After just two months out of the ring, Canelo Alvarez returns to action Saturday on DAZN, defending the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles against WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in Miami.
Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KO) is a massive favorite for this fight, with Yildirim (21-2, 12 KO) getting the chance of a lifetime to pull an all-timer upset. Can he do it, or will Canelo march on toward further unification?
We make our picks.
I’m fully willing to believe trainer Joel Diaz when he says Avni Yildirim has gotten better in training. But he hasn’t fought in two years and he’s lost to both of his best opponents, blown out by Chris Eubank Jr and later dropping a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell. Dirrell was past his best days by then, and his best days were never Canelo’s level. Eubank is a good athlete who exploded through Yildirim, but he’s not the fighter Canelo is.
Yildirim has no hope here other than a miracle punch, and Alvarez is too defensively responsible for that. Canelo feasts on the body, uses Yildirim’s aggression against him if Yildirim comes out aggressive (he should, it’s his only shot), and puts this away early to not risk a cut or anything else that delays a fight with Billy Joe Saunders. Canelo TKO-3
Avni Yildirim seems to be entering this fight with the exact right attitude, but whether or not his fight game can cut the mustard is an entirely different thing. I don’t think there’s a chance of Yildirim outboxing Canelo, and the more he opens up the more I think he’ll expose himself to sharp counters from Canelo. That means Yildirim will likely have to land something big to take Canelo out otherwise he’ll be up against it. And really, I think Yildirim is up against it.
I don’t think Canelo has ever been more confident in himself and his boxing has steadily improved over the years, to the point where he’s well beyond what Yildirim is capable of. So for me this is about how hard Yildirim wants to push himself. If he’s truly gunning for the win, I think he’ll end up taking enough punishment that he won’t make it to the final bell. Yildirim says he’s coming for war, so I’ll just take him at his word. Canelo TKO-8
How to Watch Canelo vs Yildirim
Date: Saturday, Feb. 27 | Start Time: 7:00 pm ET
Location: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
Patrick L. Stumberg
All that really needs to be said about this matchup is that Canelo’s making his quickest turnaround in years and has a blockbuster fight all-but-scheduled just over two months later. This is a man whose career has been managed with unsettlingly scientific precision; if he thought there was any chance at all of Yildirim compromising his payday, he’d have sidestepped his mandatory obligation by immediately jumping into a unification fight.
As far as actual, you know, matchup analysis, Yildirim is a capable close-quarters bruiser going up against one of the most fearsome infighters in the sport. Unless you’re as rugged and powerful as a prime-ish Gennadiy Golovkin, slugging it out with Canelo is a recipe for disaster; considering that’s Yildirim’s only feasible game plan, the outcome’s not in doubt. At least it should be entertaining to watch Yildirim bravely wade into the fire and get burned to a crisp. Canelo TKO-5
I’m not gonna shit on this fight in the slightest. With a stripped-back schedule starting the year off, it only feels like yesterday that we were picking Canelo’s fight with Callum Smith. Canelo’s desire to be as active as possible can only be good for the sport.
I mean, Yildirim is unfortunately cannon-fodder. He’s big and strong at the weight but that’s the only notable box to tick when comparing him against the Mexican. Is Yildirim a step up or step down from the Rocky Fielding fight? I honestly think a slight step down. The challenger has won five bouts against guys with 60 losses combined since a disappointing loss to Chris Eubank Jr in 2017 and this opportunity really has come out of the blue.
Canelo should be able to walk him down, stalk him and find whatever finish he desires, whenever he desires. Canelo KO-4