Trainer Joel Diaz says his fighter Ani Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) will go on the attack on the attack immediately to try and knockout WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) this Saturday night because he believes that his fighter won’t be given a decision if it goes the full 12 rounds.
Canelo, 30, and Yildirim will be the main event on DAZN this Saturday, February 27th, at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Alvarez vs. Yildirim is expected to have a crowd estimated at 15,000 fans, which is an excellent number for these times.
Yildirim, 29, is a huge underdog going into Saturday’s fight, and his trainer Joel Diaz believes he only has one way of winning, and that’s by knocking Canelo out.
Fortunately for Yildirim, he’s not entirely in the dark about what he’s up against, as he’s sparred Canelo in the past. He knows what he’s dealing with against Canelo and which shots that he can hit him with.
Yildirim has shared rounds with Canelo
“Avni is going to give it his all. It’s either do or die,” said Diaz to Fighthub about Yildirim’s attitude for his fight against Canelo.
“Sometimes you have a plan, but when you get in the ring and you feel the first hard punch, some people will cower down and some fighters will get their heat up and go for it and the plan goes out the window.
“No, because Callum Smith is a completely different fighter from Avni,” said Diaz when asked if there’s anything he was able to learn from watching the Canelo vs. Smith fight. “Their styles are completely different.
“Sometimes a fighter isn’t ready, and you can’t prepare a fighter for that because this is their first time in the spotlight. I told him [Yildirim], you’ve shared rounds with Canelo before [sparring].
“You know how it is. I mean, a fight is a fight. This is a fight just like any other fight. It’s just at a different level, so you’ve got to remember to block everything around you.
“When you enter the ring, you’ve got more people looking at you. You’ve got the whole world looking at you. It’s a fight. The fight is the same, it’s just at a different level,” said Diaz.
There’s nothing to learn for Yildirim from watching Canelo’s last fight against Callum Smith because the British fighter went into the survival mode from the opening bell, perching himself with his back against the ropes and staying in the position for the entire fight.
The fighters that have enjoyed a level of success against Canelo in the past, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Gennadiy Golovkin, used their jabs to take advantage of his short arms.
However, in Golovkin’s case, he was on the receiving end of questionable scoring in his two fights with Canelo, so we didn’t see what he did paying off. But what Golovkin used against Canelo worked, and he gave him a lot of problems with his jabbing and his nonstop pressure.
Avni will use what he learned
“He never told me,” said Diaz when asked if Yildirim had discussed with him how his sparring sessions with Canelo went.
“I told him, ‘Do you still remember which ones of the punches he was landing more on you so that we can correct that?
“Which were the punches that you were landing on him?’ I based on that because in sparring you see the fighters get hit more with one shot, and that’s a shot that they’re working on over there.
“If I was Eddy Reynoso and I had a sparring partner for this guy, and then later on, ‘I remember when Avni would spar, Avni would land a left hook or straight right.
“The punch that landed the cleanest and the most constant punch that will come, I would focus on that.
“It is [crucial for Yildirim to focus on shots he’s landed in sparring] because Canelo is an all-around fighter.
“Canelo can move, he can go to the body, go to the head, he can hit you with a right or left. It’s really hard because Canelo has a big arsenal of weapons.
“He’s got uppercuts; he’s got hooks, he’s got straight rights. He knocked out Amir Khan with a straight right.
“He catches people with uppercuts, left hooks, you see what he did to Kovalev. Canelo isn’t a fighter that you just say that he’s like Danny Garcia.
“Danny Garcia, everybody knows he has a left hook, you know? Every fighter has a strength, a power shot. Canelo has a lot.
“So you have to prepare yourself to see punches from different angles, and power shots from different angles because Canelo is an all-around great fighter, he moves.
“He’s got beautiful reflexes, especially with fighters like Avni, who is coming in trying to look for him.
“I mean, Golovkin couldn’t catch him at times, and Jacobs couldn’t catch him at times. So we have to attack him in another way,” Diaz said about how difficult it is to land shots against Canelo.
Yildirim is a straight-ahead type of fighter, and he’s not going to beat Canelo by jabbing him the way Floyd Mayweather Jr did. He’s got one option, and that’s to attack Canelo and look to hurt him with his shots.
Yildirim will attack Canelo
“I’m expecting Avni to react and go get Canelo,” Diaz said. “Why? Because realistically, a decision we’re not going to win. We know that, everyone [knows it].
“Let’s be realistic, I’m not a hypocrite about it. We know that if we go the distance, we’re not going to win based on the situation.
“Canelo is a great fighter; he’s got great footwork, he can move around the ring and he can hit and move. He’s learned a lot from when he fought [Floyd] Mayweather.
“After he fought Mayweather, he became a better fighter. His loss was his win, and to me after he fought Mayweather, he became a better fighter. So I expect a fight of full action from the beginning to the last.
“Avni respects the opportunity, and he knows he’s representing his country. We got to keep him focused because there’s a lot t the fight.
“We got a lot of media, and dealing with the media is stressful, I got to tell you. For example, he trained today, he’s losing weight.
“What he wants to do is go home and rest, but when you have to stop and do interviews, it’s a little draining for the fighters, especially when you have to do many interviews.
“Keeping him motivated is the process from now until the fight,” Diaz said of Yildirim.
Coach Diaz at least has his eyes open about Yildirim’s chances of winning. Yildirim needs to stick with what has gotten him this far in the professional game, and that’s his punching power and size.
It won’t work if the Turkish fighter tries to beat Canelo at his own game by boxing him and counting on the judges to give him the decision.
Diaz wants fans to show respect
“I want people to give Avni the respect as a fighter because fighters go through a lot of sacrifices, it’s not easy,” said Diaz.
“People always talk, but I wish the people that always talk negatively would go through one month of camp with what the fighters go through so that they could appreciate and not speak badly about a fighter because it’s very tough.
“It’s a very tough, disciplined routine with sacrifices by these fighters. I mean, that’s why there’s not a lot of fighters out there at this level because they cannot stand the discipline and hard work, the daily routine.
“It’s hard. People always comment negatively because they never lived it, you know? If they lived a little bit of what the fighters go through, they would appreciate it more.
“So all I tell people is to give the fighters respect. Every fighter is working like the average person to bring the bread home, and it’s a sacrifice.
“They’re risking their lives every time they go in the ring. I mean, they’re getting hit with every angle, and you see a lot of tragedies in the sport of boxing, and people still comment negatively.
“They should be more respectful about the sport. And regardless if it’s Avni Yildirim or if it’s someone else, they should give the fighters some respect.
“If they didn’t know him, give him the opportunity so that they can know him.
“He’s going to go inside the ring with the best fighter in the division right now, and he’s going to try to do what every fighter has been trying to do and win and beat Canelo.
“If it doesn’t happen, ‘Yildirim tried.’ Whatever it is, but at the same time, give the man some respect,” said Diaz.
The boxing public sees Yildirim as a fighter that doesn’t deserve to be fighting the superstar Canelo, given that he’s coming off a defeat to Anthony Dirrell and hasn’t fought in two years.
They’re not going to give Yildirim the respect that Diaz would like them to because he hasn’t done anything in his career that would earn him that respect.
The positive thing that Yildirim has going for him is there’s no pressure on him, as he’s expected to get blown out by Canelo in the same way he was in his third-round knockout loss to Chris Eubank Jr in 2017.
With no pressure on him, Yildirim is in the position to surprise the fans by giving Canelo all he can handle on Saturday night. Even if Yildirim loses, as long as he fights hard throughout, he’ll come out ahead and be in demand by other top fighters at 168.