Just 72 days after his masterful performance against Callum Smith the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight champion and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) is back this weekend. The consensus pound for pound number one takes on contender Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) at the home of the Miami Dolphins, the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Florida.
Primarily, I think it’s refreshing to see Canelo, a man who hasn’t had two fights inside a month period since 2010, staying active and defending his titles. Last year was a year of stalling and inactivity where all the intricate plans of world boxing’s major stars were disrupted. With Tyson Fury unable to have a fight since the pandemic and Anthony Joshua only being able to fight Kubrat Pulev it has fallen to one flame haired Mexican to keep boxing at the center of the sporting conversation.
Being able to witness a practitioner as proficient as Canelo be this prolific is a privilege. Considering the financial stakes and complexity of organizing the Canelo circus, his fighting regularly harks back to the golden eras of boxing and should be commended as such.
The flip side to this activity though, is the quality of opponent that can be drawn up on such short notice. Although Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders is the highest caliber of opponent his reluctance to take short notice fights is well documented. The task then falls to a second tier opponent, Turkey’s Avni Yildrim.
‘Mr. Robot’, has twice before challenged for world honours, in his two most high profile fights. In 2017 he entered the World Boxing Super Series and faced Chris Eubank Jr for the IBO Super Middleweight, losing emphatically by third round knockout. His second world title tilt was in 2019 for the same vacant WBC title fight he will fight for on Saturday. In a bizzare bout, he lost a technical decision after Dirrell was unable to continue after a cut caused by an accidental head clash, making him 0-2 in title fights.
Juxtapose this with the man he will be facing whose record in World title fights is 15-1-1 against a parade of some of the 21st centuries most decorated champions, and he measures up short.
Boxing’s fans therefore have a choice to make about their interest in the fight, are you willing to stomach a mismatch in favour of seeing a great fighter more often? Constant quality but inactivity, or varied quality and regular activity? I personally favour the latter, and although I predict a comfortable victory for Canelo, I for one will be glad to watch it.
Aside from the main event there is a talent rich undercard. Explosive WBC Flyweight Champion Julio Cesar Martinez defends his title against experienced challenger McWilliams Arroyo. Wild and raw Martinez is a really player at the lower weights and a huge event like this could be his launch pad to an enormous.
22-0 Chinese Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang also features in his first real test against the tough Jerry Forrest. Three hot prospects also appear as the freakishly proportioned Diego Pacheco looks to steal the show ahead of former amateur stars Marc Castro and Keyshawn Davis.