BOXING

Only Floyd Mayweather had beaten Canelo but then unbeaten Dmitry Bivol left him stunned – now he may steal show on Anthony Joshua undercard

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Also on the undercard is Russia’s Bivol, who is defending his WBA light heavyweight world title against Lyndon Arthur.

Bivol won his first six fights by knockout and became world champion after just his eleventh professional fight, winning the interim title against Samuel Clarkson and then he was later elevated to full champion.

He has since torn through the division, beating everyone put in front of him, including former world champions Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr.

And then, in 2022, Bivol shot to superstardom when the opportunity arose to fight arguably the biggest star in boxing, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Canelo, who is currently the undisputed super middleweight world champion, had already previously jumped up to light heavyweight, knocking out Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO world title.

And when Bivol was chosen as his next opponent, the Mexican was a huge favourite, as he had looked almost invincible in his recent fights knocking out Avni Yildirim, smashing Billy Joe Saunders’ eyes and making Caleb Plant pay for pre-fight insults the year before.

On fight night, however, Bivol proved he is up there with the best in the sport, as he put on a masterclass to out-box Canelo over 12 rounds and win by unanimous decision.

Bivol became only the second fighter to beat Canelo as a professional, with the first being the self-proclaimed ‘TBE’ (The Best Ever), Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Boxing News: Canelo Alvarez on Floyd Mayweather and Dmitry Bivol

“Bivol controls the space so well and he’s got a great boxing IQ,” talkSPORT’s Spencer Oliver said when asked what makes the Russian so good.

“Let’s take Canelo as an example, he was going in there as an underdog, but controlled the fight from the opening bell. He works excellently behind the jab.

“The jab is his main weapon, he sets everything up with that… He dominated in a fight that many people thought he was going to lose against Canelo, who at the time was pound-for-pound number one in the world.”

This win over Canelo helped Bivol join an elite list when Ring Magazine named him the 2022 ‘Fighter of the Year’, joining boxing’s great and good like Tyson Fury, Mayweather and Canelo himself as others who have been awarded the prize.

Now, boxing fans are desperate to see a clash between him and his fellow countryman Artur Beterbiev for the undisputed light heavyweight world titles.

And Oliver believes Bivol would be a favourite for that fight, saying: “That’s an incredible fight and I do think Bivol can win that because he’s so great at controlling the space and nullifying a fighter and taking his power away…

“Bivol would start as favourite in that fight because Beterbiev is a monster and anyone who stands and fights with him, that’s his game, but Bivol won’t do that.

“He showed how good he is and how he can control a fight at range against Canelo, so Bivol would start the favourite against Beterbiev.”

Dmitry Bivol reacts to Floyd Mayweather betting on him to defeat Canelo  Alvarez

But, before that can happen, Bivol will have to get past Arthur on December 23, which he is expected to do, but it will not be an easy task, as the Brit is an accomplished fighter and he has only lost once against Anthony Yarde, who he has also beaten.

“Lyndon Arthur has earned his opportunity and served his time in the sport… Boxing is all about opportunity and it’s what you do with that and he’ll be going in as an overwhelming underdog, but some fighters feed off that and raise their game and I’m hoping Lyndon does that,” Oliver said.

“He’s excellent behind the jab as well, so it could be a battle of the jabs, but it’s all about levels in this game and it’s a massive ask for Lyndon Arthur.

Oliver continued when questioned as to whether Bivol is the best fighter on the card on December 23, saying: “Bivol’s got to be the best of the lot, he’s a pound-for-pound star right now.”

As such, if the best version of Bivol turns up on Saturday night, then he could outshine all the heavyweights and put on the best performance of the night.

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