Canelo Alvarez on his motivation, the biggest challenge against Dmitry Bivol, and his rivalry with Gennadiy Golovkin

Canelo Alvarez on his motivation, the biggest challenge against Dmitry Bivol, and his rivalry with Gennadiy Golovkin

If Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s career were to end today, he would leave with a great record and as one of the best Mexican fighters of all time. 

The native of Guadalajara, Jalisco started in professional boxing at the age of 16 and after 60 fights he has a record of 57-1-2 with 39 knockouts. His champion caste is unquestionable. 

In March 2011, Canelo won his first world championship (he was only 20 years old) when he defeated England’s Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super-welterweight title (154 lbs.). It was the first of 12 belts he has claimed so far in four different divisions. 

In November 2021, with his victory over American Caleb Plant via TKO, Alvarez made history to further embellish his career: he became the first Mexican to unify all the titles in one division (super-middleweight) of the four major boxing bodies: WBC, World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). 

Subscribe to DAZN to watch exclusive Canelo vs. Bivol fight

Canelo was proclaimed the king of the super-middleweight division (168 pounds). He is also the first fighter in history to collect all the crowns in this division in the four-agency era.

On May 7 inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Canelo will seek another belt to his vast collection when he takes on Russian Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light-heavyweight (175 lbs.) championship.

With all his accomplishments in the ring, more than $275 million in earnings in his career, and at almost 32 years of age, what is it that motivates him to keep stepping into the ring?     

For Canelo, at this stage of his career, his big drive is simply the love he has for the sport.

“I love boxing, I love what I do,” said Canelo in an interview with The Sporting News from his training camp in San Diego, California. “That’s what motivates me. And those kinds of fights (like against Bivol) and these new challenges are what motivate me to keep going. But more than anything, I love what I do, really.” 

Their upcoming bout will mark the second time in his career that Alvarez will contest a championship at 175 pounds. In November 2019, he defeated fellow Russian fighter Sergey Kovalev by unanimous decision to take the WBO title from him. 

But Bivol (19-0-0, 11 KOs) represents quite a different challenge than the one Canelo saw against Kovalev.

To start, Dmitry, 31, is an undefeated fighter who is in his physical prime. Kovalev was not in peak condition when he fought the Jalisco native. He was already in decline, and just over two months earlier, he had fought a brutal war with Colombian Eleider Alvarez.  

In terms of styles, Sergey is a shock fighter, while Bivol does not engage easily and fights behind his powerful left jab. 

Canelo is well aware of the danger Dmitry poses to his 16-fight unbeaten streak. The last, and only, time he has lost was in September 2013 against Floyd Money Mayweather. 

“I took the risk to move up in weight, more than anything. He’s a solid fighter at 175 pounds,” Alvarez analyzes about Bivol. “He’s a very good fighter who knows how to use his distance very well. He’s fast for the weight he fights at. Obviously, it’s a lot of risk for me to move up in weight with a champion like Bivol, but I love these kinds of challenges”.

MORE: Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol odds, betting trends, predictions, expert picks for light-heavyweight title fight

“It’s boxing, no politics” 

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, several sports bodies worldwide imposed sanctions against Russian athletes as a form of protest and pressure on Vladimir Putin’s government. 

Since Canelo vs. Bivol was made official in March, there have been calls for the fight to be cancelled. Dmitry was born in Kyrgyzstan, when that nation was part of the former Soviet Union. His family moved to Russia when he was 11 years old. 

The most recognized person who demanded that Bivol not be allowed to fight Alvarez was Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko. The retired former heavyweight champion has been defending his country in the war conflict along with his older brother Vitali – who is the mayor of the city of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

“Absolutely he should not be allowed to face Canelo”, Wladimir exclaimed about Bivol in an interview with the BBC in March. “Every sanction, and it’s nothing against athletes, is due to Russia’s policy. All Russian representatives, in this case, should be sanctioned, because this way we show Russia that the world is against their senseless war and that there is nothing good in this war”.

Canelo categorically rejects that the realization of the fight was ever in danger due to the petitions. For him, political issues have nothing to do with the sport.    

“I didn’t see many people asking for the fight to be stopped. I rather only saw one person who said it and it started to be talked about”, exclaims Canelo. “I didn’t even notice Klitschko’s comment until when I was told… People don’t talk. The fight is there, it’s not politics; this is boxing”.

Dislike, part of the price to pay for success?

Bivol will be the third undefeated champion Canelo will be facing in a row. Prior to facing Plant in May 2021, Alvarez defeated England’s Billy Joe Saunders by technical knockout to unify the WBC, WBA, and WBO super-middleweight titles.

