Nobody out there was giving Avni Yildirim a chance to upset Canelo Alvarez at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Saturday night, but fight fans did hope that the super middleweight clash would be at least a tiny bit competitive, at least in a couple spots.
Didn’t turn out that way; the Mexican multi-weight threat proved to be in total control from the anthems on, as he sent the Turkish boxer to the mat in the third, and pummeled him so badly in that session, Avni was kept on his stool after the round.
Alvarez rose to 55-1-2 in a bout which screened on DAZN, and after it was announced by promoter Eddie Hearn that the red-head craftsman will be in much tougher May 8. On that night he is matched against the WBO super middle champ, persistent jackass Billy Joe Saunders, who is a pea-brained buffoon with his crude and callous comments, quite often, but does possess considerable pugilism skills.
After this outing, which was quintessential “easy work” for the sport’s pound for pound top dog, Canelo was asked about being thought of as the best Mexican fighter of all time, by Chris Mannix. I just want to be known for my successes, he said, not be compared with other ring gods, like Julio Cesar Chavez.
It wasn’t, arguably, the right context for the subject to be brought up, because Yildirim didn’t deserve to be in this slot, as “mandatory” challenger to the ‘BC titlist. He’d lost his last fight, for chrissakes, against Anthony Dirrell, and hadn’t been in the ring, since then, Feb. 23, 2019.
A nickname change for the loser, who slid to 21-3, didn’t prove to be a fore-runner to a stunning triumph. Whether known as “Mr Robot,” or “The Turkish Wolf,” his present tag, Yildirim was not graced with the skill set to reach the high bar his trainer Joel Diaz had put up for him.
“They’re going to have a big surprise,” Diaz said during fight week. “Once Avni gets in the ring, Avni is going to be well known after the fight. Well-known among the fans around the world. He doesn’t care what anyone says in regards to him being an underdog. He’s going to shock people and the fans.”
Not at all; after the third, Diaz told Yildirim that if he didn’t show him something in round four, he’d stop the fight. “You gotta show me something, I’m here to take care of you,” he said to his woebegone charge. We didn’t hear how Yildirim answered, but whether with words or body language, apparently he sent the message that he was all done. Diaz told the ref to pull the plug.
“I felt strong, I felt fast, I felt comfortable,” Canelo said to Mannix after the triumph against Yildirim, who froze up just about right away, probably after tasting the well placed left hooks to the body which were there for the easy taking.
The knockdown looked too simple, it was a blinder jab followed by a straight right through the guard of the overmatched challenger. After Diaz told the ref his guy was done, analyst Serio Mora noted that there are of course levels of skill which make themselves apparent in such fights, and also in courage. “And right now we just didn’t see Yildirim show any of both,” he said. Real talk, people. Yildirim should be cheered up by his purse, probably.
Canelo knew it would be hard to win across the board with this one. He was asked during fight week about the perception that this would be a mismatch.
“I don’t have to give any explanation for fighting Yildirim,” Canelo said. “I really don’t have to give any explanation because they’re never gonna be happy with anything. I just fought No. 1 at 168 pounds, Callum Smith, and they’re not happy with that, either. So, I have nothing to say and nothing to explain. I don’t care.”
Point taken, but fully accepted? I don’t know. It was good to see him back in the ring so quickly, yes, but I guess it comes down to how you feel about watching executions? I think most fans would tell you they’d rather see more high quality fights, and there is limited value in seeing a guy who got maneuvered into a payday get slaughtered.