By: Hans Themistode
Despite facing countless former or current world champions, Canelo Alvarez heard the complaints of his boxing fans the moment he announced he would be taking on mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on February 27th.
For the Mexican native, Yildirim will represent the first opponent Alvarez has faced since James Kirkland in 2015, who at no point in his career won a world title. Despite the arduous work schedule, fans expected a more prominent name for the 30-year-old to face.
While those from the outside continue to pile on, newly elected hall of famer in Andre Ward doesn’t have an issue with the upcoming opponent of Alvarez.
“I don’t think anybody should be upset,” explained Ward on the Ak and Barak Show. “That’s really the name of the game. I don’t care what your resume is, it’s not healthy to face a top guy fight in and fight out. You won’t last long and if you do, you’re going to have some issues when your career is over. It’s a chess game.”
For Alvarez, facing what many would consider a light touch is exactly how the script should go according to Ward. While the former multiple division champion prided himself on facing the best of the best during his career, Ward also took on several lesser opponents before gearing up to take on some of the biggest names associated with the sport.
In the case of Alvarez, he appears to be following that very blueprint. After defeating who many perceived to be the best fighter in the super middleweight division in Callum Smith, Alvarez will take on Yildirim before ultimately taking on WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders. Should things go according to plan, Alvarez could return to the ring for a third time in an attempt to fully unify the division against IBF titlist Caleb Plant. So while fans continue to moan and groan over his immediate opponent, Ward doesn’t understand what’s the big deal.
“You got to take a hard fight, maybe like a decent name like he just fought Callum Smith. Then you got to fight a mandatory. The mandatory is out of his hands so he’s got to satisfy that from the WBC. Then he’s got to face another good name in the sport like Billy Joe Saunders. I don’t have a problem with that at all.”