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.
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.”