MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – Eddie Hearn understands that a knockout defeat was inevitable for Avni Yildirim on Saturday night.
Canelo Alvarez’s promoter still would’ve preferred to see the Turkish contender continue after the third round in their scheduled 12-round, 168-pound title fight at Hard Rock Stadium. Challenging Alvarez was, after all, the opportunity of Yildirim’s lifetime and he had waited nearly two years for his mandatory shot at the WBC super middleweight title.
Joel Diaz, Yildirim’s trainer, stopped their fight following a one-sided third round during which Alvarez drilled Yildirim with a straight right hand that sent him crashing to the canvas.
“I would’ve liked to see him do another round,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “It’s disappointing, because I feel like if you’re getting paid like that [reportedly $2.5 million], and it’s this size of a fight, you’ve got to go out on your shield. And I expected him to go out on his shield. But he was about to get knocked clean out. I mean, he’s so good, Canelo.”
The 30-year-old Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) – perhaps boxing’s best fighter, pound-for-pound – was consistently listed by Internet sports books as a 50-1 favorite to defeat Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs).
Alvarez fought such a huge underdog only because it was part of an agreement he and Callum Smith made with the WBC before that governing organization sanctioned their December 19 title fight at Alamodome in San Antonio. Per terms of that deal, the Alvarez-Smith winner was supposed to make a mandated defense versus Yildirim within 90 days.
Mexico’s Alvarez fought Yildirim just 10 weeks after he defeated England’s Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder to win the WBA and WBC 168-pound crowns.
Yildirim, meanwhile, lost by knockout for the second time in his six-year pro career. England’s Chris Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) knocked out Yildirim during the third round of their October 2017 bout in Stuttgart, Germany, slightly faster than Alvarez.
Yildirim was mostly cautious against Alvarez, but Alvarez still stopped his overmatched opponent pretty quickly.
“I didn’t actually mind what Yildirim was doing,” Hearn said regarding the challenger’s strategy. “Even when he went back [to his corner] at the end of the [third] round, I thought, ‘OK, well, he’s getting beaten up, but at least he’s sort of thinking about what he’s doing, in the sense of waiting, trying to catch counter left hooks.’ But I don’t know what else you do. Every time you throw, he’s gonna trade with you and knock you out. And if you don’t throw, he’s gonna rip your body to shreds and pump those uppercuts up the middle. So, it’s like, what do you do?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.