Canelo vs. Yildirim and Estrada vs. Chocolatito preview by Eddie Hearn
By Barry Holbrook: Eddie Hearn is excited about his upcoming Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim card on February 27th and the Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez 2 card on March 13th on DAZN.
The Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn promotes superstar Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) as part of a two-fight deal with DAZN, and his match against the upset-minded Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) will be the first of two.
Canelo, 30, will be defending his WBA & WBC 168-lb titles against his WBC mandatory Yildirim at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Hearn says he expects a crowd of 15,000 to attend the event, and he’s looking forward to this match.
WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders could fly out and be in attendance for the Canelo-Yildirim fight so that they can announce the May 8th clash between him and Canelo immediately after.
We’ll have to see if that happens, though. Canelo still needs to beat the highly motivated Yildirim, who will be fighting for just the second time in two years.
Yildirim has a new trainer Joel Diaz, and he’s been working on fixing the holes in his game. The power has always been there for Yildirim, but his defense and decision-making has been a problem.
Canelo staying active
“It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing. “I think it’s a real statement from him, coming out, mixing it up, and fighting in Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium.
“To be promoting Canelo Alvarez at the home of the Miami Dolphins is pretty special. We’re going to have 15,000 people there. Avni Yildirim is the mandatory challenger.
“Great opportunity for him, and a great opportunity for Canelo to keep active and to make a statement hopefully head of a Billy Joe Saunders fight [on May 8th], and hopefully a huge night on February 27th.
“That’s the fight we’re working towards,” said Hearn about the Canelo vs. Saunders fight for May 8th. “I don’t think you’re going to see any commitment from Canelo Alvarez or an announcement before Avni Yildirim.
“That’s the focus for him and Eddy Reynoso, but certainly, they want to unify and become undisputed. Billy Joe Saunders is a belt-holder with the WBO.
“So that’s where Canelo Alvarez is looking next, and we’ll get Billy there on the night to announce the fight.”
Canelo will be a huge favorite against Yildirim, and this could be a mismatch unless the Turkish fighter has improved his game. Yildirim lost his last fight against Anthony Dirrell in 2019, and he also was stopped by Chris Eubank Jr in 2017.
Those defeats were a long time ago, and Yildirim is not the same fighter he was back then. With his new trainer Diaz, Yildirim is expected to be greatly improved, and he’s going to be looking to show those improvements.
Yildirim has always possessed world-class punching power, but his defense has held him back from capturing a world title. It’s going to be interesting to see how much he’s evolved under the tutelage of Diaz. Could Yildirim pull off an upset against Canelo? We’ll have to see.
Julio Cesar Martinez in action
“He’s ready, I think he’s one of the most exciting fighters in boxing right now,” Hearn said of WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez.
“Listen, the McWilliams Arroyo fight is a good fight. He’s mandatory, and it’s Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, but Julio Cesar Martinez is special.
“I think he can go through everyone in the division, and even move up to super fly and start looking at Estrada and Chocolatito.
“He’s so exciting. I can’t wait to see him fight in the flesh on February 27th. I’d just like to see him go through the division. Moruti Mthalane, the IBF champion, is an obvious choice.
“A WBA champion [Artem Dalakian] as well is a good competitive fight for him, but all the champions, he will fight anybody.
“Eddie Reynoso is really confident in his [Martinez] ability. I think he’s been out since August in his fight in Mexico. He was supposed to fight on the Canelo card in December.
“He should be hungry, and he should have ticked all the boxes. If he does, I think Arroyo is a fantastic amateur, a good pedigree, a very smart fighter.
“I just think the footwork, the strength, and the unpredictability for Julio Cesar Martinez will see him to victory on February 27th.
“Heavyweight boxing is always exciting,” Hearn said. “I’m really excited about Zhilei Zhang. I think he punches very hard, and he’s a southpaw.
“Obviously, he’ from China, and he’s something completely different for the division. He’s undefeated, and he’s stepping up through the levels. He had a good performance the last time out.
