Canelo Alvarez may have seen his seemingly unstoppable momentum stymied recently, but his rare career misstep may have inadvertently pumped some wind into the sails of another fight on the horizon.
Alvarez lost only for the second time in his career last Saturday when he dropped a unanimous decision to 175-pound Russian titlist Dmitry Bivol in their 12-round light heavyweight title bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. All three scorecards read 115-113 in favor of Bivol.
Prior to the fight, Alvarez was expected to get past Bivol so that he could move forward with a trilogy with Gennadiy Golovkin in the fall. Those plans appear to be in jeopardy now.
Yet according to Eddie Hearn, the promoter of Alvarez, a third match between Alvarez and Golovkin may have received a shot in the arm because of Alvarez’s loss to Bivol, at least from a perception standpoint. Alvarez, 31, was considered a heavy favorite over Golovkin, partly because of Golovkin’s age (40) and the fact that Alvarez won the second fight. Their first meeting, in 2017, ended in a controversial draw; many observers believed Golovkin had deserved the nod on the scorecards.
Alvarez has also enjoyed an air of invincibility in recent years; he fully unified the 168-pound division last year with an 11th-round knockout of Caleb Plant and had earned a title at 175 with an 11th-round knockout of Sergey Kovalev in 2019. Alvarez is still the undisputed champion at 168.
Hearn believes that while Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) is still the heavy favorite against Golovkin, the disparity is not as great as it once was, which would presumably strengthen the marketing pitch of their potential fight.
“It’s still a huge fight,” Hearn said of Canelo-Golovkin III in an interview with IFL TV. “Funnily enough, the Golovkin fight becomes bigger now because people give Golovkin a chance of winning the fight. Before it was all like, ‘Oh, he’s 39 he’s 40, he’s not going to win the fight.’ Now people look at that performance and say, ‘OK, maybe Golovkin’s got more chance. So that’s a massive fight, as is the [Bivol] rematch.”
Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) had done his part in securing a rematch with Alvarez with a ninth-round technical stoppage of Ryota Murata last month in their 12-round middleweight title unification bout in Tokyo. Golovkin weathered Murata's onslaught in the early rounds before turning up his offense in the second half of the bout.
It is not clear whom Golovkin will face next if Alvarez ends up deciding Bivol is the more attractive fight.
Alvarez has the right to a rematch with Bivol should he decide he wants to go down that path. While Alvarez’s stock may have dropped, Hearn said, his fight with Golovkin is more alluring than before.
“If he would’ve beaten Dmitry Bivol people would’ve said the Golovkin fight, ‘he’s a huge favorite now,’” Hearn said. “He’s (Alvarez) still the favorite. It’s a huge fight. We’ll see.”