By Matt Lieberman: Canelo Alvarez has a two-fight deal in the works with DAZN and Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn for him to fight Avni Yildirim on February 27th, and then Billy Joe Saunders in May on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Both fights for Alvarez (54-1-1, 36 KOs) will be shown on DAZN as part of the two-fight deal, according to Mike Coppinger. Canelo’s trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso is negotiating the deal with Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn for his two-fight deal on DAZN.
The February 27th fight for WBA/WBC upper middleweight champion Canelo against his WBC mandatory Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) will be staged in Guadalajara, Mexico. That’s the 30-year-old Canelo’s hometown.
Fans have no interest in Yildirim & Saunders
If Canelo beats Yildirim and Saunders, he’ll likely face IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant on the Mexican Independence Day holiday weekend in September 2021. Canelo vs. Plant will be for the undisputed championship at 168.
What’s lost in the translation here is neither of these two fights are ones that the boxing public has been demanding from Canelo. The fans want to see Canelo face quality opponents like these guys:
- Gennadiy Golovkin
- Jermall Charlo
- Demetrius Andrade
- David Benavidez
- Errol Spenence Jr
- Artur Beterbiev
- Dimitry Bivol
WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) will be looking to spoil Canelo’s dream of unifying the 168-lb division. Saunders has a tricky style of fighting that could give Canelo problems, but he’s not much of a puncher.
Compared to Canelo’s last opponent Callum Smith Saunders is world’s better in terms of boxing skills and ring smarts.
You’re not going to see Saunders fight the way that Callum did against Canelo by resting against the ropes for the full 12 rounds, trying to fend off his attacks.
Billy Joe will be tricky
Saunders will keep the action in the center of the ring and look to outbox Canelo. Whether Saunders can win a decision against Canelo is another matter.
We’ve already seen a number of times during Canelo’s career that it’s almost impossible to get a decision against him. That’s not because he can’t be outboxed. It’s more of a case of the judges like what they see from Canelo, and not being aware of how the rest of the world is viewing the fights.
It’s interesting that Canelo left DAZN over pay issues, and now he’s signing a two-fight deal with them to fight low-level opposition.
Hopefully, for DAZN’s sake, they’re not paying Alvarez huge money for these fights against Yildirim and Saunders because neither of these fights is likely to bring in a lot of subscribers.
If DAZN is going to be paying Canelo a huge amount of money for each fight, they should insist that he fight guys that the fans want to see him fight.
Yildirim will be coming off a 2-year layoff
It’s disappointing that Canelo is going to defend against Yildirim, who is coming off of a loss to Anthony Dirrell last year. In an oddity, the World Boxing Council has kept Yildirim as the mandatory at 168 despite the loss.
When Yildirim faces Canelo in February 2021, he’ll have been out of the ring for two years. Let that sink in for a minute. What kind of fight do you think Yildirim will be able to give Canelo coming off a 2-year layoff?
If you’re DAZN, you got to be at least a little bit concerned about the people that subscribe to their platform. If they’re going to be paying to see slop like Canelo vs. Yildirim, they might not be too happy, especially given how poor Alvarez’s last fight was against Callum Smith.
He was the guy that Canelo hyped as the #1 fighter at 168, which he obviously wasn’t. It would have been nice if Canelo admitted that Callum was just an easy payday for him.
The way Callum fought, you can argue that he’s a bottom 10 fighter and no better than that. He’s certainly not #1.
That’s whys it’s important that DAZN doesn’t let Canelo fight poor opponents over and over again, because if they let him, I think he will.
He’s not shown much desire to take on anyone lately that had a chance of beating him since his controversial 12 round decision win over Gennadiy Golovkin in 2018.
Aside from Yildirim having done zero to deserve a title shot, boxing fans aren’t going to be excited at seeing Canelo face this guy on DAZN. FOr the people that know of Yildirim, remember his third-round knockout defeat against Chris Eubank Jr in 2017.