Although Bivol, as were Plant and Saunders, is a legitimate champion, Canelo still faces some criticism regarding the quality of his opponents. 

MORE: Who is Dmitry Bivol? Bio, record of light-heavyweight champion and Canelo Alvarez opponent

Regarding this, the Mexican indicates that it doesn’t bother him that the fighters he steps into the ring with continue to be discredited, as there will always be dissenting opinions about him, no matter what he does. 

“There are always going to be people who will give the opposite. There will always be, always”, remarks the Jalisco native. “When there is success, there are always people who like you and people who don’t like you. But the results and the triumphs are there”. 

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Canelo and Golovkin: is it personal?

In the big picture, the bout against Bivol is the first step in another big plan for Alvarez. He intends to unify all the titles in the light-heavyweight division. Russian-Canadian Artur Beterbiev (WBC and IBF) and American Joe Smith Jr. (WBO) are the other 175-pound champions at the moment. 

But if he comes out on top against Bivol, Canelo already has his next challenge on the table and it’s not against any of them. 

He will be facing Kazakhstan’s Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin in the third fight of their rivalry. According to different reports, this fight is part of a three-fight, $160 million deal signed by the Mexican with Matchroom Boxing. 

“The truth is that I feel very good about being able to make the fights that people want and that I like to make”, Alvarez expresses. “To be able to work with everyone, to have a good relationship with all the promoters, I think that’s the best thing”.

The first two duels between Canelo and Golovkin had controversial results. The first one, in 2017, ended in a split draw in a fight that many saw GGG winning. In the second, in 2018, Canelo took a majority decision win. Many considered it a draw. It is the only defeat GGG presents on his record.   

Three weeks ago, Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) did his part to make the trilogy with Canelo happen by defeating Japan’s Ryota Murata by technical knockout.

“The truth is that I already fought him, and the second one, we won well”, the Mexican points out. “And for me, personally? I thought I was never going to fight him again, but well…. This deal happened and it’s going to be the third. This fight will be for the people, the people who want to see it”. 

In the presentation for the fight against Bivol, Canelo said that there is a personal problem between him and GGG because the Kazakh “has talked a lot of s—“. 

MORE: Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol fight date, start time, card, PPV price & odds for 2022 boxing title fight

Faced with these words from Alvarez, Golovkin has denied that his rivalry with the Mexican goes beyond sports. 

“It’s not personal,” the Kazakh mentioned in an interview with ESPN before the fight with Murata. “I got over those fights before I went back home. I don’t live in the past. If fighting me again isn’t ‘personal’ to him, why did it take him four years to decide to do it?” 

Canelo, however, reaffirms his deep “enmity” with GGG. 

“He pretends there’s nothing, but there is something personal. So many things he talked about, so many things he said,” indicates Canelo. “There is still something personal. But, as I said, I’m focused one hundred percent on the fight with Bivol and nothing else”.

When is Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol?

  • Date: Saturday, May 7 
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET 
  • Main event: Midnight ET (approx.) 

Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol will take place Saturday, May 7. The main event is expected to begin around midnight ET, depending on how long the undercard fights last. 

How to watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol

  • Live stream: DAZN

The Canelo vs. Bivol main card will air on DAZN, which will show the fight via a special pay-per-view format. 

Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol PPV price: How much does the card cost? 

  • DAZN monthly subscription: $19.99 in the U.S., $20 in Canada, £7.99 in the U.K. 
  • DAZN annual subscription: $99.99 in the U.S., $150 in Canada

Because it is a pay-per-view event, the fight will cost $59.99 for current subscribers and $79.99 for new subscribers.

Customers in the U.K. can sign up for DAZN for £7.99 per month.

You can also order the event in the U.S. via iNDEMAND: ($24.99). 

Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol fight card

  • Dmitry Bivol (c) vs. Canelo Alvarez for the WBA light heavyweight title 
  • TBA vs. Zhang Zhilei; heavyweights 
  • Montana Love vs. Gabriel Valenzuela; light welterweights
  • Shakhram Giyasov vs. Christian Gomez for the IBF North America welterweight title
  • Alexis Espino vs. Aaron Silva; middleweights
  • Joselito Velazquez faces Jose Soto; flyweights
  • Marc Castro vs. Pedro Vicente Scharbaai; lightweights
  • Elnur Abduraimov faces Manuel Correa; super-featherweights
  • Fernando Angel Molina vs. Ricardo Valdovinos; super-lightweights