Canelo Alvarez cleared the way for his unification fight against Billy Joe Saunders in taking care of Avni Yildirim by a third-round retirement on Saturday night in the defense of his WBA/WBC super middleweight titles at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs) dropped Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) once in the third round, and the fight was subsequently stopped after the round ended. The punch that Canelo landed to put Yildirim on the deck was a perfect right hand that went down the pike to drop him like a bad habit
After round three, Yildirim’s trainer Joel Diaz asked him if he was alright, and told him that he stop it if he didn’t show him something in the fourth.
Diaz’s decision to stop the fight suggests that Yildirim didn’t say the right things to let him know that he was going to try and turn things around.
We had a complete failure to launch with Yildirim tonight, as he didn’t ever get untracked. He was only interested in throwing jabs. When Yildirim did finally throw a right in the third, Canelo immediately countered him with a right hook to the head. After that, Yildirim never tried again to throw a power shot.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) February 28, 2021
Following the end of the fight, Canelo tried to justify his decision to fight Yildirim by telling the media that he had to because he would have been stripped by the WBC if he didn’t.
It’s believed that Canelo could have sidestepped Yildirim easily, but he wanted the fight.
Afterward, Canelo’s promoter Eddie Hearn said that he’ll next be fighting WBO super middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders, on May 8th. Hopefully, that fight is more competitive than this one because this was the second mismatch for Canelo in which he was facing an opponent that was unwilling to throw.
In Canelo’s previous match against former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith last December, Smith spent the entire fight covering up on the ropes. It was strange to see Smith not even trying to get off the ropes to make a fight of it.
It would be better if Canelo’s next fight were against an opponent with offense and punching power. David Benavidez would be ideal. Saunders hasn’t looked good since he moved up to 168 from the 160-lb division.