Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Avni Yildirim have two more weeks to discuss a fight which nobody seems to want.
The two boxers are in contention for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super middleweight title, with such a fight heading to a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights for the contest. The session was due to take place September 21, only for the Mexico City-based sanctioning body to push back the date to October 6.
“The WBC is officially confirming the postponement of the purse offer ceremony for the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim fight for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight championship,” confirmed the WBC in a statement on Sunday evening. “The new date has been set for Tuesday October 6 and will be conducted on an open video conference.”
The bout was officially ordered on August 18, following approval from the WBC Board of Governors who voted 36-1 in favor of Guadalajara’s Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) being permitted to challenge for the now-vacant title. The ruling came four days after the belt’s previous claimant, David Benavidez was stripped of his title status for missing weight on August 14, one day prior to stopping Alexis Angulo in 10 one-sided rounds.
Istanbul’s Yildirim (21-2, 12KOs) was due a mandatory title shot heading into the night, expecting to face Benavidez later this year. Instead, he was ordered to enter talks with Alvarez, who was permitted a place in line due to his status as WBC “Franchise” champion which was bestowed upon him last June.
Negotiations never evolved past preliminary discussion by the time the deadline arrived, prompting the WBC to call for a purse bid hearing.
In that time, Alvarez—who has claimed championships at 154-, 160- and 175-pounds—has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit versus Golden Boy Promotions, company founder and chairman Oscar de la Hoya and sports-streaming service DAZN-USA. The case was conditionally rejected though with room for an amended filing with a September 28 deadline.
Alvarez is claiming damages in excess of $280 million—the remaining amount of the existing contract between Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN-USA for his in-ring services as part of an 11-fight, $365 million pact signed in October 2018.
Needless to say, any fight involving the global superstar is problematic for the time being.
Prior to the lawsuit, DAZN-USA was adamant in its disinterest in financing a fight between Alvarez and Yildirim. That stance could change, especially considering some of the bouts they plan to greenlight in the coming months. Of course, it would also require some form of resolution between Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions, the latter whom for the time being remains his promoter of record.
Alvarez has not fought since an 11th round knockout of Sergey Kovalev to claim the WBO light heavyweight title last November in Las Vegas. His reign lasted all of 45 days, vacating the title upon his quest to capture a genuine title at super middleweight—having won a secondary version in a 3rd round knockout of Rocky Fielding in December 2018.
Yildirim has been out of the ring since a technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell in their vacant WBC super middleweight title fight last February. The disputed nature in which the fight ended warranted a rematch, only for the WBC to permit Dirrell to first face Benavidez who was already owed a shot at regaining the title he relinquished after testing positive for cocaine in September 2018.
Benavidez stopped Dirrell in the 9th round of their title fight last September, with Yildirim due a shot at the winner. Plans for a Benavidez-Yilidirim clash earlier this year fell through when Yildirim suffered an elbow injury. Benavidez was granted an optional title defense versus Angulo which was scheduled to take place in his Phoenix hometown this past April, only for the event to get shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The bout was rescheduled for August 15, only for Benavidez to miss weight by more than three pounds, thus the title becoming available.
Should the ordered Alvarez-Yildirim title fight make it to a purse bid, it will be made available to the highest bidder in a session which will be held via Zoom conference call.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox