Is Canelo Alvarez Avoiding Tough Fights To Face Avni Yildirim?

Canelo working on two-fight deal involving 2021 bouts with Yildrim and Saunders

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez

Canelo working on two-fight deal involving 2021 bouts with Yildrim and Saunders

In his recent return bout, WBC and WBA super world super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KO’s) dominated in victory. After a year away from the ring, he easily outworked and worked-over former world champion Callum “Mundo” Smith (27-1, 19 KO’s).

Following his widely predicted one-sided win, speculation ran rampant on who he would fight next. This was due to the redhead’s plethora of solid match-ups throughout the middle and super middleweight divisions. At the moment though, Canelo is claiming that he is on a mission to unify the 168 pound division with the remaining two champions. Yet, in his first fight after Smith, it looks like he will fight neither one of them.

According the Athletic, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and Canelo’s manager, Eddy Reynoso, are working on a two-fight deal for Alvarez. The first prizefight would pit Alvarez against Anvi “Mr Robot” Yildirim (21-2, 12 KO’s), who is coming in off a loss to Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KO’s). Alvarez and Yildirim would lock horns on February 27 in the redhead’s native Guadalajara, Mexico. Later, in May, WBO “Superb” Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KO’s) will provide Canelo his second challenge of the deal.


Some will be incredulous to hear that Yildirim is getting the green light to face Canelo. Boxing fans were uninterested in this fight in the summer and they still do not want it now. Meanwhile, fighters like Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (29-0, 18 KO’s) and Jermall “Hit Man” Charlo (31-0, 22 KO’s) are regularly told they do not bring enough to the table, and that is with Andrade being the WBO world middleweight champion while Charlo holds the WBC middleweight title. So it begs the question: why does Mr. Robot have the juice?!

In his last bout against Dirrell, on February 23, 2019, Yildirim and the Dog went to war. The majority of the ten-round bout was a tit-for-tat squabble waged in the phonebooth. However, things got interesting in the closing seconds of the seventh round. That is when an accidental headbutt left Dirrell with a nasty gash, which progressively got worse, over his left eye. Before the end of the tenth round, the ring doctor decided it was too bad to continue. As a result, the bout went to the cards, where Dirrell won a split decision. Due to the closeness of the fight however, Yildirim was named the mandatory challenger by the WBC.

In his very next fight, Dirrell lost his title to David “Red Flag” Benavidez (23-0, 20 KO’s). Although, Benavidez would lose the title to the scale in his next bout. With the belt vacant, Yildirim had maintained his status as mandatory challenger. As the mandatory though, Mr. Robot agreed to step-aside money with the caveat that he would face the winner within 90 days. Ultimately that step aside bout was to allow Alvarez v Smith to take place. This is why he is now holding the lucky golden ticket to face Canelo.


There are those who would much rather see Alvarez attempt to tame Benavidez. He was the last WBC super-middleweight belt-holding champion and did not lose the title in the ring. The undefeated Red Flag is also the #1 super middleweight in the WBC’s rankings, whereas Yildirim is #2. Beyond this, a healthy contingent of boxing enthusiasts believe that Benavidez will be Canelo’s stiffest test in the division. This is based on his size, length, punching power and high volume attack.

Another item to ponder over is why the WBC did not label Benavidez the ‘champion in recess’ after suffering his weight issues. That is what they did when the young champion was busted with cocaine in his system in 2018. Of the infractions, the illicit illegal drug would have to be viewed as the more severe of the two. So, if the WBC could forgive the nose candy, why not show that same understanding here? Especially, since Benavidez really was greatly limited in his conditioning options due to COVID-19 protocols within the bubble. And lastly, most plainly, who among us even wants to see Yildirim face Alvarez over Benavidez?!

By: Bakari Simpson

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Bakari is a writer and contributor for Visit to view more of his literary work.