Canelo Alvarez appears to be slated to face Avni Yildirim on February 27
Well, the speculation appears to be over in regards to who WBA super and WBC super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KO’s) will face next. According to the Athletic, Alvarez will lock horns with Avni “Mr. Robot” Yildirim (21-2, 12 KO’s) on February 27. This really should come as no real shock as this was forecasted to be the plan roughly one month ago. Yet, surprise or no, there will certainly be gripes from many in the boxing public.
At the root of these criticisms will be a desire to see Canelo face tougher competition. In his last bout, Alvarez easily defeated a timid fighting Callum “Mundo” Smith and took his WBA belt. During the build up to this contest, the redhead let it be known his mission was to unify all the belts at 168. This would require that he face super middleweight champions Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (IBF) and “Superb” Billy Joe Saunders (WBO). However, he is opting not to face either man. Admittedly, Plant is lined up to dance with his Caleb “Golden” Truax. Saunders, however, does not have a fight scheduled.
WAVING THE WHITE FLAG AT RED FLAG?
Even if the Mexican superstar did not face Plant or Saunders, many would still belly-ache over Yildirim. The main reason is because former WBC super middleweight champion David “Red Flag” Benavidez (23-0, 20 KO’s) is a much better fighter. Not only is he a more dangerous foe, the WBC belt that Canelo holds is his belt, a belt he did not lose in the ring.
Going one step further, Benavidez is ranked higher, #1, by the WBC as compared to Yildirim’s #2 standing. Lastly, it is widely perceived that Benavidez represents his most difficult challenge in the division overall. So, if Canelo must fight a non-champion, why not fight the undefeated former champion?
ANATOMY OF A FIGHT CONTRACT
Whether it is liked or not, there is a backstory to how Yildirim hit the Canelo sweepstakes. When Mr. Robot was last in the squared-circle, he dropped a split-decision loss to Anthony “Dog” Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KO’s). The Dog was the WBC 168-pound champion at the time of their clash. However, the prizefight ended prematurely due to a ghastly cut suffered by Dirrell, who retained his title. Based upon the razor-thin aspect of the bout, the WBC felt that it was the right move to name Yildirim as the mandatory challenger to the title.
Dirrell went on to lose the WBC title in his next bout to Red Flag. Then, in his next subsequent fight, Benavidez lost his title to the scales. Therefore, when Canelo scooped up Benavidez’s now vacant strap, he inherited Yildirim as his mandatory. So while the match-up will no doubt be scoffed at, there is a paper trail clearly detailing why it is happening.
By: Bakari Simpson