Canelo Alvarez Makes Quick Work of Avni Yildirim to Defend WBA & WBC Super Middleweight Titles

Canelo Alvarez didn’t take long to defend his titles…

The 30-year-old Mexican boxer, the sport’s biggest star and best pound-for-pound fighter, made quick work of his limited foe, Avni Yildirim, to defend his WBA and WBC titles at 168 pounds via third-round TKO at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

Canelo Alvarez

Needing to clear the hurdle of his mandatory challenger in order to begin an ambitious 2021 plan to unify all four super middleweight world titles, Alvarez looked every bit of the audaciously large betting favorite he was coming in.

Alvarez put on quite the performance amid fireworks and a live concert on his walk to the ring alone. After Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) hid behind his high guard for the first two rounds, he finally succumbed to a stiff right cross from Alvarez that dropped him in Round 3.

After trainer Joel Diaz warned his fighter between rounds that he needed to show something or the fight would be stopped, Yildirim stared with a blank expression on his face that caused his corner to stop the fight.

“It doesn’t matter if they are taller and have more reach or whether they have a good new trainer or no trainer, it doesn’t matter,” Alvarez said after the win. “I come here to do my job and win and I come to make history and I have the best trainer in the world [Eddy Reynoso] in my corner.”

Alvarez made a quick return to the ring just two months after dominating unbeaten champion Callum Smith to unify a pair of super middleweight titles. But he opened as an alarming 50-1 favorite over Yildirim, a native of Turkey who didn’t seem to deserve the mandatory shot considering he was fresh off a two-year layoff and a loss in his last fight.

“It’s great to be active. It’s wonderful to be here in Miami. I wanted to have a great fight here and I’m happy it’s a knockout. That’s what I wanted to do,” Alvarez said. “I will fight anyone. I fight the best and I always fight the best. I fight the best at 168 and here I am, making history. I had to fight Yildirim to get the opportunity to fight the best at 168 and I had to do it. I defended my titles and am ready for what’s next.”

What’s next was confirmed for May 8 by promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, who has one fight remaining on a two-bout deal Alvarez signed to open the year. Hearn said Alvarez will challenge unbeaten WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders at a location to be announced.

In addition, Alvarez is hoping to fight twice more in 2021 after the Saunders bout and has shared his interest in closing the year by defeating Caleb Plant, the unbeaten IBF champion, to become boxing’s first undisputed super middleweight champion.

“[Saunders] is a very difficult fighter and he has the championship, the WBO. We want to unify,” Alvarez said before being asked about Saunders’ ability to trash talk his opponents. “People talk but I’m a mature fighter. I know how to control myself. All I have to do is get into the ring, win and make history. Words are just that.

“I [want to unify] because it hasn’t been done. At 168, no one has done that in the world. I want to make history.”

“I want to make my own history. I don’t want to be equal to anyone. I respect everyone in history but I want to make my own history so that when they one day talk about the sport of boxing, they talk about Canelo.”

Canelo Alvarez Reportedly Planning to Fight Mandatory Challenger Avni Yildirim in February

Canelo Alvarez isn’t waiting long to get back in the ring…

The 30-year-old Mexican boxer, the sport’s biggest star, will return to the ring on February 27 versus mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, according to sources.

Canelo Alvarez

The fight will be broadcast on DAZN and other PPV cable platforms everywhere except Mexico.

It will be a stay-busy title defense for Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs), who is coming off a dominant unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated champion Callum Smith on December 19 to win the WBA, WBC and the Ring magazine super middleweight titles.

 

The Athletic was the first to report the Alvarez fight date.

“Canelo is in the gym, and he has been working and training, waiting for the date,” Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, said. “And to take advantage of the preparation we had for most of last year without fighting.”

After a deal with Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, Alvarez is on track to fight again on May 8, the weekend following Cinco de Mayo, against WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. That bout is not official yet, but it is expected, with IBF champion Caleb Plant as a secondary option.

Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) has plans to unify the super middleweight division, with Saunders and Plant as the two other belt holders in the division.

Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) hasn’t fought since a February 2019 split technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell. He has been Alvarez’s WBC mandatory challenger since before the Alvarez-Smith bout.

“Obviously it’s a very big fight for me. It makes me very proud to be on a stage like this, representing the Turkish people,” Yildirim told ESPN on Wednesday. “I know my opponent well. Of course, Canelo is one of the best in the world. But I know my value, and now the entire world will see who Avni Yildirim is.”

Alvarez and Reynoso wanted to fulfill their commitment to the WBC by fighting Yildirim before continuing their pursuit through the super middleweight champions.

“Yildirim is a strong fighter. He is a fighter who has earned his place in boxing to get to where he is as the No. 1 challenger in the world,” Reynoso said. “He had a fight against Anthony Dirrell, which seemed to me they took away from him, and gave it to Dirrell due to a cut. It was a world title fight, and [even with a loss], he became an official challenger. He is a guy who has worked honestly to be there, and he is dangerous, strong, has a good punch and very reliable.”

