MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – Canelo Alvarez annihilated Avni Yildirim in completely predictable, swift fashion Saturday night.
Alvarez, arguably boxing’s best pound-for-pound, overpowered his overmatched mandatory challenger until Yildirim’s trainer, Joel Diaz, stopped their scheduled 12-round fight after a one-sided third round. Referee Telis Assimenios officially halted their scheduled 12-round bout just before the fourth round began in the main event of an eight-fight card at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Mexico’s Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs), who went off as a 50-1 favorite, retained his WBA and WBC super middleweight titles. He knocked down Turkey’s Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) with a right hand in the third round and appeared well on his way to a knockout victory had Diaz not stopped the fight.
“It’s great to be active,” Alvarez told DAZN’s Chris Mannix in the ring after his easy victory. “It’s wonderful to be here in Miami. And I wanted to have a great fight here. [This was a guy] I needed to knock out, and that’s what I did. I did what I had to do.”
Alvarez, 30, fought for the second time in just 10 weeks and fulfilled his mandatory obligation with the WBC. The Mexican icon also scored his quickest stoppage since he knocked out James Kirkland in the third round of their May 2015 bout at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Yildirim, 29, suffered the second knockout defeat of his six-year pro career. England’s Chris Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) was the first fighter to knock out Yildirim, who lost to Eubank by third-round TKO in October 2017 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Alvarez successfully defended the WBA and WBC 168-pound championships he won two months ago by beating Callum Smith. The Guadalajara native dominated England’s Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) and won a unanimous decision in their 12-rounder December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Now that he has made a mandated defense of his WBC belt, Alvarez will battle WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) on May 8 at a site to be determined. Promoter Eddie Hearn, who officially announced the Alvarez-Saunders fight after Alvarez beat Yildirim, told BoxingScene.com that their title unification fight will take place either at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas or AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I’ll fight anyone,” Alvarez said of unifying the titles in the super middleweight division. “I fight the best. I always fight the best. I’ll fight the best at 168. It doesn’t matter, and here I am, making history. I had to fight against Yildirim to have the opportunity to unify at 168. … I had to do it to maintain and keep my title.”
Against Yildirim, Alvarez landed a thudding left hook to the body barely 30 seconds into the third round. A picture-perfect, straight right hand by Alvarez sent Yildirim crashing to the canvas with just over two minutes to go in the third round.
A staggered Yildirim got up and tried to fight back, much to his detriment. Alvarez continued hammering him with mostly unanswered power shots, as the slower Yildirim occasionally fired back.
Yildirim managed to make it to the end of the round, though that wasn’t necessarily good for him.
Alvarez’s right uppercut turned around Yildrim’s head about 23 seconds into the second round. A straight right hand by Alvarez penetrated Yildirim’s guard about 1:15 into the second round.
Alvarez’s vicious left hook to the body was followed by a hard right up top with just under a minute remaining in the second round.
Both boxers were cautious throughout the first round. Alvarez threw a few body shots at Yildirim in that round, but otherwise was inactive.
Referee Telis Assimenios warned Alvarez about a minute into their fight for hitting Yildirim low with a left hook to the body.
Before Alvarez knocked him out, Yildirim hadn’t boxed in more than two years. He became the WBC’s mandatory challenger after losing a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell in February 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis.
Dirrell, of Flint, Michigan, was ahead on two scorecards (96-94, 96-94, 92-98) when their fight was stopped following the 10th round due to a cut above Dirrell’s left eye, which was caused by an accidental head-butt. Yildirim and Dirrell fought for a then-vacant WBC super middleweight title, which David Benavidez vacated because he tested positive for cocaine.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.