Canelo Alvarez won in a dominant fashion against Avni Yildirim tonight, stopping him in the third round to hold onto his WBA and WBC super middleweight straps, with the win setting the table for a unification fight on May 8th against WBO 168lb champion Billy Joe Saunders.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) surprised a lot of people tonight by throwing next to nothing, and it wasn’t a surprise that his corner pulled him out at the end of three.
One could tell from Yildirim’s body language after the third that he wasn’t going to let his hands go if he were allowed to come out for the fourth round.
Yildirim had the look of someone that was 100% mentally disengaged from the task at hand. His mind wasn’t there tonight.
Avni came into the fight with Alvarez with a reputation of being a guy that is unafraid to charge straight ahead looking to exchange, but tonight, Yildirim looked like an imposter, a timid, gunshy fighter unable to throw anything back at Canelo.
For the fans that thought Yildirim would fight with some intensity, they were disappointed. Yildirim was more like a punching bag with arms, just there to take shots and not willing to try and win.
With nothing coming back at him, Canelo mixed his shots up, showcasing his skills in front of the casuals.
15,000 fans were expected to attend the Canelo vs. Saunders fight on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, but it seemed like a much smaller crowd. Perhaps it was due to the fans being spaced in their seating.
After the fight was over, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing said Canelo would be taking on WBO champ Saunders next, which is the fight that he’s looking forward to. Hearn promotes Saunders, so it’s a win-win.
“It’s Canelo against Saunders May 8, with venue announced shortly,” Hearn said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest fights of the year.”
Most fans would agree that Saunders is a big leap up from Canelo’s last two opponents, Yildirim and Callum Smith. But just how much of a jump-up remains to be seen.
Canelo vs. Saunders will be one of the biggest fights in 2021 in terms of UK boxing fans, but obviously not with the U.S fans.
Saunders isn’t popular in the United States, and the fans that do know him aren’t likely to give him any chance of beating Alvarez.
“I come here to do my job, I come to win, and I come to make history,” Canelo said after the fight “I feel strong, fast, and comfortable [at super middleweight].
“I’ll fight anyone. I always fight the best. It doesn’t matter. I had to fight against Yildirim to unify 168.”
There’s a couple of things that some boxing fans would disagree with from Canelo’s comments after the fight. First off, he obviously won’t “fight anyone.”
If Canelo really was willing to anybody, he would have taken on Jermall Charlo, David Benavidez, Dimitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, and Demetrius Andrade a long time ago.
Canelo has his preferences of fighters that he’s willing to fight, and Yildirim was acceptable but the above fighters aren’t.
Secondly, Canelo’s comment about how he “Always fight the best.”
You can’t agree with that either. Yildirim, Rocky Fielding, Callum Smith, Caleb Plant, Saunders, Daniel Jacobs, and Sergey Kovalev aren’t the best.
I mean, they’re not the worst, but they’re definitely not the best unless we’ve lowered the standards for what is acceptable in being called the best.
McWilliams Arroyo destroys Abraham Rodriguez
The co-feature bout on tonight’s career between McWilliams Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) and Abraham Rodriguez (27-3, 13 KOs) was almost as bad a mismatch as the main event.
The larger fighter Arroyo chased his replacement opponent Rodriguez around the ring the entire fight, hitting him with nice combinations and having it easy. In the fifth, Rodriguez’s corner pulled him out.
The victory for Arroyo earned him the WBC interim flyweight belt. He’s now set to face WBC flyweight champion, Julio Cesar Martinez, as soon as his fractured right hand has healed.
Arroyo and Martinez were originally scheduled to meet in the co-feature bout on tonight’s career. Martinez suffered a hand injury, and that made it necessary for him to pull out.