Canelo Alvarez is ready for his homecoming.
Boxing’s pound-for-pound kingpin plans on returning to the ring on February 27 to fight 168-pound WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in his birthplace of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Alvarez’s trainer and manager Eddy Reynoso told BoxingScene.com.
“Yildirim is the next opponent for Canelo due to the WBC mandatory protocol,” Reynoso said in an interview with BoxingScene. “Yildirim is a very good fighter and is willing to fight the best. If Yildirim is able to do it, we’re willing to do it too. Why not?”
Fresh off a unanimous decision victory over Callum Smith that secured him the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine super middleweight titles, Alvarez is wasting little time to make his mandatory defense of the vacant WBC title he picked up after he was forced to the sidelines for more than 13 months.
Should Alvarez come away successful and healthy fighting Yildirim, it will put him back on track to fight on his traditional dates of Cinco De Mayo and Mexican Independence Day.
The three opponents who will be considered for the two dates are Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders and Gennadiy Golovkin, said Reynoso. A fight with Golovkin would have to take place at 168 pounds.
Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) is a promotional and network free agent, and it’s not yet known which paths he’ll pursue with Yildirim, who is promoted by Ahmet Oner. Alvarez’s fight against Smith took place on DAZN and was promoted by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.
Reynoso said they’re currently properly planning around pandemic protocols and venues like Estadio Jalisco and Los Charros’ Baseball Stadium are under consideration.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) has been inactive since February 2019 and is mostly unknown outside of boxing circles. He last fought Anthony Dirrell and lost via 10th round technical decision in a main event fight televised on FOX. The Turk was coming on strong in the final rounds before the bout was stopped due to a cut. Yildirim was up on one of the judges’ scorecards when the fight was called off. Months afterward, Yildirim tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs.
Alvarez has fought exclusively in the United States ever since scoring a fifth-round stoppage win against Kermit Cintron in 2011 at the Monumental Plaza de Toros in Mexico City.
Alvarez’s first 21 professional bouts took place in his home country.
“He has wanted to fight in Mexico for a long time. He’s a tremendous, important icon for the country,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán told a group of reporters Tuesday including BoxingScene.com. “He’s the best fighter in the world. He represents so much for Mexico, and he wants to give a great moment of happiness to the country.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com