Yildirim: ‘The Canelo fight is old news’

Avni Yildirim has brushed off his defeat at the hands of pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez and is ready to launch his quest at a new weight when he takes on Jack Cullen on the first week of Matchroom Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex on Saturday July 31, live worldwide on DAZN.

Yildirim (21-3 12 KOs) took on Canelo in Miami in February, challenging the Mexican star for the WBC and WBA World Super-Middleweight Titles at the home of the Miami Dolphins, but the Turk was unable to dethrone the champion and was pulled out after the third round by then-trainer Joel Diaz.

The 29-year-old previously challenged Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC strap in February 2019, losing via a controversial split decision in Minneapolis, and now Yildirim has chosen to drop down to 164lbs in a catchweight clash with Cullen and to also team up with a new coach in Pedro Diaz.

“The Canelo fight is old news,” said Yildirim. “I am looking to open a new page on my career down at Middleweight. I have a new trainer in Pedro Diaz, it’s a new start and I have a new lease of life, everything feels good.”

Diaz is one of the world’s finest trainers, having worked with the vaunted Cuban teams in four Olympics and guiding the Dominican Republic in another, before switching to the pro game and working in the corners of modern greats like Miguel Cotto and Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Yildirim will be looking to absorb his years of experience in this new chapter.

Yildirim’s first assignment under Diaz sees him take on ‘Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver’ over ten rounds at the second instalment of Matchroom’s Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex. Cullen fights for the second time in the unique setting having drawn with Zak Chelli last summer and added a fine win over John Docherty to his CV in November.

A clash with Yildirim came out of leftfield for both men and has been well received by pundits, but Yildirim is not focusing on his British foe, but looking to make a statement in the Middleweight division and warn the belt-holders that he is gunning for their hardware.

“I’m in a new gym, new atmosphere,” said Yildirim. “Pedro is one of the best trainers in the world and a great guy, and I think that he can make me a World Champion at 160lbs, and I’m telling the champions – I am coming for you.

“I know what I want to be, a great champion at Middleweight, and Pedro believes in me and says that I can do it. My motivation is so high, and my body and my mind are both in a great place.”

Yildirim vs. Cullen is part of a huge night of action as Fight Camp returns with a bang, rising Welterweight star Conor Benn (18-0, 12 KOs) puts his WBA Continental Title on the line against Adrian Grandos (21-8-3, 15 KOs), WBA Featherweight World Champion Xu Can (18-2, 3 KOs) defends his Title against Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (24-2, 14 KOs), Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) and Chris Billam-Smith (12-1, 10 KOs) collide in a massive showdown for the European, British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight Titles, Liverpool Super-Welterweight Anthony Fowler (14-1, 11 KOs) promises to build on his huge third-round knockout win over Jorge Fortea when he takes on Rico Mueller (28-3-1, 19 KOs), Manchester Lightweight Campbell Hatton (2-0) continues his young journey in the pro ranks against Jakub Laskowski (4-4-1, 2 KOs) and former amateur star Sandy Ryan makes her highly-anticipated professional debut at Super-Lightweight against Kirstie Bavington (3-1-2, 2 KOs).

Saunders on Canelo: ‘He’s beaten good names, but nobody is unbeatable’

Unified 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez(55-1-2, 37 KOs) did what many expected him to do on Saturday night when he easily defeated WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim by TKO in three rounds at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Now, he’s looking to get more belts at 168 when he battles WBO 168-pound champion Billy Joe Saunders, in a unification bout on May 8(DAZN).

The fight was officially announced after Canelo’s victory over Yildirim.

Saunders (30-0 14 KOs) will be putting his WBO strap on the line for the third time. The last time we saw Saunders, he defeated Martin Murray by unanimous decision back in December. 

According to Saunders, he has everything he needs to beat Canelo.

“Canelo, I’m ready to rock and roll,” said Saunders. “You have to dare to be great, and you aren’t going to be a great if you don’t beat the greats.

“I believe I am the only one with the footwork, know-how, skillset, mindset, and brain to unlock that door in Canelo.