This will be Alvarez’s first bout in Miami, a place he has long enjoyed. Fans can be in attendance up to the COVID-19 pandemic capacity allowed at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes play their home football games.

Ryan Garcia Reaches Final Agreement to Fight Luke Campbell for WBC Interim Lightweight Title

It’s official! Ryan Garcia will be fighting for a title…

The promoters for the 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and Campbell have officially reached an agreement for a WBC interim lightweight title fight to take place in November. Both parties had tentatively agreed to the fight earlier this month.

Ryan Garcia

Matchroom Sports, which promotes Campbell, and Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Garcia, made the announcement on Wednesday, just minutes before a WBC purse bid was to be held for the right to promote the bout.

Last week, the two sides had requested a seven-day extension believing they were close to a deal.

The venue has not been finalized, but Golden Boy president Oscar de la Hoya said it will take place in California.

“We’re very happy that Ryan Garcia will be fighting here in the U.S. in California,” De La Hoya said. “It’s a very difficult fight, and again, we have to give it to DAZN, we have to give it to [Matchroom promoter] Eddie Hearn for making this happen, and we’re looking forward to it.”

The WBC recently ordered this bout to be for their interim title, putting the winner a step closer to a shot at champion Devin Haney. Vasiliy Lomachenko is the WBC “franchise” champion.

Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) will arguably be the toughest opponent of Garcia’s (20-0, 17 KOs) young career. He won a gold medal in the 2012 London Games and put a good effort in decision losses to Jorge Linares in 2017 and Lomachenko in 2019.

de la Hoya said he believes Garcia, the 2017 ESPN prospect of the year, is ready to face a fighter of Campbell’s caliber.

“Absolutely, 1,000 percent,” De La Hoya said. “We strongly believe that once and for all, Ryan Garcia will be able to shut up the critics, prove to everyone that he’s the real deal. It doesn’t get any bigger or more dangerous than Luke Campbell, being an Olympic gold medalist, being tall, strong, and this is going to be Ryan’s time to shine.”

Garcia and Golden Boy haven’t always been on the same page, but with this fight now being made, it seems as though they are a united front.

“Everything is wonderful,” de la Hoya said. “As Ryan has always said, and the way I’ve always expressed it, we’re a family. Families sometime have their differences, but at the end of the day, we’re still family.”

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Defeats Kal Yafai to Win Junior Bantamweight World Title

Roman Gonzalez is once again a world title holder… 

The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, known by his nickname “Chocolatito,” dominated Kal Yafai en route to a ninth-round demolition to take his junior bantamweight world title in the co-feature of the Mikey GarciaJessie Vargas card on Saturday night at The Ford Center at The Star, the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

As an up-and-coming fighter, Yafai, who was making his sixth title defense and in the biggest fight of his career, idolized Gonzalez. He watched his fights and even traveled to them when he could. And now he can say he was battered by Gonzalez, who won a 115-pound world title for the second time and added to an already impressive legacy.

Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight, hadn’t been in the spotlight for the past couple of years following a pair of losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, some lower-profile bouts and a 15-month layoff caused by a knee injury that required surgery. 

But after getting healthy and winning a tune-up fight in Japan in December, he was ready to challenge Yafai for the title, and he dominated.

“I have God’s strength, and God gave me this title back,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “Everyone has the same blessing I got tonight. I always ask God for a blessing. I have a good team around me that brought me back. I thank Mr. [AkihikoHonda, [of Teiken Promotions],Eddie Hearn and DAZN. They gave me the opportunity to once again become a world champion.”

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez to Fight for Possible Fifth World Title

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will get the chance to earn another title…

The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, the first boxer from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight classes,will challenge junior bantamweight world titlist Kal Yafai on February 29 (DAZN) at the Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys training facility in Frisco, Texas, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez

The fight will be on the card headlined by the previously announced Mikey GarciaJessie Vargaswelterweight fight.

The WBAissued a resolution on Tuesday that cleared the way for the fight, which interim titlist and mandatory challenger Andrew Moloneyobjected to and had attorney Pat Englishwrite to the sanctioning body to assert his rights. He knocked out Miguel Gonzalezin March in an official eliminator, which the WBA had ruled would give the winner the next shot at Yafai following a defense against Norbelto Jimenez, whom he easily outpointed in June, no later than March 22.

However, the WBA ignored that ruling in its resolution ultimately writing “the WBA has express authority to modify applicable defense periods and otherwise suspend application of various rules under a special permit. Yafai’s special permit request is conditionally granted subject to his compliance with all other WBA rules, regulations, payment of all applicable fees and the following condition: The winner of Yafai/Gonzalez, or Yafai if a draw, must face Moloney as a mandatory defense within 120 days of said bout.”

English wrote back to the WBA to protest the decision, explaining that Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Australia, had twice turned down offers to challenge IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajasas well as a title eliminator in another organization because of his loyalty to the WBA, for whom he has fought in numerous regional title bouts as well as the title eliminator.

