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Canelo Alvarez to defend against Avni Yildirim in U.S in February

Canelo Alvarez boxing photo

By Dan Ambrose: Canelo Alvarez’s title defense against his WBC mandatory Avni  ‘Mr. Robot’ Yildirim is being moved from Mexico to the United States for February on DAZN.

The pandemic in Mexico is making it necessary for WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) to move his fight against recently beaten Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) to the U.S, according to ESPN Deportes.

The idea is for Canelo get the fight against Yildirim out of the way in February in the U.S, and then face one of these three fighters in May on the Cinco de Mayo holiday on DAZN:

  • Billy Joe Saunders
  • Caleb Plant
  • Gennadiy Golovkin

Alvarez expected to fight Saunders in May

WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) is assumed to be the one that Canelo will fight in May because he’s arguably the easiest of the bunch.

Canelo Alvarez boxing photo

Canelo is likely to save Plant for September, and then potentially fight Golovkin in 2022. If Canelo chooses not to fight Golovkin next year, he’ll have to pick someone fans are interested in seeing him fight.

Unless Canelo is going to choose to make defenses against the contenders like John Ryder, Zach Parker, and David Lemieux, the fans are going to want to see him fight these fighters:

  • Jermall Charlo
  • David Benavidez
  • Demetrius Andrade
  • Edgar Berlanga
  • Dimitry Bivol
  • Artur Beterbiev
  • Bektemir Melikuziev

Canelo, 30, had previously hoped to stage the fight with Yildirim in his hometown in Guadalajara, Mexico. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

It’s a loss for Canelo’s Mexican boxing fans and a plus potentially for his American fans, who have been big supporters of him in Las Vegas, which is where he mostly fights.

The 168-pound champions lack popularity

While Canelo feels that becoming the undisputed champion at 168 will help his legacy, it’s not going to do much in the real sense in terms of attracting interest in his fights.

Fans are more interested in seeing compelling fights between popular fighters than they are in watching fighters taking on obscure beholders, who lack talent are unrecognizable to the average casual fan.

This is one of the major drawbacks to Canelo choosing to try and become the undisputed super middleweight champion. Fans don’t want to see Canelo face the little-known 29-year-old Yildirim, who hasn’t fought in two years and is coming off a loss to Anthony Dirrell in 2019.

That’s kind of hard to understand for the average boxing fan in how ‘Mr. Robot’ Yildirim is the mandatory after two years of inactivity and a loss to Dirrell.

For fans of other sports, they don’t quite understand how a fighter can fail his way into a title shot the way Yildirim is doing.

It’s a good reason for boxing to do away with the current sanctioning bodies and start from scratch with something different, so the sport isn’t dragged down with awful fights that shouldn’t be happening.

The Yildirim fight gives Canelo the chance to get an easy payday on DAZN without putting himself at risk of taking punishment or potentially losing if he was forced to fight a talented fighter like Edgar Berlanga.

Losing his way into mandatory spot

Yildirim has done nothing to earn the WBC mandatory spot at middleweight. He tried stepping it up a couple of times and was beaten down by Chris Eubank Jr and Anthony Dirrell.

Aside from those two attempts at facing world-class opposition, Yildirim’s wins have come against journeyman level fighters in the last four years against this bunch:

  • Lolenga Mock
  • Jose Antonio Rodriguez Silvencia
  • Ryan Ford
  • Derek Edwards
  • Attila Korda
  • Marco Antonio Periban
  • Aliaksandr Sushchyts

It’s sad that Canelo would rather fight guys like Yildirim rather than take on GGG in a trilogy fight to make more money, but there’s no risk in taking this fight.

Canelo Alvarez boxing photo

If Canelo were to fight Golovkin, there would be a chance of him losing. At the very least, they would be very punishing fights for Canelo, who was hurt by Golovkin in their rematch in 2018.

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