Yildirim’s ring record = very poor
This was one of the only two world-class opponents that Yildirim has faced during his career. His other world-caliber opponent was Anthony Dirrell, who beat him by a 10-round last year in February 209.
Yildirim was getting his head boxed off by the 36-year-old Dirrell until the American suffered a bad cut over his left eye from a headbutt in the seventh. The fight finally had to be stopped after the tenth round ended.
Canelo has an excuse for him signing to face Yildirim, as he’s his WBC mandatory challenger at 168. With Yildirim being the IBF mandatory for Canelo, he has a built-in excuse for taking this fight. But that doesn’t escape the fact that it’s a terrible fight and likely won’t last more than a round or two.
It’s the same excuse that IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin had for his recent title defense against his IBF mandatory Kamil Szeremeta.
That was a mismatch on paper before the fight, and it turned out to be a horribly one-sided fight that wasn’t remotely competitive.
DAZN will obviously be counting on the casual boxing fans having no idea how poor the Canelo vs. Yildirim fight is, and they’ll sign up to watch it thinking it’s going to be an interesting one. It won’t be. Yildirim doesn’t belong ranked in the top 15 t super middleweight, let alone at #1 with the WBC.
Avni Yildirim’s best career wins
- Lolenga Mock
- Marco Antonio Periban
- Aaron Pryor Jr
- Janne Forsman
- Walter Gabriel Sequeira
Mock and Johnson were both in their mid-40s when Yildirim fought them. There’s very little chance that Yildirim would have beaten these two world-class fighters when they were both in their prime, as very had talent when they were young.
Unfortunately, by the time Yildirim fought them, they were well past their prime. With that said, it’s more than a little troubling that Yildirim’s management has used these guys as opponents for him rather than putting him in with top contenders.
What’s even sadder is the WBC has given Yildirim a high ranking based on these wins there than waiting until he proved himself worthy of being ranked by beating quality opposition, which he hasn’t done during his career. Welcome to boxing.
Sources: Eddie Hearn and Eddy Reynoso discussing a two-fight deal for Canelo Alvarez to compete on DAZN in February and May against Avni Yildirim and Billy Joe Saunders, respectively. If deal reached, first bout could take place Feb. 27 in Canelo’s hometown, Guadalajara, Mexico
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) December 26, 2020
The positive that comes from Canelo taking the Yildirim and Saunders fights in a short time span is that there won’t be a long build-up to them.
Will Canelo start giving the fans good fights in 2022?
They’ll be over with quickly in a short period of time, and the boxing public won’t have to suffer through a long tedious marketing campaign by Matchroom Boxing and DAZN for two fights that they have very little interest in seeing.
Moving forwards, if Canelo becomes the undisputed 168-pound champion in 2021, it’ll be exciting to see what his next move will be. Will Canelo continues to face guys like Yildrim, Callum Smith, and Saunders or will he give the boxing public fights that they want to see him in?
Given how much trouble Golovkin has given Canelo in the past, it’s likely that Canelo will continue to make him wait rather than facing him.
Another reason for Canelo to make Golovkin wait is to let him age more before facing him again so that he’s less dangerous. GGG will be turning 39 next April.
If Canelo puts GGG on deep freeze until 2022, he’ll be 40, and likely less trouble than he would be if he fights him in early 2021.
What we’re likely to see if Canelo is successful in beating Saunders and Plant to become the undisputed champion in 2021 is for him to face welterweight Errol Spence Jr in early 2022.
If Canelo beats Spence, he’ll face pressure from boxing fans to take on Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade, and, of course, Golovkin. Of those three, Andrade will likely come first because he’s less dangerous.
As far as former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez goes, he might be frozen out permanently by Canelos manager Eddy Reynoso because he’s a bad match-up for him, as is Bivol and Beterbiev.
Reynoso chose not to match Canelo against either of those two when he went up to 175 to capture a world title.