As expected, Canelo Alvarez dominates in super-middleweight title fight vs. Avni Yildirim
Canelo Alvarez outclassed Avni Yildirim and retained his world super-middleweight titles with a technical knockout after Yildirim failed to answer the bell for the fourth round Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Alvarez, of Mexico, dropped the Turkish challenger with a left right combination to the head midway through the third round. Alvarez followed with additional combinations, pinning Yildirim on the ropes. Yildirim survived the round but absorbed sufficient punishment that forced his trainer Joel Diaz to stop the fight.
With the victory, Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) successfully defended his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association belts.
“I came and did what I had to do,” Alvarez said. “I had to win by knockout and I accomplished it.”
The fight headlined the first boxing event at 34-year-old Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.
In a methodical first round, Alvarez set the pace early with lead left jabs to the head and and lefts and right to the body.
Alvarez landed uppercuts and continued to score with combinations to the body in the second. Yildirim (21-3) rarely threw punches and the few he did, Alvarez blocked or slipped his shots. Alvarez stayed within punching range and increased his output but also was effective from distance and connected with a flush counter right to the head.
“It doesn’t matter if he is stronger or taller,” Alvarez said about Yildirim, who began his career at light-heavyweight before moving down to the 168-pound class. “It doesn’t matter if he has a good trainer. I came to do my job.”
Saturday’s bout was the first of what Alvarez hopes will be a busy year seeking unification fights. Alvarez said there have been preliminary conversations for a bout with Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organization titleholder, in May. Caleb Plant holds the fourth sanctioning body belt.
Inactive since Feb. 2019, Yildirim landed the match against Alvarez after the WBC designated him mandatory challenger.
Alvarez and Yildirim both weighed 167 pounds, a pound under the super-middleweight limit.
Earlier, Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo won a second-tier world flyweight title with a fifth-round technical knockout over late replacement Abraham Rodriguez. Arroyo originally was scheduled to challenge WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez but Martinez withdrew from the bout Thursday because of a hand injury.
Round 3: Canelo Alvarez defeats Avni Yildirim in anticlimactic finish
Canelo Alvarez starts off the round with a hard left hook that is partially blocked, but it still lands and causes damage, making Avni Yildirim stumble a bit.
Alvarez soon sits down on his shots and follows it up with a hard and straight left-right combo that drops Yildirim on his backside.
Yildirim laughs off the knockdown, but he’s clearly hurt. Yildirim survives the round. Trainer Joel Diaz threatens to stop the fight if Yildirim doesn’t show him anything. Seconds later, the fight is stopped, as Yildirim fails to get off his stool.
It was an anticlimactic finish for Alvarez, but it was the ending everyone expected as Alvarez remained victorious in a stay-busy fight.
Next up for Alvarez is a Cinco de Mayo weekend showdown on May 8 against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, as the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine champion Alvarez looks to further unify the super-middleweight division.
Round 2: Canelo Alvarez continues to dominate
Canelo Alvarez starts off the second round strong with vicious uppercuts, followed by jabs and thudding left hooks to the liver. Alvarez’s timing, patience and power is impeccable thus far.
Avni Yildirim appears to be a helpless and a stationary target for Alvarez, who is essentially participating in high stakes target practice at this point.
Yildirim is not answering with anything at all. He might as well be a heavy bag with legs.
Round 1: Canelo Alvarez lands a couple big punches
Canelo Alvarez’s epic seven-minute ring walk from pop artist J Balvin concludes and he unveils his Miami Vice-inspired pink hues on his trunks and gloves.
Alvarez lands the first big punch of the night, a looping left hook to the head of Avni Yildirim, and it’s later followed to the body. Alvarez throws and lands just enough to win the round easily.
Yildirim has shown very little interest in engaging so far and making this a fight.
Yildirim will have to turn in a perfect game to beat Alavrez. Let’s see if he throws a pitch after a slow start.
Canelo Alvarez slowly makes his way to the ring
The Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight is very close to starting. Alvarez is making his way to the ring at Hard Rock Stadium as Yildirim patiently awaits.
