared the winner via majority decision.
“I always like to learn from things,” Alvarez said. “Today, I feel like I learned a lot, and I’m going to show you this in the upcoming fights.”
Indeed, the 5-foot-8 Alvarez might prove in the rematch that he can beat an elite fighter who is naturally bigger and owns an excellent jab capable of capitalizing on a four-inch height advantage.
Or maybe Alvarez will learn that weight classes exist for a reason and that even the best fighters meet their limit at some point.