“Now e step up to Jerry Forrest. He’s a good heavyweight. I expect a good performance from Zhang. It’ll be a stunning performance, and hopefully, it’ll be from our man Zhang.
“I think he’s getting to the point where he needs to start thinking about fighting some of those guys in the top 15. Chisora is a great fight, Joseph Parker, Hrgovic.
“There are so many other options in the division, but if he beats Forrest, those are the type names he needs to look at this year,” Hearn said.
WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) and his WBC mandatory McWilliams Arroyo (20-4, 15 KOs) are the chief support for the Canelo vs. Yildirim card on February 27th at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Martinez, 26, is the favorite to win, but you can’t count out the highly talented 2008 Olympian Arroyo, who is fighting at a high level right now.
Arroyo has won his last three fights since losing to Kazuto Ioka in 2018. He’s also suffered losses to Roman Gonzalez and Amnat Ruenroeng. However, Arroyo has looked much improved as of late, impressively winning his last three.
In 2018, Arroyo defeated former WBC super flyweight champion Carlos Cuadras by a 10-round majority decision.
Hearn is confident Martinez will defeat Arroyo on February 27th. He’s already plotting his next move in looking to unify the 115-lb division against IBF champion Moruti Mthalane or WBA champ Artem Dalakian.
Estrada vs. Chocolatito 2 on March 13th
“The whole card on March 13th, it’s probably one of the best we’ve ever done,” said Hearn. “Everyone in boxing knows that Estrada against Chocolatito is the fight.
“It’s one of the fights of the year before the bell is even rung. Two legends, two pound-for-pound greats in a unification fight.
“What a card as well. It’s a great, great card topped by two legends, two absolute greats. As I said, it’s the fight. This fight is boxing.
“It’s everything about boxing or what’s great about boxing. Estrada wants to win; he wants to avenge that defeat and wants to unify the division.
“Chocolatito sprung back to life against Kal Yafai is all of a sudden thinking, ‘I want to go on.’ The winner will fight [Srisaket] Rungvisai.
“The great thing about that division. You think that Rungvisai will fight the winner of that fight, and it’ll be his third fight against either man.
“That’s what’s so great about rivalries when they rematch each other and fight for the third time.
“These guys deserve a lot of credit. March 13th in Dallas, you must not miss,” said Hearn about the Juan Estrada vs. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez rematch.
WBC super flyweight champion Juan Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) and the rejuvenated WBA champ Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) will meet in the main event on March 13th on DAZN from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Nine years ago, Roman Gonzalez defeated Estrada by a 12 round unanimous decision on November 17th, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. The fight was an exciting one, and it was decided on Chocolatito’s high work rate and his combination punching that made the difference.
Estrada has done well since then, winning 15 of his last 16 contests. The only loss Estada has suffered in the last nine years was against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in February 2018, but he avenged the defeat in 2019 with a 12 round decision victory.
Until recently, Gonzalez, 33, was viewed as past his prime after losing consecutive fights to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, but surprisingly, Chocolatito has turned things around with four straight wins.
A year ago, Chocolatito pulled off a big upset against WBA 115-lb champion Kal Yafai, stopping him in the ninth round in February 2020 in Frisco, Texas.
In his last fight, Gonzalez successfully defended his WBA strap in defeating Israel Gonzalez by a 12 round unanimous decision last October.
Many boxing fans believe that Estrada, 30, will have too much youth for Chocolatito to deal with in their rematch next month. Estrada is in the prime of his career right now and looking unbeatable against anyone in the 115-lb division.
For Gonzalez to defeat Estrada again, he’s going to need a good set of wheels to cut off the ring on him if he uses movement as he did in his two fights against Rungvisai.
Estrada doesn’t possess the ability to match Chocolatito punch for punch, so he’ll need to use the in and out attacking style that he employed successfully against Rungvisai for him to win. If Roman beats Estrada again, it would be an upset.
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