Welcome to Miami: Celebrities aren’t scarce at Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight
The A-listers are showing up in Miami tonight.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim is coming up next.
Matchroom Boxing officials told The Times on Friday that the main event ring walk is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. PT.
McWilliams Arroyo wins interim WBC flyweight title over Abraham Rodriguez
Canelo Alvarez’s stablemate in WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez suffered a hand injury and had to pull out Thursday of his title defense, and in stepped Abraham Rodriguez (27-3, 13 KOs) as an 11th-hour replacement to take on McWilliams Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) in the co-main event attraction.
The two-time title challenger Arroyo proved to be ready for his crowning moment, scoring a fourth-round knockdown and a fifth-round stoppage in a one-sided affair.
Arroyo was clearly the stronger, more dominant fighter, landing a total of 100 punches and absorbing just 28 in return from his late-replacement opponent.
Rodriguez’s corner saw their fighter take enough damage in the fifth and stopped the fight before the 26-year-old was broken beyond repair.
Jerry Forrest knocked down thrice but rallies to pull off split draw against Zhilei Zhang
Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1, 17 KOs) chopped down Jerry Forrest (26-4-1, 20 KOs) for the first three rounds, knocking him down once in each stanza. The Chinese heavyweight, however, couldn’t close the show in style, allowing for the American to mount a comeback toward the end of the match to make it a competitive affair, and ultimately, a split draw decision.
The toe-to-toe affair ended with one judge awarding Forrest with a 95-93 decision, while the other two judges had it 93-93.
The 37-year-old Zhang, a 2008 Olympics silver medalist and a 2012 Olympian, started off strong but eventually gassed once Forrest, 32, started to rally. Zhang suffered a gash above his right eyebrow when he was tired and leaning forward with his head in the eighth round.
In the ninth round, Zhang was deducted a point for excessive holding.
In the tenth and final round, Zhang appeared to be wilting away and ready to go out as Forrest willed his way to win the round, rocking his opponent several times.
Zhang’s body language was that of a beaten fighter in the final seconds, as he turned his back to Forrest and desperately held his hands by his head to protect himself.
Forrest appeared to be proud of his performance, pulling off a backflip after the final bell and celebrating once the split draw was announced.
‘One Night in Miami’ … 2021 edition
Big-time boxing is back in Miami.
South Beach isn’t presently known for staging shows featuring the sweet science, but Canelo Alvarez is looking to test a new market in the Sunshine State after a homecoming fight in Mexico fell through due to the pandemic.
Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., home of the NFL’s Dolphins, will be scaled to host 15,000 fans to watch Alvarez defend his 168-pound titles against Avni Yildirim.
Miami is also where one of the most exhilarating bouts in boxing history took place featuring Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello at the then-named Orange Bowl on Nov. 12, 1982.
No matter how Alvarez’s fight turns out, the most prolific boxing performance in Miami history will belong to a 22-year-old boxing star named Cassius Clay, who won the heavyweight title for the first time by making Sonny Liston quit on his stool.
The career-defining moment took place on Feb. 25, 1964 at the Miami Beach Convention Hall, and the events after the fight, when Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown spent a night socializing in a Miami motel room, served as inspiration for Oscar-winning actress Regina King’s first foray as a director in the Amazon film “One Night in Miami” released earlier this year.
One Night in Miami trailer.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim expert picks and predictions
This might be strange to say about a fighter who never had a real peak, but Yildirim looks shot. Since a devastating third-round knockout loss to Chris Eubank Jr., he’s looked a step slower. Not that he had much of a chance anyway. Yildirim is too slow and technically unrefined to outbox Alvarez and he doesn’t have the power to stop him, either. He’s also more than two years removed from his last fight, which was a loss. I don’t mind stay-busy fights, but I would have liked for this to be on a channel to which more people have access. Alvarez can stop him whenever he wants, but my guess is that he’ll let Yildirim stick around for a few rounds. Alvarez by fourth-round knockout.
