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Canelo vs Bivol score cards: Breaking down how the judges scored the fight shows Dmitry Bivol’s dominance, even with close official cards

Dmitry Bivol’s win over Canelo Alvarez was closer than it should have been on the official cards, but even those ultimately reveal his dominance.

Dmitry Bivol dominated against Canelo Alvarez, even if the judges’ total scores were close on paper
Dmitry Bivol dominated against Canelo Alvarez, even if the judges’ total scores were close on paper
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Dmitry Bivol got a deserved win over Canelo Alvarez tonight in Las Vegas, picking up the unanimous decision on scores of 115-113 from all three judges.

A couple of things about that up front:

  1. Everyone believes the scores were too close.
  2. Similar to trying to score fights off of punch totals, which we got into last week after Taylor-Serrano, a slightly deeper look into the cards can reveal a bit more, and I think the way this fight was scored still ultimately shows how dominant Bivol really was overall.

Here are the official cards:

All three judges — Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti, and Steve Weisfeld — had Canelo ahead four rounds to zero, 40-36, after the first four rounds.

That is wild, but also isn’t if you’ve been around a while. If you’ve seen a lot of boxing, you know how these things can go. This is not a defense of those things, just an admission of the reality of it. You know it and I know it. We talked about it plenty in the predictions post where, yes, we all picked Canelo, but I touched on this stuff a bit, and so did others.

Here’s something I said on Friday: “Bivol could win seven or eight rounds on your card or mine, and he’s probably not getting seven or eight rounds on two of three judges’ cards. Canelo is going to be Canelo if you let him. He will come forward, apply smart pressure, do anything he can to rack up damage — if the body and head are protected well enough, he’ll batter your arms until one of them isn’t, stuff like that — and he’ll look confident and in control at all times. I think he’ll get the decision here, and I think there will be plenty of people who argue for Bivol. This really should not be an easy fight for Canelo; if it is, either he’s even better than we think, or Bivol wasn’t as good as we thought.”

I think you can also argue those first four rounds were competitive, and we all know that The Big Star — be it Canelo or another clear A-side in another fight — tends to get the benefit of the doubt.

Personally, I had it 3-1 (39-37) for Bivol after four rounds.

So just for the sake of this conversation, eliminate those first four rounds and look at the next eight.

All three judges gave Canelo the ninth round, which I also gave Canelo. I thought he won that round, not by a ton, but it was really his last gasp at trying to turn the tide of the fight, and he went after it. I thought, and expressed live when scoring the fight in the comments of the live coverage post, that it was a Canelo round, but that he also might have used up pretty much all the gas he had left in the tank.

That’s about how it turned out. Bivol won the 10th through 12th rounds on all three cards, and on mine. And the judges all had rounds five through eight for Bivol, too, as did I.

Dmitry Bivol officially won seven of the final eight rounds against Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas, as the B-side, as the guy who clearly was not the “cash cow,” isn’t the drawing card, didn’t come in “the superstar.”

While the 115-113 cards are too close for all of us, look at it another way and you can see just how dominant Dmitry Bivol wound up being in this fight.

For the three judges to not go on autopilot — any of them! — after having Canelo up 4-0 to start this fight tells you all you need to know about Bivol tonight.

For there to not be an argument right now about Bivol getting robbed seems almost refreshing, as terrible as that is. Because that’s the reality of boxing. It’s not going to change. It never has and it almost certainly never really will.

I have long hated the argument of, “Well, at least the right guy won,” on fights that are scored badly, and I still do.

The thing that sucks about that is, OK, so a guy won 7-5 in a fight where we pretty much all think it should have been wider. What happens next time, with that same judge or judges, when 7-5 becomes 6-6 or 5-7, and someone’s whole career gets jacked up by bad scores?

Jack Catterall is out there not holding all four belts in the junior welterweight division, which he deserves, and now doesn’t even have an in to fight for a vacant title, because two out of three judges in Glasgow flat-out got it wrong.

But just for a second, I want to take a deep breath and be glad that we’re not raging and thrashing about an absolutely absurd draw or worse. We came way too close, but for just a moment, just right now ... “at least the right guy won.”