Image Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
He It’s fight week and boxing’s biggest draw, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez takes center stage.
Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) is widely considered the pound-for-pound King comes swiftly back to action after dominating Callum Smith in December.
He now defends the WBA (Super), The Ring, and WBC super middleweight titles he won against Turkey’s Avni Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) this weekend on DAZN.
“I feel very motivated to be in Miami and have this fight,” said Canelo. “And to put on a great show for the people there because I don’t just represent Mexico, I represent all Latinos.
The Mexican star is looking to become the first undisputed champion at 168lbs. It is also Canelo’s first fight as a champion in Florida and the 30 year old four weight class world champ understands his importance.
Canelo’s only fight in the Sunshine State was in December 2008. He fought Raul Pinzon in his 24th pro fight, and now with only a few state athletic commissions allowing boxing, he hopes that Saturday night’s event can be the first of many in Miami.
After all, he is fighting in the home venue of the Miami Dolphins.
“They only let us put 15,000 people in because of the pandemic, but with that we are fine. Last time in San Antonio it was around 12,000 and the stadium sounded like it was full.
“Let’s hope that normalcy will arrive soon, and the stadium can be filled, but with 15,000 I feel very good, and if there were 1,000 it would be the same, the support of the people is incredible, and I feel very grateful.”
The Yildrim Problem
However, Avni Yildrim is hoping to spoil Canelo’s Florida return.
Yildrim’s trainer, Joel Diaz said his fighter will go on the attack immediately and is looking for the knockout. Diaz believes that his fighter won’t be given a decision if it goes the full 12 rounds.
“Avni is going to give it his all. It’s either do or die,” said Diaz to Fight Hub about Yildirim’s attitude for his fight against Canelo.
“Sometimes you have a plan, but when you get in the ring and you feel the first hard punch, some people will cower down and some fighters will get their heat up and go for it and the plan goes out the window.
Yildrim, a former sparring partner for Alvarez, lost the two biggest fights of his career against Chris Eubank Jr. and Anthony Dirrell.
He is the most notable boxer in Turkish history since the late Sinan Samil Sam, who once fought former heavyweight world champion Oliver McCall.
Sam inspired a generation of Turkish boxers, including Yildirim won looks to upset boxing’s balance of power with a win over Alvarez.
“I fell in love with boxing at 13 years old,” Yildirim told ESPN. “My hero was Sinan Samil Sam. My father and I watched one of his fights in 2004 and I instantly became hooked. The next day I knew I wanted to become a boxer.”
Yildirim rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a national champion. He represented Turkey at the amateur level, eventually making his professional debut in March 2014.
“This is a special fight. This is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Yildirim’s promoter, Ahmet Oner, said at a news conference on Feb. 11. “This would be like [Turkish soccer club and perennial underdog] Sivasspor facing Barcelona in a Champions League final.”
Still there lies the task of defeating boxing’s current juggernaut who is also now his own promoter.
With fans back in attendance, the fight is more of Canelo’s to lose than for Yildrim’s to win.
“You do feel the vibe of the fans when they are yelling and that motivates you much more,” said Alvarez, “but you have to get into your head that in the end you are the only one up in the ring. I always prepare 100 per cent.”