Pound for Pound great Canelo Alvarez is back in action this week as he defends his WBC super-middleweight title against Avni Yildrim. The fight will take place at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, which is the home of the Miami Dolphins and hosted the 2020 Super Bowl. The Mexican will be going into the fight as the heavy favourite, but will be attempting to avoid a disastrous slip up.
Only two months has passed since Canelo’s last outing, a dominating victory over Brit Callum Smith which saw him gain both the vacant WBC title and the WBA. Fans of the sport will be glad to see that despite his troubles with Golden Boy promotions he is attempting to stay active. He has now teamed up with Matchroom Boxing, who will be co-promoting the event with it being broadcast globally on DAZN. This fight is another step to becoming undisputed champion, which would ensure that Alvarez leaves a lasting legacy on the sport and the division. It would leave only Billy Joe Saunders WBO title and Caleb Plant’s IBF out of his control. With another fight already pencilled in for May against Saunders, it should continue to be a busy and exciting 2021. After defeating 168 pounders such as Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs and Callum Smith, adding both Yildrim and Saunders would give him an unmatched resume.
Yildrim on the other hand is coming off a loss to Anthony Dirrell, with the American winning due to an accidental head clash in round 10 and technical decision. However, this fight was in February 2019, and he could not have a bigger task in front of him after two years outside the ring. Having mentioned the positives of Canelo’s activity, there is a worry that the opposite could be said for the Turkish fighter. This will also be his third attempt at a world title, having lost to Chris Eubank Jr for the IBO belt in 2017. In the build up to the fight, he has stated he will come out with an aggressive style comparing himself to Golovkin. He will need to use his impressive jab and take advantage of any mistakes if he is to have any chance of getting his hand raised at the end of the night. It is unlikely that you will be able to outbox Alvarez, so instead you must try and break down his granite chin which might be a thankless task. There has been a quiet confidence around Yildrim’s camp, with his trainer, Joel Diaz, stating that the time away has completely helped him transform as a fighter. He told BadLeftHook: “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.” On Saturday we will find out whether this is true, and if it is it will truly send reverberations around the world of boxing.
An active Canelo is arguably the best fighter in the sport, and fans will have another chance to witness greatness this weekend. The fight may not be competitive however, having the opportunity to watch a fighter like Alvarez live should not be missed. The Mexican is on course to control another division, having now competed in four different weight categories. Complacency may be the only thing which could defeat him in this fight. Looking back on his body of work, it suggests that he always delivers even when he is the heavy favourite.
As expected, the rest of the card lacks significant depth however, there are some interesting names and fights. In the co-main event slot, Julio Cesar Martinez will have the opportunity to defend his WBC flyweight title as he takes on McWilliam Arroyo. Also on the card is Chinese heavyweight, Zhang Zhilei who takes on Jerry Forrest in an attempt to climb the world rankings. Whilst exciting prospect Diego Pacheco takes another step up to fight Rodolfo Gomez Jr in a super-middleweight bout.
Date: February 26th 2021
Time: Main event ring walk approx. 4am
Venue: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami