Dmitry Bivol is picking the favorite but rooting for the underdog.
The unbeaten WBA light heavyweight titlist has openly wished for a Jermell Charlo win in his challenge of fully unified super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The pair of undisputed champions meet Saturday evening atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View card from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The same venue hosted Bivol-Alvarez last May, which saw Bivol (21-0, 11KOs) outpoint the Mexican superstar to ignite a 2022 Fighter of the Year campaign. Their light heavyweight title fight carried a rematch clause which Guadalajara’s Alvarez (59-2-2, 39KOs) vowed to exercise but is now on his third fight since their May 2022 meeting.
Bivol doesn’t expect his conquered rival to suffer a defeat versus Houston’s Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs), the undisputed who moves up two weight classes in a bid to become a two-division champion. Should that occur, Bivol will gladly revisit his prior willingness to drop down in weight.
“It's going to be an interesting fight. I think Canelo should win. But I will be happy if Charlo wins,” Bivol said on social media. “I am interested in a unification fight at 168.”
Bivol has not fought since a unanimous decision victory over then-unbeaten mandatory challenger and former WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez last November 5 in Abu Dhabi. The unbeaten Kyrgyzstan-born boxer—who lives in Russia but trains in California—is hopeful to return to the ring in December, though neither a confirmed opponent, date or location has been identified for his next bout.
Charlo has not fought since a tenth-round knockout of unbeaten WBO junior middleweight titlist Brian Castano to fully unify the 154-pound divisional titles last May 14 in Carson, California. Saturday will mark his first career fight above the junior middleweight division.
Alvarez enters his third fight since his lost to Bivol last May. The four-division champ dropped back down to super middleweight, where he made successful title defenses in back-to-back decision wins over Gennadiy Golovkin in their trilogy clash last September and England’s John Ryder on May 6 in Zapopan, Mexico.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox