MIAMI – Canelo Alvarez hasn’t paid much mind to critics complaining about him fighting Avni Yildirim on Saturday night.
After hearing and reading some of their dismissive assessments of his dominant win against Callum Smith, Alvarez realizes there is a faction of fans and media he’ll never be able to satisfy. Alvarez’s adversaries have taken issue with perhaps the best boxer in the sport, pound-for-pound, opposing such a huge underdog.
Most Internet sports books list Alvarez as a 50-1 favorite to defeat Turkey’s Yildirim in the main event of a card DAZN will stream from Hard Rock Stadium in nearby Miami Gardens, home of the NFL’s Dolphins.
“I don’t have to give any explanation [for fighting Yildirim],” Alvarez told BoxingScene.com. “I really don’t have to give any explanation because they’re never gonna be happy with anything. I just fought number one at 168 pounds [Smith], and they’re not happy with that, either. So, I have nothing to say and nothing to explain. I don’t care.”
While heavily favored, Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) will return to the ring just 10 weeks after decisively defeating England’s Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) in their 12-rounder December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Mexico’s Alvarez also was required to fight Yildirim next as part of an agreement he and Smith made with the WBC when the Mexico City-based governing organization agreed to sanction their fight for its then-vacant 168-pound championship. Yildirim has long been the WBC’s mandatory challenger in the super middleweight division.
The WBC would’ve stripped the 30-year-old Alvarez had he not made a mandated defense against Yildirim next. Not only did Alvarez pay a sizeable sanctioning fee to fight for the WBC belt just two months ago, vacating it would’ve prohibited the four-division champion from pursuing full title unification at super middleweight.
The 29-year-old Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) hasn’t fought since losing a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell in February 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis. A cut above Dirrell’s left eye caused that premature stoppage after the 10th round and enabled Dirrell to regain the WBC super middleweight title, which was vacant because David Benavidez was stripped for testing positive for cocaine the previous August.
Benavidez regained that title from Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs), whom he knocked out in the ninth round of their September 2019 bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The WBC stripped Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) of his belt again after he came in nearly three pounds overweight for a title defense against Alexis Angulo on August 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
That enabled Alvarez and Smith to fight for the WBC belt four months later.
Before Dirrell defeated him, Yildirim had won five consecutive fights after Chris Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) knocked him out in the third round of their October 2017 fight in Stuttgart, Germany.
“I see a strong fighter,” Alvarez said of Yildirim. “I see a fighter that goes forward, obviously. He has lots of courage. He can be dangerous at any moment because he is a strong fighter. There’s no doubt that I am a fighter that has more qualities, obviously. But in boxing, you must always, always be aware.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.