Hot on the heels of his dominant December 2019 points win over Callum Smith, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez makes a swift defence of his Super Middleweight gold on Saturday night against a man considered as having little to no chance of victory in Turkey’s Avni Yildirim.
DAZN is the place to see the pound for pound flag bearer, Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) put his WBC and WBA ‘Super’ and Ring Magazine titles on the line against Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami and 2021 could well be the year we see some blockbuster fights for the Mexican.
The 30-year-old needs little introduction, and has taken the premier fighter mantle from old foe Floyd Mayweather Jr and ran with it in the last few years.
After a spell as WBC Super Welterweight champion, and then unified champion, Canelo dropped his belts to Mayweather in September 2013 in a learning reverse.
That remains his only professional defeat, and world titles have since come at Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight in a glittering career that has seen him defeat names such as Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
A hotly disputed draw with Gennady Golovkin was followed a year later by a majority win. A move to 168lbs brought him Rocky Fielding’s WBA ‘Regular’ belt and after a drop back down to defend his Middleweight gold against Daniel Jacobs, he knocked out Sergey Kovalev in eleven to become WBO Light Heavyweight champion.
Alvarez was last out just two months ago, easily dealing with the challenge of Callum Smith, taking a wide points win.
Victory for Canelo will set him up for a clash with WBO Super Middleweight titlist, Billy Joe Saunders with a deal reportedly agreed for a May showdown, should the Mexican overcome his WBC mandatory challenger.
If the man from Istanbul could somehow take the win on the weekend, it would rank with one of the most monumental upsets of all time.
Yildirim started as a Light Heavyweight, and dropped down to Super Middleweight, and a May 2017 points win over Marco Antonio Periban saw him emerge as a contender.
This was quickly dispelled however, as one fight later he was knocked out in three in an IBO title tilt against Chris Eubank Jr.
The 29-year-old was given a shot at the vacant WBC belt in February 2019, losing to Anthony Dirrell on a technical decision, with the fight halted, after the American suffered a cut. He hasn’t fought since, which makes this opportunity even more bizarre.
Prediction: Alvarez will want to waste no time in winning and moving on, and Yildirim shouldn’t pose too many problems for him. After a feeling out opener, the Mexican should cut loose, and can remove the Turk from battle inside three or four rounds in this one.
Martinez defends WBC crown against Arroyo
Exciting WBC Flyweight boss, Julio Cesar Martinez makes a third defence of his crown on the bill against McWilliams Arroyo (20-4, 15 KOs).
Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) is a big puncher, and has gone from strength to strength since winning the title in December 2019.
2020 saw two defences, a points win over brave Welshman Jay Harris, followed by a second round hammering of Moises Calleros in October 2020, which was his last appearance.
Prediction: Arroyo hasn’t been stopped in four defeats and has failed in two previous world title bids against Amnat Ruenroeng and Roman Gonzalez. He does hold a February 2018 win over Carlos Cuadras and is durable, but Martinez has heavy hands, and I can see him halting his challenger in the championship rounds.
The rest of the card is pretty threadbare. At Heavyweight, China’s Zhilei Zhang takes on Jerry Forrest over ten.
Forrest (26-4, 20 KOs) is a tough nut to crack, and has gone the distance with Michael Hunter and, last time out, Carlos Takam. The pick is for Zhang (22-0, 17 KOs) to take a dull decision win.
The sole eight rounder is at Super Middleweight, where Diego Pacheco (10-0, 8 KOs) will more than likely need the distance to see off Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-4-1, 10 KOs), who hasn’t previously been halted.
The six rounder also comes at Super Middleweight, and Alexis Espino (6-0, 4 KOs) should be able to halt Ashton Sykes (5-3, 1 KO) inside schedule.
In four round action, exciting Super Featherweight prospect, Marc Castro (1-0, 1 KO) is back in action, and it should be an early nights’ work against Raul Corona (2-3).
At Super Lightweight, Aaron Aponte (1-0, 1 KO) is up against Harry Gigliotti (6-1, 3 KOs). Aponte should come through on the cards.
Highly-touted prospect, Keyshawn Davis makes his debut, and the Lightweight is in with Lester Brown (4-2-3, 1 KO) where an inside the distance win is possible.