By Pete Strauss: Canelo Alvarez will be defending his WBC super middleweight title against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on February 27th on DAZN at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Given that the large Hard Rock Stadium has been booked for this fight, we could have a large crowd. The seating capacity is 65,326.
It’s unclear how many fans will be permitted to attend the fight. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said this week that Florida is one of the states in the U.S that is allowing fans for sporting events right now.
Alvarez, 30, has received a huge backlash ever since it was revealed that he would be defending against his WBC mandatory Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) in February.
Canelo satisfying his WBC mandatory requirements
The boxing fans are particularly upset about the fact that Yildirim lost his last fight against Anthony Dirrell, and they’re unhappy that he hasn’t fought in two years.
Other than his loss to Dirrell, Yildirim is arguably best known for losing to Chris Eubank Jr by a third-round knockout in the World Boxing Super Series tournament in October 2017.
Their argument is, ‘how can Yildirim be the WBC mandatory when he’s coming off a loss and he hasn’t fought in two years?’ Canelo obviously isn’t the one that made the decision for the 29-year-old Yildirim to be made the WBC 168-lb mandatory.
That decision was made by the World Boxing Council, who decided that Yildirim’s last fight with Dirrell ended in a controversial manner. The fight was stopped after ten rounds due to a bad cut that Dirrell suffered. At the time of the stoppage, Yildirim was coming on and seemingly in the driver’s seat.
Alvarez has no choice but to fight Yildirim if he wants to become the undisputed super middleweight champion. This fight is unavoidable for Canelo, as Yildirim is his WBC mandatory.
Would Canelo be better off vacating the WBC title?
You can’t question Canelo on him defending against his mandatory, because he would be stripped of his WBC title if he failed to make this defense.
What you can give Alvarez grief about is his decision to attempt to become the undisputed 168-lb champion. That move by Canelo has ‘opportunist’ written all over it, for that reason that the super middleweight division isn’t well-represented right now in terms of champions.
What I mean is, the champions at 168 are a mediocre bunch, starting with Callum Smith, who Canelo beat by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision last month on December 19th.
Even the mandatory challengers are weak, with the WBC making Yildirim their top guy rather than former champion David Benavidez.
The other two champions at super middleweight, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, have talent, but not much power. Canelo has a good chance of beating both of those fighters.
Alvarez would gain more boxing fans and cement his legacy if he were to vacate his WBC title and forget about trying to become the undisputed champion at 168.
Canelo thinks he’s achieving by becoming the undisputed champion won’t be valued by fans of this era. If this were the 1950s, people would assign more value to a fighter like Canelo, becoming an undisputed champion.
Fans are jaded now, numb to countless titles that are available to fighters. They don’t value fighters holding multiple belts as they did in the past.
What’s important to fans now is the quality of opposition. In other words, Canelo would get a lot more respect and attention from fans if he were to take on a tough fighter with talent and appeal.
Alvarez with more to gain by facing the best
Canelo would get a lot more traction in 2021 if he utilized his time facing Jermall Charlo, Golovkin, Andrade, Benavidez, and Edgar Berlanga.
For some reason, Canelo didn’t show interest in becoming the undisputed champion at 160 and 175 despite capturing world titles in those two weight classes.
Some boxing fans surmise that Canelo lacks the confidence and talent to try and defeat these fighters to become the undisputed champion at middleweight and light heavyweight:
- Gennadiy Golovkin – IBF 160lb champ
- Demetrius Andrade – WBO 160lb champion
- Jermall Charlo – WBC 160-lb champ
- Artur Beterbiev – IBF/WBC light heavyweight champ
- Dimitry Bivol – WBA 175-lb champ
By attempting to become the undisputed champion at 168, Canelo is reaching for the lowest-hanging fruit in which he doesn’t risk losing and hurting his legacy.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom will be promoting Canelo’s next two fights against Yildirim, and likely WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. The Canelo – Billy Joe clash is being pegged for the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend next May.
If Canelo gets past Yildirim, he and Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) will meet with three titles on the line in May. That fight will play out big in the UK, but it won’t have the same interest from U.S boxing fans, who aren’t familiar with Saunders.
The casual U.S fans don’t know who Saunders is, and hardcore fans aren’t particularly enthralled with his fighting style.
“Canelo Alvarez has agreed to a deal with Matchroom Boxing for a Feb. 27 super middleweight title defense vs. Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The event will be streamed globally on DAZN,” said @MikeCoppinger.