—Dylan Hernández, L.A. Times sports columnist
Avni Yildirim could be the weakest opponent in Canelo Alvarez’s four-fight plan for 2021. He has questionable power and very few arguments against Canelo’s speed and technique. Even though he’s bigger and taller than the Mexican fighter, Yildirim hasn’t fought in nearly two years and the last time he won a fight was in late 2018. Alvarez might not be the “best pound-for-pound” but he is one of the best boxers in the world, and he should quickly take care of this opponent, just like Chris Eubank Jr. did in 2017. Yildirim will get caught with power shots that might end the fight early. On the other hand, Alvarez has had an obsession with defensive work in his last few fights and if he feels comfortable enough, he will turn this fight into a sparring session that should end in the late rounds. Either way, there is very little room for a surprise.
— Eduard Cauich, L.A.Times en Español sports editor
The question is not if Saul Alvarez will win the fight against Avni Yildirim, it is when and how long it will take him. Canelo is by far a more advanced, stronger and quicker fighter. Yildirim has fought a few great battles, he’s a brawler and has some resistance to punches, but that won’t be enough against the four-weight champion. Yildirim might have an idea on how Canelo moves, after they both sparred back in 2018, but even that won’t be enough for Yildirim. The Mexican will win it by KO or TKO by the fifth round.
— Jad El Reda, L.A. Times en Español sports editor
California prospects Diego Pacheco, Marc Castro come up golden on Canelo Alvarez undercard
Promising Fresno-based phenom Marc Castro (2-0, 2 KOs) delivered a one-sided beating to MMA fighter-turned-boxer John Moraga (1-3, 1 KO), dropping Moraga seven seconds into the fight. He then dominated Moraga 59-9 on punch count before dropping him twice more in the second round to score the knockout.
Perhaps Moraga is better suited for the cage, where he has a 19-7 MMA record and 14 UFC appearances.
South Central L.A.-based prospect Diego Pacheco (11-0, 8 KOs) continued to progress nicely by winning a competitive scrap versus Rodolfo Gomez Jr. (14-4-1, 10 KOs) in a super-middleweight affair.
Pacheco won via unanimous decision with scores of 79-73 on all three judge’s cards.
The cagey Gomez, who had never been stopped in his career, proved to be a formidable foe, but Pacheco was reasonably better with his power and technique.
Pacheco landed a total of 117 punches, while Gomez countered with 70 of his own.
The fight went the full eight rounds, the longest bout of the soon-to-be 20-year-old Pacheco’s career.
Also fighting tonight is …
Key storylines for the Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight
Catch up on some of the key storylines ahead of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Saturday.
Canelo Alvarez talks about his career in boxing.
Canelo Alvarez and Avni Yildirim go face to face
Canelo Alvarez and Avni Yildirim talk about their upcoming fight during a news conference.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim live chat tonight
Have you ever wanted to punch up some questions as you watch others get punch drunk?
Fidel Martinez, The Times’ audience engagement editor and editor of the Latinx Files newsletter, will be moderating a live chat before and during the Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight. The live chat starts at 6:30 p.m. PST.
The Times’ sports columnist Dylan Hernandez, as well as special guests Roberto José Andrade Franco and Albert Perez, will be part of the pugilistic-centric panel.
The group will talk about the current state of boxing and take questions from the audience through Twitter.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim tale of the tape
Age: 30 (July 18, 1990)
Residence: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Record: 54-1-2, 36 KOs
World championship fights: 15-1-1, 8 KOs
Total rounds fought: 414
Height: 5 foot 8
Reach: 70.5 inches
Weight: 168 pounds
Manager: Jose “Chepo” Reynoso
Trainer: Edison “Eddy” Reynoso
Notable wins: Callum Smith, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, Rocky Fielding, Gennady Golovkin (one draw as well), Julio César Chávez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Josesito López, Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintrón and Matthew Hatton.
Notable loss: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A look at some of Canelo Alvarez’s biggest punches and greatest knockouts.
