On Saturday, February 27, 2021, Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) set out to defend his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super Middleweight titles against WBC mandatory challenger, Avni Yidirim (21-3 12 KOs).
The Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, played host, while DAZN streamed the bout live in over 200 countries and territories.
It was less than two months ago that Canelo officially cemented himself as a force in the 168-pound division with a dominant win over the previously unbeaten champion, Callum Smith in San Antonio, Texas.
While Canelo and head trainer Eddy Reynoso had made it clear that unifying all four major titles at 168 pounds was the ultimate goal, they also wanted to stress to fans that Yildirim was a mandatory and that the fight was necessary in order to satisfy the WBC.
“On February 27, we take the next step in our journey to unify the Super Middleweight division,” said Reynoso, before the fight.
Regardless of who the opponent was, the fight week and Saturday night belonged to Canelo–and maybe a little to J Balvin who put on a ridiculous performance before walking Canelo into the ring.
After the three anthems and full-on concert by J Balvin, it was time for Canelo and Yildirim to actually come to blows–but apparently the Turkish fighter was not ready.
One can only imagine the amount of nerves of a fighter must feel, standing across the ring from the star of the show.
Not only that, Yildirim and his trainer Joel Diaz had talked a good game heading into the bout, so once that first bell rang there was a high interest level waiting to see if Yildirim would make the champion uncomfortable like he promised.
Unfortunately, the moment, the style and opponent were too much for Avni Yildirim.
To recap the first round, you only need to know that Yildirim landed 1 out of 29 punches (according to CompuBox). You read that correctly.
And if you want a recap of the entire fight, you only need to know that Canelo outlanded Yildirim 67 to 11 in six minutes (according to CompuBox).
It was total domination from start to finish as Canelo threw precise liver shots and uppercuts, which snapped Yildirim’s head back often.
In Round 3, Canelo measured Yildirim and landed a beautiful and stiff one-two combination which dropped the overmatched fighter to the canvas.
After three rounds of solid body work from Canelo and little in return from Yildirim, trainer Joel Diaz had pretty much seen enough.
Usually the, “if you don’t show me something I’m going to stop it” talk happens after a prolonged beat down–not after Round 3.
But, Yildirim was offering nothing up, and Diaz was correct in his assessment as he stopped the fight before the start of Round 4.
“I did what I had to do,” said Canelo after the fight. “I needed to knock out and that’s what I did.”
After the glorified sparring session that was Canelo vs. Yildirim, Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing already had the promo video set up to promote Canelo’s next fight, which will be against WBO Super Middleweight titleholder, Billy Joe Saunders.
For those spectators who are simply casual boxing fans and only come around to watch Canelo fight, Saunders is a challenge and a real fight.
Although Canelo is at the top of his game and is rightfully the favorite to win, Saunders is certainly one of the better 168-pound fighters in the world.