“He’s the main man in the sport and the face of boxing. You have to give him respect; he hasn’t ducked anyone, he’s beaten good names, but nobody is unbeatable, and I believe I have got the tools to beat him if I use them properly and if the gamelan comes off that I believe works.”

Canelo’s sole focus is to get all the belts at 168, and defeating Saunders gets him one step closer to that goal.

“We want to unify the division; he’s a world champion, we want to go for it, and we need to go for it,” said Canelo. “He’s a very difficult fighter and has a championship, the WBO.

“People talk, but I’m a very mature fighter, and I know how to control myself. All I need to do is go into the ring, win and make history.

“It’s because it hasn’t been done; no one has done it in Latin America. In the world, only a few fighters have done it, the best. I want to make history and be one of the best in the world.”

Canelo: ‘I don’t just represent Mexico, I represent all Latinos’

Canelo Alvarez hopes to turn Miami into another home for his blockbuster fight nights as he prepares to defend his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight titles against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on Saturday night (February 27) at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, live worldwide on DAZN and on TV Azteca in Mexico.

The pound for pound king (54-1-2 36 KOs) is swiftly back in action after dominating Callum Smith in San Antonio, Texas in December to land the titles he defends against Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) this weekend.
 
The Mexican star must see off the challenge of the Turk if he’s to build towards becoming the first undisputed champion at 168 pounds, but the fight also sees the 30 year old four weight World ruler fight in Florida for the first time as a World champion.
 
Canelo’s only fight in the Sunshine State was in December 2008 where he put Raul Pinzon to the sword inside a round in his 24th pro fight, and he hopes that Saturday night’s blockbuster event can be the first of many in Miami.
 
“I feel very motivated to be in Miami and have this fight,” said Canelo. “And to put on a great show for the people there because I don’t just represent Mexico, I represent all Latinos.
 
“I like everything about Miami and I am very happy to be here, it is an honor to fight at Hard Rock Stadium. I feel very excited, very happy, it’s even more motivation for me. To open another door in order to have another home for my fights. I really feel very happy.
 
“They only let us put 15,000 people in because of the pandemic, but with that we are fine. Last time in San Antonio it was around 12,000 and the stadium sounded like it was full. Let’s hope that normalcy will arrive soon, and the stadium can be filled, but with 15,000 I feel very good, and if there were 1,000 it would be the same, the support of the people is incredible, and I feel very grateful.
 
“You do feel the vibe of the fans when they are yelling and that motivates you much more, but you have to get into your head that in the end you are the only one up in the ring. I always prepare 100 per cent.”
 
Canelo’s clash with Yildirim is part of huge night of action at the home of the Miami Dolphins. 
 
Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) provides the chief support as he defends his WBC World Flyweight title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs) while Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds. 
 
A host of young talents get the chance to shine on the card in the form of Diego Pacheco. (10-0 8 KOs), Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs), Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) and Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO).

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
 

Canelo on short-term goal: ‘To win all the titles at 168 pounds’

Canelo Alvarez says his desire to create history is the driving force that keeps him striving for greatness as he prepares to defend his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday February 27, live worldwide on DAZN (except Mexico).

Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) is straight back into action following his clinical win over Callum Smith in December to claim the WBC and Ring Magazine straps and now puts his 168lb belts on the line against WBC mandatory challenger Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) as he plots his path to becoming the first Mexican to be undisputed champion at Super-Middleweight.

Canelo believes he can set the example for other fighters to follow and look to claim all the belts and secure a legacy, something that motivates him and his trainer Eddy Reynoso to strive to break records and set new goals.

“It’s important for me and Eddy because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions,” said Canelo. “And that’s a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds.

“Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that’s our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that’s what we want. Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history.

“I think it’s important, not just for me, but for all fighters. To make history in boxing is very important, I think. It’s very important to me to leave behind a legacy in this sport. And that’s why we’re doing this. To keep making history and so when people talk about boxing, they always remember me.”

Canelo’s clash with Yildirim is part of huge night of action at the home of the Miami Dolphins.

Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) provides the chief support as he defends his WBC World Flyweight title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs) while Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds.

