Unified Super Middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez viciously dismantled the overmatched Avni Yildirim, dropping the challenger once in Round 3 before the bout was stopped after the round
MIAMI (February 27, 2021) — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez nearly missed all of 2020, but the unified Super Middleweight champion seems intent on achieving his stated goal of fighting four times in 2021. He returned to the ring tonight in Miami, Fla. to face his WBC mandatory opponent in Avni Yildirim. Alvarez easily defeated former WBA and Ring Super Middleweight champion Callum Smith Dec. 19 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Pound-for-pound champion Alvarez – also a four-division champion – previously occupied to of boxing’s most notable dates in the Saturdays nearest Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day September 16. Yildirim’s massive underdog status made it possible for Alvarez to fit this fight in ahead of a potential unification bout May 8 versus WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders.
The final key detail heading into the fight: Yildirim last fought February 2019 in a 10-round technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell for the same title Alvarez now holds. He was up 98-92 on the only card he was winning a Dirrell cut forced the stoppage.
The only unknown tonight was the real impact of trainer Joel Diaz’ advertised retooling of Yildirim’s skill set.
Unfortunately, fans witnessed very little improvement in terms of Diaz’ tutelage. Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) worked around and underneath Yildirim’s high guard through the first two frames with left hooks and uppercut. But in the third round he set up punishing left jab-straight right combination that drove Yildirim backwards and down onto the canvas.
Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) got up to his feet and willed his way to the end of the round. However, Alvarez power punching over the next two minutes affected the challenger greatly, and before the fourth round bell could ring, referee Telis Assimenios advised Team Canelo of the Yildirim corner’s decision to retire.
Alvarez opened Round 1 with lead power shots. He sat down on several left hooks and uppercuts. Yildirim moved in and out behind his high guard. Alvarez started flashing his jab to keep his opponent at the right distance.
Avni continued to stand in front of the champion in the second frame. The action stayed in the center of the ring. Alvarez unloaded with a variety of shots to test the Turkish challenger’s guard. Most of the bigger shots were uppercuts through Avni’s guard. Avni slipped in a scoring right cross before the end of the round.
Canelo dropped Yildirim with a hidden straight right hand early in the third round. A left jab created the opening. The challenger beat the count to fight off, and the champion patiently stalked him to strafe him and close the show. Yildirim tried to steady himself. Alvarez worked up and down while Yildirim’s hands stayed high.
Diaz warned his fighter that he was there to keep him safe, and that another one-sided round would force him to stop the fight. Yildirim responded like he was interested in continuing, but moments later the referee informed the Alvarez corner that the fight was over.
Officially, the decision was announced as a technical knockout at the end of Round 3 with the challenger being unable to continue.
The win, Alvarez’ 55th, clears the way the May 8 unification bout against the Saunders. Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn confirmed the bout in the ring during the post-fight interview.
All photos by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom