The Canelo vs Bivol undercard has fully wrapped up, with Montana Love, Shakhram Giyasov, Marc Castro, and Zhang Zhieli picking up victories on the pay-per-view portion of the undercard.
All that’s left now is the main event between Canelo Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol.
Here’s a rundown of the action we saw on the PPV undercard.
Montana Love UD-12 Gabriel Gollaz
A debatable outcome, maybe, but not one I’d say has any big controversy. Love (18-0-1, 9 KO) won on unanimous scores of 114-112 from all three judges. Wil Esco’s unofficial card for us was 115-111 Love, and I had it at 113-113 on my unofficial card, for whatever it’s worth.
Love and Gollaz (25-3-1, 15 KO) both had their success, and both found it a tough style matchup in the moments where the other man’s style was working. Nobody ever really built that sincere momentum where what they did well took over the fight, if that makes sense. Love dropped Gollaz in the first round, Gollaz dropped Love in the second round, and from there they had swings in that momentum, but also none of them wildly dramatic, and the fight never caught fire despite being competitive throughout.
I think the official scores are fair. I think anything up to 115-111 on either side might have been fair depending on what you liked better round to round.
Love, 27, is someone Matchroom think can be in line to fight for a 140 lb world title by 2023, and as long as he doesn’t lose a fight by then, they’re probably right. He’s got the right backing, he now has the IBF “North American” title, which means nothing other than giving him some help in their rankings. Those belts likely will go vacant soon whenever Josh Taylor gets around to giving them up and officially moving to 147. Love won’t be in line for a vacant title fight unless something dramatically changes, but yeah, by next year is very doable.
Gollaz, also 27, can take something from this, and know he’s still in the game. He’s a pretty good fighter, made his name a bit by going over to the UK and beating Robbie Davies Jr in Feb. 2021, and definitely was competitive here. It’s a division that, again, is set to really open up.
Shakhram Giyasov UD-10 Christian Gomez
A clear win for Giyasov (13-0, 9 KO), as he dropped Gomez (22-3-1, 20 KO) three times and got scores of 98-89, 99-88, and 99-88. Bad Left Hook’s two unofficial cards were both 98-89, as well.
But I still think you can have some questions about Giyasov from this. Gomez is no top contender, he’s No. 63 in the world at BoxRec; as always, not saying that’s a perfect system, but it gives you a good idea of fighters beyond the top 10, top 15 sort of thing that, in some order, people generally agree on overall. Gomez made this a good fight, though, in spite of what the scores will lead you to think, and he was dangerous throughout. He hurt Giyasov with an uppercut late in the seventh, after he’d been dropped in that round. With more time, he might have done something special. He didn’t have the time, though. That’s life.
Giyasov, a 28-year-old welterweight from Uzbekistan, has that sort of style that the Uzbek amateur standouts who have gone pro display a lot these days; I call it an “arrogant” style, but I don’t fully mean it as a negative criticism, either. It’s fun to watch, and they come by the arrogance in their style honestly, because they truly believe they’re better than their opponents. They box well but also take some risks. Those risks leave them open. We saw it with Bektemir Melikuziev against Gabriel Rosado, we saw glimpses of it here with Giyasov against Gomez.
All that said, yes, Giyasov can fight. So can Melikuziev. All those guys can. And the style gives vulnerabilities, which makes for excitement. So for me, fight that way, it’s fun to watch. But there are bigger tests coming than Christian Gomez if Giyasov is to get to the top of the welterweight division.
Marc Castro UD-6 Pedro Vicente
Matchroom and Eddie Hearn are clearly fascinated with Castro, the 22-year-old lightweight prospect from Fresno, and there are reasons for that. Now 7-0 (5 KO), he has obvious talent, he was a standout amateur if not exactly an Olympic gold medal type, and he has a pleasing style, fights to impress the fans.
Maybe, though, he fights a bit too much to impress the fans at times, and obviously there’s still a lot of work to do. But he won this fight clean and clear, sweeping all three cards 60-54, against a game Vicente (7-5-1, 2 KO), who didn’t have the power to deter Castro even when he did land clean, and he definitely did land clean, because the biggest early red flag on Castro may be that he’s not the most defensively responsible fighter. That got him dropped in his previous fight, though he did show grit and an ability to handle adversity by getting up to win clearly.
This fight was really a prelims-level fight, but again, Matchroom are very high on Castro and want him in the spotlight, even in fights where he’s not being challenged at all. He’s sort of like an American Campbell Hatton without the built-in fan base from a famous last name but with more amateur pedigree, getting spots that open him up to criticism that might be a little unfair for the level he’s at, and might not come if he were lower on the card where less people are paying attention.
Zhang Zhilei KO-1 Scott Alexander
An easy, quick KO for Zhang, who was originally meant to fight Filip Hrgovic in an IBF eliminator, but Hrgovic pulled out late due to the passing of his father this week. That’s a fight everyone hopes will be rescheduled, as Zhang was actually willing to get in a damn ring with Hrgovic after several other fighters of note passed on the eliminator chance.
Zhang (24-0-1, 18 KO) didn’t have the opponent he wanted, but did what you’d want him to do here. Alexander (16-5-2, 8 KO) had never been stopped in his pro career, and had come off the canvas and showed some real heart in prior fights, but a straight left hand from Zhang ended this one in 1:54. There’s a first time for everything.