A host of young talents get the chance to shine on the card in the form of Diego Pacheco. (10-0 8 KOs), Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs), Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) and Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO).

Hearn: ‘It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment’

Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) makes a rapid return to the ring at the home of the Miami Dolphins, taking on his WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs), with the WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine titles on the line.

The Mexican pound-for-pound king defeated Callum Smith in clinical fashion in San Antonio, Texas in December and the 30 year old looks to stamp his authority on the division, with Hearn looking at pitting Canelo against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders next should Canelo win.

“It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment, I think it’s a real statement from him,” said Hearn. “He’s mixing it up by fighting in Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium, to be promoting Canelo at the home of the Miami Dolphins is pretty special. We’re going to have around 15,000 in there, Avni is the mandatory challenger and it’s a great opportunity for him and a big opportunity for Canelo to stay active hopefully before a big Billy Joe Saunders fight and on a huge night on February 27.”

Chief support on the night comes in the form of Canelo’s stablemate Julio Cesar Martinez defending his WBA World Flyweight title against his mandatory challenger, McWilliams Arroyo. Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) has been frustrated by injury ruling him out of two previously scheduled defenses, so Hearn expects the pintsized tyro to be at his thrilling best in a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican war with Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs).

“Julio Cesar Martinez is special,” said Hearn. “I think he can go through everyone in the division and even move up to Super-Flyweight and start looking at Estrada and Chocolatito, he’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see him in February 27.

“He will fight anyone, and Eddy Reynoso is confident in his ability. He was supposed to fight on the Canelo card in December so he should be hungry. Arroyo was a fantastic amateur with good pedigree and he’s a smart fighter, but I think that the footwork, strength and unpredictability of Julio will see him victorious.”

Elsewhere on the bill….

Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds: “I’m really excited about Zhilei Zhang, he punches very hard and he’s something different for the division. Forrest is a good Heavyweight and I expect a stunning KO and hopefully it’s from our man Zhang. I think he is getting to the point now where Zhilei needs to fight some of the guys in the top 15 like Derek Chisora, Joseph Parker, Filip Hrgovic and so on.”

Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) faces Raul Corona (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “Marc was waiting for so long for that debut that he was a little over-excited in the first round, but when he settled down his shots were fantastic, and I loved the aggression from him. The kid is a star and it’s a big opportunity to have his second fight on a second Canelo card.

Diego Pacheco (10-0 8 KOs) faces Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-4-1 10 KOs) over eight rounds: “Diego is still so young that you want to hold him back, but we have to progress him forward and we have done so on this card. It’s a big step up and he’s getting a great wave of support growing, Diego is a big star. Sparring is so important for young fighters and Diego is getting great sparring with the likes of Canelo and David Benavidez; Diego has been out for a while, but I expect a big performance.

Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs) faces Ashton Sykes (5-3 1 KO) over six rounds: “Alexis has had a nightmare with injury and then COVID, it was a frustrating 2020 but he’s out of that now and onto a busy 2021. He’s a good puncher, exciting and someone that in one or two more fights he’ll be ready to step up.”

Keyshawn Davis makes his pro debut against Lester Brown (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “When we announced Keyshawn was on the bill, I got 20 or so messages from amateurs and pros saying ‘this kid is the real deal’. It’s the biggest platform in boxing and Keyshawn is ready to go.

Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO) faces Harry Gigliotti (6-1 3 KOs) over four rounds: “It’s always great to have local talent on bills. Aaron has sold lots of tickets, I met him at our GGG show in December. Good amateur, tall, good looking, and with these guys you don’t know how they are going to progress, so you give them the platform and wait and see.”

The next action for Matchroom in the USA comes two weeks later and it doesn’t get much bigger than the mouth-watering rematch between Estrada (41-3 28 KOs) and Chocolatito (50-2 41 KOs).

The pair first clashed in November 2012 in Los Angeles, with Chocolatito successfully defending his WBA Light-Flyweight title via unanimous decision, and now over eight years later, they will meet again for the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine World Super-Flyweight titles in a fight that has Hearn salivating.