“This application (for Yafai-Gonzalez) has no merit whatsoever,” English wrote to the WBA. “It asks the WBA to violate solemn commitments to Mr. Moloney, both written and verbal. It would injure Mr. Moloney, a fighter who showed his loyalty to the WBA by turning down title bouts and elimination bouts in other organizations. If granted it would make a mockery of the mandatory system. It would be an insult to a country whose sole boxing champion is Andrew Moloney at a time when Australia is beset by terrible tragedy due to unprecedented wildfires. Further, the bout which is requested by Matchroom is an undercard bout, not a bout of ‘great significance’ to the boxing world.

“For these reasons, as well as the reasons set forth in this letter the application of Matchroom should and must be denied.”

Yafai is excited to get a fight with the biggest name in the division in Gonzalez, a lock as a future Hall of Famer.

“I wanted the biggest possible fight available and after the Juan Francisco Estradaunification fell through, I had the opportunity to fight ‘Chocolatito,’ the former pound for pound king,” Yafai said. “Chocolatito is someone that I have idolized as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this and it will bring out the best in me. I can’t wait, it is a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honored to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.”

Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs), 30, of England, will be making the sixth defense of his 115-pound belt and second in a row — and third in his past four — in the United States. He was initially was going to face Estrada in early 2020 to unify 115-pound world titles but that was delayed because Estrada is sidelined with a hand injury.

That opened the door for Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight.

A knee injury that required surgery kept Gonzalez out of the ring for 15 months, but he returned on Dec. 23 in Japan and notched a second-round knockout of Diomel Diocos to shake off the rust and put himself in position for another shot at a junior bantamweight world title.

“God has responded to my prayers once again. I want to thank God and (promoter) Teiken foremost. Also, the champion, Kal Yafai for giving me the opportunity to fight for the championship once again,” Gonzalez said. “I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination.”

Said Hearn: “This is a brilliant fight on an absolute monster of a show. Kal Yafai has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time, and now he gets it against a legend of the sport in ‘Chocolatito.’ This card in Texas is going to be epic and you can expect Yafai versus ‘Chocolatito’ to be an all-out war.”

The card will also feature another world title bout that was previously announced. Newly crowned flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez(15-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Mexico, who won the belt on December 20, will make his first defense against European champion Jay Harris(17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Wales.

Julio Cesar Martinez to Fight Flyweight World Titleholder Charlie Edwards

Julio Cesar Martinez is ready to take on the champ…

The 24-year-old Mexican boxer is set to fight flyweight world titleholder Charlie Edwards on August 31 at the O2 Arena in London, as Edwards makes his mandatory title defense, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.

Julio Cesar Martinez

The bout, Edwards’ second title defense, will be part of the card headlined by pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenkodefending his unified lightweight world title — and an attempt to claim a vacant belt as well — against England’s Luke Campbell.

Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs) earned the title shot by knocking out then-undefeated Andrew Selby, of Wales, in the fifth round on March 23 in Mexico.

“He’s a very tough Mexican who can bang with both hands,” Edwards said of Martinez. “His record shows that he’s a massive puncher and we saw that in his last fight against Andrew Selby. He got him out of there in the fifth round and was hurting him on a number of occasions. He’s coming to bring it and he’s going to try and rip that WBC title off me. This is his World Cupfinal.

“He’s going to put it all on the line. He’s going to be coming hard and fast from early to try and put me under pressure, but I believe my boxing skills and the experience that I’ve gained throughout my short pro career will see me through. I expect to have a punch-perfect performance. I believe that he will bring out the very best in me.

“Timing is everything. I believe this is my era. I have arrived at my destination at the right time and I’m loving the journey. To fight your mandatory challenger on one of the biggest cards in British boxing this year is brilliant because it showcases my skills around the world.”

Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs) took a 112-pound world title by unanimous decision from Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosalesin London in December and made his first defense, also in London, by unanimous decision against Spain’s Angel Morenoon March 23.

“I can’t wait to challenge for the WBC flyweight world title in London,” Martinez said. “I’ll be taking that famous green-and-gold belt back to Mexico with me. I have already knocked out one Brit and on August 31 I will make it two.”

The card also will include a heavyweight fight between contenderHughie Furyand former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin, a bout that Hearn announced Wednesday.

Norbelto Jimenez to Fight Junior Bantamweight World Titleholder Khalid Yafa

Norbelto Jimenez is battling a champ…

The 28-year-old Dominican boxer is set to face junior bantamweight world titleholder Khalid Yafai in a mandatory challenge bout after their camps made a deal for the fight.

Norbelto Jimenez

The agreement came on Tuesday, just before the bout was scheduled to be put up for a purse bid at the WBAoffices in Panama City.

There’s no set date for the fight yet, but Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN that he might place it on the undercard of unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua‘s defense against Jarrell “Big Baby” Milleron June 1 at Madison Square Gardenin New York.

Hearn said if the fight is not on the Joshua-Miller card it would likely be scheduled for another date in June in the United Kingdom.

Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs), 29, of England, has made four title defenses, most recently a unanimous decision over Israel Gonzalezon November 24 in Monte Carlo.

Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs), 28, of the Dominican Republic, hasn’t lost since a four-rounder in 2011, but he also has not faced top opposition.