After losing much of 2020 to the COVID-19 pandemic and contract disputes, Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) is ready to make up for lost time.
Just ten days removed from his dominant decision over Callum Smith to win the WBC and WBA super-middleweight titles, the Mexican superstar is angling for his first fight in his home country in ten years. The Los Angeles Times’ Manouk Akopyan reported on Saturday that Alvarez is lined up for a title defense in Guadalajara against Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), who’s the WBC’s mandatory challenger even though he’s coming off a loss.
Alvarez was supposed to fight Billy Joe Saunders in May before the pandemic shelved those plans. Frustration grew as he eventually filed lawsuits against Golden Boy Promotions, Oscar De La Hoya, and DAZN over (among other things) breach of contract. Golden Boy released him from his contract, thereby also terminating the $365 million mega-deal with DAZN. After that settlement was taken care of, Canelo returned to DAZN anyway as a promotional and network free agent, defeating Smith in San Antonio’s Alamodome.
Yildirim is coming off a somewhat controversial technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC title. Dirrell couldn’t continue due to a cut caused by a clash of heads, and the scorecards went Anthony’s way. After Dirrell was stopped by David Benavidez, Yildirim remained the #1 ranked contender but Benavidez lost his title on the scales when he missed weight in a voluntary defense versus Roamer Alexis Angulo. Through stupid sanctioning body sorcery, Canelo got to fight for the vacant belt by being middleweight champion, and now Yildirim gets first crack at him.
The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger has added that Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is negotiating a two-fight deal with Canelo to compete on DAZN. The first fight would be against Yildirim, followed by a unification bout with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders in May.
Yildirim’s style of fighting combined with the fact that he’s just inferior to Canelo Alvarez means this is highly likely to end in a splattering. But hey, it’s a mandatory challenger and a credible super-middleweight opponent. Would you rather Canelo fight twice in 2021 and have this be one of his matchups or fight three times in 2021 and have this be the throwaway so he can have more compelling bouts later in the year? I know which option is better.