Age: 29 (August 5, 1991)
Residence: Istanbul, Turkey
Record: 21-2, 12 KOs
World championship fights: 0-1
Total rounds fought: 132
Height: 5 feet 11.5 inches
Reach: 70 inches
Manager: Ahmet Oner
Trainer: Joel Diaz
Notable wins: Glen Johnson
Notable losses: Chris Eubank Jr. and Anthony Dirrell
Canelo Alvarez discusses weigh-in, fight with Avni Yildirim
Keyshawn Davis skipped Olympics to turn pro, and he makes debut in knockout fashion
Keyshawn Davis was considered to be the cream of the crop for the United States Olympic boxing team for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
But since the pandemic derailed his amateur plans, the touted prospect recently struck a deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and decided to turn pro instead of letting his plans for gold play out in Tokyo this summer.
Davis promptly made his professional debut Saturday night and knocked out Lester Brown in the second round.
The Norfolk, Virginia-based Davis was a national Golden Gloves champion in 2017 and is an American standout to keep an eye on moving forward.
He’ll turn 22 on Sunday, and he celebrated his special day in style.
In other action, super-middleweight prospect Alexis Espino (7-0, 5 KOs) rocked and stopped Ashton Sykes (5-4, 1 KO) in a fifth-round knockout.
Aaron Aponte (2-0, 1 KO) scored a fourth-round knockdown and easy unanimous decision win over Harry Gigliotti (6-2, 3 KOs).
Who is Avni Yildirim, the fighter taking on Canelo Alvarez tonight?
If you haven’t Googled “Avni Yildirim” yet, we’re here to help optimize your search intentions.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re unfamiliar with the 29-year-old Turkish fighter nicknamed “Mr. Robot,” because Yildirim’s resume is missing a meaningful win, and this will mark just the third time he’s fighting in the United States.
The seven-year professional trains out of Indio, Calif., with respected coach Joel Diaz, and they will be working together for the first time looking to deconstruct the pound-for-pound great Canelo Alvarez.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 knockouts) is a former sparring partner of Alvarez and helped the Mexican star prepare for his rematch with Gennady Golovkin in 2018. At the time, Yildirim had just knocked out Jose Antonio Rodriguez Silvencia, holder of a 3-31-3 record.
Alvarez will now try to escape all of the makings of a trap fight that he picked instead of vacating a title and saving himself a total of $500,000 in sanctioning fees.
He shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Yildirim has come up short both times he’s stepped up in class. He suffered his first career defeat to Chris Eubank Jr. in 2017 in a third-round knockout. In his last fight in April 2019 against then-WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell, Yildirim dropped a 10th-round technical decision after Dirrell was cut above the eye because of a seventh-round head clash.
At the time of the stoppage, Dirrell was up 96-94 on two cards and Yildirim was up 98-92 on the other.
Shortly after the fight, Yildirim tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs.
Yildirim’s performance against Dirrell — and eventual patience with sanctioning body semantics — was strong enough to have him firmly planted by the WBC as a mandatory challenger.
Consider Yildirim to be at the right place at the right time because Alvarez just picked up the vacant WBC belt in December when he beat Callum Smith. The belt was vacated by David Benavidez after he missed weight in an August fight, and was previously won when Benavidez beat Dirrell after the Yildirim fight.
Yildirim is promising that he’s not simply showing up to collect a paycheck after a near two-year layoff.
“I always give my all — and everybody should be ready to see a war,” Yildirim said. “He’s a big champion, everyone knows that. I’m ready for the world championship title for the big chance. It’s my time. Saturday, for everyone, it’s showtime.”
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Alvarez’s foes need to catch lightning in a bottle in order to beat him.
Yildirim, who was born in Istanbul, is seemingly the man for the job, at least by definition.
“Yildirim” translates to “lightning” from Turkish to English.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim betting odds
Canelo Alvarez is listed as a -5000 favorite in most of the regulated U.S. sportsbooks, while Yildirim is a +1400 underdog.
DraftKings is forcing betters to pay a 100/1 price to bet on an Alvarez victory.
For additional context, Yildirim will be a heavier underdog than Buster Douglas was when he knocked out 42-to-1 favorite Mike Tyson in 1990.
Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations at DraftKings, told The Times he doesn’t expect a competitive match, and that betting the actual round the fight will finish might be a gambler’s best path to getting in on some action.
