World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman believes the critics are being too harsh when discussing the mandatory fight between champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and challenger Avni Yildirim.

Most observers regard the contest as a mismatch and expect Yildirim to get knocked out in the early rounds.

Sulaiman does not agree with that position.

"I think Yildirim is much better than people think," Sulaiman said.

Last month in Texas, Canelo dominated unbeaten Callum Smith over twelve rounds to capture the WBC, WBA super middleweight world titles.

Before Canelo-Smith was finalized, an agreement with reached between both parties, the sanctioning body and Yildirim.

Yildirim was the mandatory challenger to the vacant WBC title. After discussing the matter with the WBC, he allowed Canelo-Smith to have the vacant belt at stake - with the guarantee of facing the winner.

Canelo is planning to satisfy the mandatory obligation - with a target date of February 27th in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The WBC intends to reach out to Canelo in the coming days to discuss that contest.

“[Canelo] wants to defend against the mandatory contender Avni Yildirim at the beginning of the year. We will contact him soon," Sulaiman commented.

If the fight ends up being successful, Canelo is planning to fight in May as part of Cinco De Mayo weekend and in September as part of Mexican Independence Day.

Yildirim has been out out of the ring since February 2019, when he lost a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell in a clash for the vacant WBC title. Dirrell would then lose the belt to David Benavidez, who was stripped of the title when he failed to make weight for a voluntary defense - which in turn left the belt in a vacant state with Yildirim standing firm as the mandatory challenger.