By: Hans Themistode
Some people believe it will be Caleb Plant. Others are under the impression that David Benavidez will be the one to get it done. A small contingent of fans speculates that Gennadiy Golovkin will eventually knock him off his high horse.
Regardless of how great any of those fighters are, promoter Eddie Hearn doesn’t believe any of them have much of a chance against unified super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. That said, he knows exactly who can get the job done.
“I’ll tell you one thing, if there’s anyone in the division that will beat or could beat Canelo Alvarez, I think it’s Billy Joe Saunders,” said Hearn during an interview with Fight Hub TV.
Hearn’s confidence in the WBO super middleweight titlist isn’t simply because of his undefeated record. No, having spent years watching Saunders over the course of his career, Hearn has witnessed the British product outbox opponents without seemingly breaking a sweat. That, and his tendency to not care who he’s facing on any night, is the reason why Hearn is firmly standing in his corner.
“He has the style and movement. He also has something different in his head, no fear. He’s an underdog in the fight of course but he’s a bit crazy. He won’t have fear and he’s slick.”
In just a few short months, Hearn will find out if he was spot on in his predictions, or if Alvarez will move one step closer to becoming the first undisputed super-middleweight of all time.
First things first however, Alvarez has to take care of business this Saturday night against Avni Yildirim at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Florida. While most are expecting the Turkish native to get annihilated, Hearn believes he has more than just a puncher’s chance.
“With Yildirim, no fear, he’ll let his hands go but that’s very dangerous. Yildirim can punch and has plenty of heart and guts. I know he’s a massive underdog but he’s not coming to survive. He knows the only way to beat Canelo is to fight fire with fire.”
Still, even with Hearn singing his praises, the long-time promoter ultimately believes that at some point, Alvarez will score the knockout win which would then subsequently lead to a unification contest between Alvarez and of course, Saunders.
“When Canelo knocks him out, we’ll go in the ring and celebrate.”
By: Hans Themistode
If you were to ask around, it’s as though Canelo Alvarez is facing someone who is stepping into the ring for the first time in their life. Oddsmakers, fans and media personnel have essentially given mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim no chance of winning when the two face off at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Florida this Saturday night.
While Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) appreciates all of the support, he is paying little to no attention to it. With major upsets spread across boxing history, the Mexican star shows no interest in adding his name next to the likes of Mike Tyson and Anthony Joshua when they slipped up as huge favorites against James “Buster” Douglas and Andy Ruiz Jr. in 1990 and 2019 respectively.
To avoid the sort of upset that would make him place his head down in shame, Alvarez is viewing Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) as the exact opposite of how most analyze him.
“Avni Yildirim is a great fighter,” said Alvarez during a recent interview with IFL TV. “He’s very strong and comes forward so we have to be very alert. I’m not overconfident, I prepared very well. I don’t underestimate any opponent so I’m here and very prepared.”
Yildirim’s long-shot odds are due to various reasons. For starters, the Turkish native simply hasn’t been in the ring often. It’s been two years since he was seen walking through the ropes and roughly two and a half since he’s picked up a win.
At no point has Yildirim ever shown the ability to compete at an elite level, case in point would be his 2017 third round stoppage loss against Chris Eubank Jr. in 2017.
Alvarez, by and large, is viewed as the best fighter in the world. In his last ring appearance, which came just a few months ago at the end of 2020 against Callum Smith, was about as one-sided a championship match as you’ll see. Despite Smith being highly rated and holding onto both the WBA and Ring magazine super middleweight titles, Alvarez had little trouble handling him.
With the numerous world titles draped around the shoulders of Alvarez, along with global recognition as the best fighter in the world, it comes as no surprise that just about everyone expects him to take care of business this Saturday night.
Yet, even with most of the public overlooking Yildirim, Alvarez continues to preach that he is taking him seriously. With that being said, when asked if he can knockout his man come fight night, the pound-for-pound star flashed a bright smile before giving his answer.
“Yes, absolutely I can do it.”
By: Hans Themistode
Super middleweight contender Avni Yildirim has essentially become an afterthought. His upcoming showdown against the consensus best boxer in the world in Canelo Alvarez has already been chalked up as a loss.
In addition to what round Yildirim will be knocked out in, fans are already discussing how Alvarez will fare in his matchup against Billy Joe Saunders. The doubters however, don’t bother Yildirim or his trainer Joel Diaz. They simply ask that you don’t jump out of your seat once they take care of business in a few short weeks.
“Avni may be an underdog but he doesn’t care what anybody says,” said his trainer Joel Diaz. “He’s fighting for his country and he’s going to shock the world. This guy is not only a gym rat and a hard worker, but he’s a smart fighter, he loves learning. It doesn’t matter how hard the work is, he never complains.”
Yildirim, of course, is an overwhelming underdog against Alvarez come February 27th. In the mind’s eye of many, the Turkish native is fortunate to be in the position he is in today. Having been out of the ring for two years, Yildirim hasn’t officially won a fight since 2018. In his most recent ring appearance, Yildirim came up just short in his first bid to become a world champion. However, the loss wasn’t without a bit of controversy.
Roughly two years ago, Yildirim took on former belt holder Anthony Dirrell with the vacant WBC super middleweight title on the line. Although he came out of the gates slow, Yildirim picked up momentum during the second half of their contest. While Yildirim appeared to be the fresher and stronger fighter down the stretch, an unfortunate clash of heads in the seventh round forced their bout to end prematurely due to the gash on Dirrell’s eyebrow refusing to close.
Yildirim would then reluctantly accept a technical decision loss as the scorecards were read. Despite the defeat and ring inactivity, for some inexplicable reason, the WBC left Yildirim in the mandatory position and now finds himself in the most high-profile matchup of his career.
Regardless of his lack of ring appearances, Yildirim’s time on the sidelines wasn’t spent twiddling his thumbs. He worked constantly with Diaz as the COVID-19 induced shutdown helped speed up their time together. Now, with years to help mold him into the fighter he wants, Diaz believes he has just the right man to make the rest of the boxing world look stupid for doubting him.
“He’s a completely different fighter from when he fought Dirrell. I said to him, you are a physically stronger guy than Dirrell but you had no defense. That’s why they called him ‘Mr. Robot’, but there’s no robot in him now, I can tell you. I made a complete transformation because I dedicated time to him. The COVID situation helped him in a way because there was nothing to do. There were no fights, so just to keep him busy we would go to the gym and work on technique and making him a better fighter. Any trainer would like to have him, he just does what you tell him to do. He’s a true soldier – you tell him to do something, he just does it.”
By: Hans Themistode
As expected, WBA, WBC and Ring magazine super middleweight belt holder Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) has agreed to terms with Matchroom Boxing for a February 27th, mandated title defense against Avni Yildirim at The Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Florida.
Reports of the deal began to surface several weeks ago as promoter Eddie Hearn attempted desperately to keep the pound for pound star on the DAZN platform after the pairs recent publicized split. While the entirety of the deal has not yet been revealed, there is a belief that should Alvarez win his showdown against Yildirim, that he would then move on to a unification bout against WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders in May.
For Alvarez, the quick turnaround will serve as a makeup for lost time. During a 2020 that was filled with a global pandemic, postponed events and a messy legal battle with former promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions as well as DAZN, Alvarez stepped into the ring just once. While his appearances were few and far between, the Mexican native made the most of it as he dismantled former super middleweight belt holder Callum Smith.
As for Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), his bout with Alvarez will be his first in two years. The Turkish contender was last seen on February 23rd, 2019 against former titlist Anthony Dirrell. The 29-year-old would see his first bid at a world title dashed away from him as he suffered a close technical decision loss on the night.