“This is a great card, probably one of the best we’ve ever done,” said Hearn. “Everyone in boxing knows Estrada-Chocolatito is one of the fights of the year before the bell has rung – two legends, pound-for-pound greats, in a unification fight – this is everything that’s great about boxing. Juan Francisco wants to avenge his defeat and unify the division, but Chocolatito, who sprung back to life against Kal Yafai, has other ideas. The winner will fight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, providing the Thai star is victorious on home turf the same weekend.”

Chief support action is provided by a rematch for the undisputed Welterweight World championship – repeat or revenge as Jessica McCaskill defends the belts against Cecilia Brækhus. McCaskill (9-2 3 KOs) ripped the titles from Brækhus (36-1 9 KOs) on the streets of downtown Tulsa in August, with the Chicagoan becoming a two-weight World champion in just her 11th pro fight and handing the Norwegian star her first career defeat.

“Jessica doesn’t get the credit she deserves,” said Hearn. “She took on Katie Taylor when she was vastly inexperienced and gave her one of her toughest fights. Came back to win the World title in Chicago and she’s never turned down a challenge, she unified the division and beat Cecilia to become undisputed at 147lbs. Jessica is a star, but Cecilia looks like she’s got the bit between her teeth and this is her last chance.”

There’s a Matchroom debut on the card for Hiroto Kyoguchi as he defends his WBA and Ring Magazine World Light-Flyweight titles against Axel Vega. Kyoguchi (14-0 9 KOs) defends the titles for the third time against Vega (14-3-1 8 KOs), and Hearn is looking forward to introducing the 27 year old to a global audience.

“Kyoguchi is a top pound-for-pound boxer, the number one in the Light Flyweight division and such a good fighter,” said Hearn. “Vera is an all-action guy and Kyoguchi is a class act so this will be a great fight – we would love to do something in Japan with him, but the plan is to unify the division and probably move up to Flyweight and you are going to enjoy watching him fight on an amazing card.”

Trainer Diaz on Yildirim: ‘He’s fighting for his country, and he’s going to shock the world’

Joel Diaz says his work with new charge Avni Yildirim will shock the world when he takes on WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in Florida on Saturday February 27, live worldwide on DAZN (except Mexico).

Star trainer Diaz teamed up with Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) late in October 2019 but due to the COVID pandemic, the showdown with Canelo will be their first fight together after 18 months of work, with Yildirim’s last action coming in February 2019 when he faced Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC strap in Minnesota.
 
Inactivity might be a hindrance to many ahead of taking on the pound-for-pound number one, but Diaz is happy that they have been able to work on the Turkish man’s arsenal and rid him of his ‘Mr Robot’ style behind closed doors, and Diaz believes that fight fans and pundits will meet a new Avni Yildirim on February 27 – one that’s ready to shock the world against Canelo (54-1-2 36 KOs).
 
“Avni came to Indio and in the first week of training he fell in love with my work,” said Diaz. “He was the happiest guy I’ve ever met because this guy is not only a gym rat and a hard worker, but he’s a smart fighter, he loves learning. A lot of the things he never learned in his career, he’s learned them now, and he loves the work I put in, and it doesn’t matter how hard the work is, he never complains.
 
“That’s the reason I like Avni, any trainer would like to have him, he just does what you tell him to do. He’s a true soldier – you tell him to do something, he just does it.
 
“Avni may be an underdog but he doesn’t care what anybody says, he’s fighting for his country, and he’s going to shock the world.
 
“He’s a completely different fighter from when he fought Dirrell and Chris Eubank Jr. I said to him, you are a physically stronger guy than Dirrell but you had no defense. That’s why they called him ‘Mr Robot’, but there’s no robot in him now, I can tell you. I made a complete transformation because I dedicated time to him. The COVID situation helped him in a way because there was nothing to do, there were no fights, so just to keep him busy we would go to the gym and work on technique and making him a better fighter.”
 
Yildirim’s clash with Canelo is part of a huge night of action in Miami, as Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) defends his WBC World Flyweight title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs).

Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) makes a quick return to action over ten rounds against Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs), and a host of young talents get the chance to shine on the card in the form of Diego Pacheco. (10-0 8 KOs), Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs), Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) and Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO.