Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is sticking with his plan for super middleweight supremacy.
The next two fights are in place for pound-for-pound king and reigning WBA/WBC 168-pound titlist, who has reached terms for a three-belt unification with WBO title claimant Billy Joe Saunders. The bout is not yet signed but conditionally agreed upon, sources from both camps confirmed with BoxingScene.com.
Guadalajara’s Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs) still has to take care of present business at hand, as he faces WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12KOs) on Feb. 27 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. A win will clear the path to face England’s Saunders (30-0, 14KOs) on either May 1 or May 8—surrounding the Cinco de Mayo holiday—according to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger who was first to report the development.
A location has yet to be secured for the event. The targeted venue is Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic makes that problematic, as fights in Vegas thus far have either taken place behind closed doors or with only a small handful of fans in attendance since returning to action last June.
In the event that large gatherings are still not permitted by May, locations will be sought in either Texas and Florida. Alvarez’s forthcoming fight with Yildirim will take place with fans in attendance, with Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium permitting a maximum of 25% total capacity
News of the agreed terms comes days prior to a fight featuring Alvarez’s other target, unbeaten IBF 168-pound titlist Caleb Plant (20-0, 12KOs) who faces IBF mandatory challenger and former titlist Caleb Truax (31-4-2, 19KOs).
Instead, Alvarez chose to revisit old business as he and Saunders were set to collide last May at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The two sides reached a deal but the fight was never formally announced as it coincided with the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Both boxers have since made their way back to the ring, taking separate fights two weeks apart last December. Saunders made the second defense of his title in a 12-round decision over countryman Martin Murray on Dec. 4th. Alvarez managed to still land an unbeaten Brit for his lone appearance of 2020, scoring a lopsided 12-round decision win over Liverpool’s Callum Smith to win the WBA and WBC 168-pound titles. With the win, Alvarez became just the third fighter in boxing history to win belts at junior middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight, joining Hall of Fame all-time greats “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.
In claiming the WBC belt, Alvarez inherited a mandatory title defense per an agreement between Istanbul’s Yildirim and the sanctioning body. In lieu of dumping a title, Alvarez opted not only for the fight but a quick ring turnaround. Adding the Saunders clash to the mix will give the Mexican superstar a schedule of three title fights in a span of less than five months.
Both fights come under a two-bout agreement recently signed between Alvarez and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Alvarez worked with Hearn for the fight with Smith, his first after severing ties with longtime promoter Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox