Unified super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez returns to the ring for the first time in 2021, as he defends his WBA and WBC titles against Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
A win by Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) would set him up for a unification clash with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders in May. Canelo is coming off a dominant unanimous decision win over Callum Smith in December.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), the WBC mandatory title challenger, is coming off a technical decision loss to Anthony Dirrell in February 2019.
Who wins? Canelo or Yildirim? Our DAZN News boxing experts discuss why Alvarez should win in a rout.
Steven Muehlhausen: You never want to say anything is for sure. On paper, this looks to be Alvarez winning in a rout as he's a -5000 favorite according to Bet MGM. Alvarez is the harder puncher, the more technical boxer, quicker, and has the big fight experience. The one thing Yildirim has going for him is that no one expects him to do much, so the native of Turkey comes in with everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. When a fighter has that mentality, that's when they are the most dangerous.
Yildirim will come out firing at Alvarez, but it's going to be to his detriment. Alvarez is going to make him pay by firing off the jab early and often. Doing so will allow Alvarez to gauge Yildirim and pick his way to the inside to explode. Once Alvarez gets in, he's not going to relent and pound Yildirim's body with his patented left hook. It will get too much to the point where Yildirim leaves himself open, and Alvarez will put him out with an overhand right to end the fight.
Prediction: Canelo Alvarez via third-round knockout.
Mark Lelinwalla: Canelo will finish Yildirim — the question is what round? I see Canelo asserting himself in the opening frame and perhaps wanting to get a few rounds in before making the ref end the action in the fourth — if not earlier. One-way traffic, as Canelo will handle this mandatory with ease.
Prediction: Canelo via fourth-round TKO.
Liam Happe: If you're wondering why Chris Eubank Jr. has been mentioned so much lately to the stage where he has almost trended on Twitter, it's because the boxing community has collectively been recalling the time the reasonably talented son of a legend flattened Avni Yildirim in three rounds. It's hard to see the Turkish fighter's challenge of one of the game's current elite going much differently. Canelo is more cerebral than Eubank and won't rush in search for a check-out. However, he will realize the value of a quick shift with plans to fight again as early as Cinco de Mayo week. As soon as Yildirim struggles to stick to Joel Diaz's Alvarez-orientated gameplan and tries to press, he's likely to land in hot water.
Prediction: Canelo wins via stoppage.