“Canelo is such a large price, and that’s the fear of the bettor,” Avello said. “There is no value in betting Canelo. You have to put up too much money to win a little amount. I expect people to bet on the props and the rounds. We have it up at 4 ½ rounds. Canelo pretty much looks like a sure thing, doesn’t he?”
If you really have a gambling itch that needs to be scratched, perhaps consider a futures bet that Alvarez will fight and knock out Gennadiy Golovkin in a trilogy before the Kazakh KO artist retires.
History-minded Canelo Alvarez fighting for super middleweight supremacy
Every so often star boxers are served snacks to suffice their fighting appetite, and for Canelo Alvarez, Saturday’s fixing consists of a Turkish delight in the unheralded Avni Yildirim.
Alvarez is supposed to devour the mandatory challenger from the Middle East with might unknown to mankind in a defense of his 168-pound WBC title against at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on DAZN and pay-per-view.
Such are the expectations when you’re the sport’s pound-for-pound kingpin and a 50-to-1 favorite against a stationary fighter devoid of defense.
A victory by Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 knockouts) is uniformly considered to be a formality over a former sparring partner who helped him prepare to fight Gennady Golovkin in a 2018 rematch.
Beating Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) won’t be a hallmark win, but boxing’s biggest superstar has his sights set on history as he maneuvers toward super middleweight supremacy.
Alvarez holds the WBA and Ring Magazine titles in addition to the WBC belt, and by the end of the year, he wants to clean out the division with fights against WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders and IBF champion Caleb Plant.
Should he successfully run through the gauntlet, he’ll become the first Mexican to be undisputed super middleweight champion in boxing history.
“It’s important for me and [trainer and manager Eddy Reynoso] because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions,” said Alvarez. “And that’s a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds … Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history. It’s very important to me to leave behind a legacy in this sport. And that’s why we’re doing this. To keep making history and so when people talk about boxing, they always remember me.”
Alvarez is fighting for the second time in 70 days after he was forced to sit for 13 months because of the global pandemic and a legal spat and eventual divorce from Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Alvarez beat Callum Smith in December.
The immense activity Alvarez has alluded to also mirrors that of De La Hoya, who was the last pound-for-pound great to fight as many times as his former understudy plans on when he finished 1997 with a 5-0 record.
Since Alvarez now steers his own ship, he’s decided to dock in South Florida for a stay-busy fight, seemingly making up for lost purses.
Although Alvarez is slated for a seemingly easy victory, he isn’t presenting it that way.
“I respect all fighters. I respect the challenger that’s in front of me right now,” said Alvarez. “I know he’s a strong fighter. I know he has a lot of tools. I have the same mentality. I’m trying to do my job, and I’m trying to make history.”
Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim: How to watch the fight
If you’re not one of the 15,000 fans who have tickets to watch the Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim fight at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., we’d like to point you to alternative options to consume your pugilistic programming.
The fight can be streamed on DAZN. A monthly subscription in the United States is $19.99, while an annual plan is $99.99.
The event also can be purchased via pay-per-view for $49.99 through cable operators, and customers will receive a promo code for a four-month DAZN subscription as part of the transaction.
Coverage starts at 4 p.m PST, and the ring walks for the main event are scheduled to begin at 7:35 p.m. PT.
It’ll mark the second time this month that Florida has hosted a major sporting event, with Super Bowl LV attended by 25,000 fans being the other.
If you’re in the mood to watch the fight at a bar or restaurant, pop in your zip code at Joe Hand Promotions to see the nearest locations showing the fight.
Here’s how the undercard will unfold:
McWilliams Arroyo vs. Abraham Rodriguez for the interim WBC flyweight title (co-main event)
Zhang Zhilei vs. Jerry Forrest in a heavyweight fight
Diego Pacheco vs. Rodolfo Gomez Jr. in a super middleweight match
Alexis Espino vs. Ashton Sykes in a super middleweight meeting
Keyshawn Davis vs. Lester Brown in a junior lightweight clash
Aaron Aponte vs. Harry Gigliotti in a junior welterweight scrap