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.”

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.”

Gabe Rosado: DAZN is heaven for the middleweights

Gabriel Rosado is gunning for a meeting with WBO World champion Demetrius Andrade as he prepares to face Maciej Sulecki on Friday night (March 15) at the Liacouras Center, Philadelphia live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.

Rosado (24-11-1 14 KOs) is back in action following his closely fought draw with Luis Arias in Mulvane, Kansas in November – another contentious fight for the Philly favorite who will now be chasing a third World title shot in his first fight on home turf in seven years.

Sulecki (27-1 11 KOs) is hunting a first World title shot having returned to winning ways in November with a second round stoppage of Jean Michel Hamilcaro in his native Poland. The 29 year old gave Daniel Jacobs a stern test in April before the Brooklyn man moved on to become a two-weight World ruler, and Sulecki will believe that experience will serve him against Rosado.

WBO ruler Andrade defended his title live on DAZN in January against Artur Akavov at Madison Square Garden in New York and will be ringside tomorrow night, and the streaming giants rubber-stamped their status as the home of the elite Middleweights by adding Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin to the phenomenal roster of middleweights, with Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs clashing in a unification blockbuster on DAZN on May 4 in Las Vegas.

“DAZN is the place to be as a Middleweight – it’s nuts,” said Rosado. “It’s a fun time to be at 160-pound and DAZN where its at. It’s taken a UK promoter to come to Philadelphia and make this happen, but it’s dope. I dig what Eddie Hearn is doing. He’s young, he understands the business, how things work and it’s fun fighting on Eddie’s cards.

“I’m in a great situation with this fight. Everyone had me winning the fight with Arias, that’s why Eddie Hearn gave me this shot against Maciej. He’s a World class fighter, he comes to fight with a high volume of punches, I thought he gave Jacobs a great fight, I scored it 7-5 and it was close. His style of fighting and competitive nature is going to bring the best out of me, there’s going to come a time in the fight where it’s going to be a battle of wills – and he’s not going to out-will me in my backyard, in front of my family – that’s not happening.

“This card is lit and this is a really good fight. It’s my first time in seven years that I am fighting in Philly so I am really excited about that, when I fight in my home town, I turn up. Going into the Arias fight I had been off for a year and only had a five week camp. I did what I did from just being a vet. But now I am coming in off the fight in November, we have a flow going, the camp started right away and everything has been smooth. I am capable of putting my foot on the gas and sitting on my shots in this fight.”

Rosado’s clash with Sulecki is part of a huge night of action in Philadelphia on St Patrick’s weekend topped by a World title double-header as Philly’s Tevin Farmer (28-4-1 6 KOs) comes home to defend his IBF Super-Featherweight title against Ireland’s Jono Carroll (16-0-1 3 KOs), and Irish sensation Katie Taylor (12-0 5 KOs) looks to unify the Lightweight division once again, putting her IBF and WBA straps on the line against Brazil’s WBO champion Rose Volante (14-0 8 KOs).

Philly Lightweight’s Hank Lundy (29-7-1 14 KOs) and Avery Sparrow (9-1 3 KOs) battle for local pride, Olympic gold medal pair Luke Campbell MBE (19-2 15 KOs) and Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0 3 KOs) and silver medalist John Joe Nevin (11-0 4 KOs) taste their first action of 2019, unbeaten Super-Middleweight D’Mitrius Ballard (19-0 12 KOs) faces Victor Fonseca (17-9-1 14 KOs) while exciting New Jersey amateur star Raymond Ford makes his pro debut.

Erislandy Lara wants Canelo or GGG

Former WBA super welterweight world champion Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs), felt inspired by the state of boxing after watching last Saturday night’s main event between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fought an amazing fight, it was a true classic.” said Lara. “I want to congratulate both of them for putting together such a tremendous effort to bring the spotlight back on boxing. It would be a great honor to fight either fighter, and I would love to challenge myself against them.”

Erislandy Lara has been training in Houston, Texas for his next fight with trainer Ronnie Shields, as he is working hard in the gym, getting ready for his next fight date.

“I am ready to make a statement and to challenge either fighter at middleweight, whether it is Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez in a rematch…I am ready!”

In 2014, Lara lost to Alvarez by split decision, which some believe Lara won.

The last time we saw the 35-year-old Lara was in April when he lost to Jarrett Hurd by split decision.

Photo by Stephanie Trapp – Showtime

Gennady Golovkin to throw out first pitch for Dodgers

Boxing’s No. 1 superhero and undefeated WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO Middleweight World Champion, GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN, will be kicking off Fight Week by serving up the hard cheese when he takes the mound at Dodger Stadium.  Currently boxing’s longest-reigning world champion, Golovkin will be throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the Dodgers vs. Rockies game, This Sunday!  September 10, at 1:10 p.m. PT.  Remaining tickets to the game can be purchased via www.dodgers.com.  Golovkin, who will complete his most rigorous training camp ever on Saturday, at The Summit Gym, the high-altitude training complex in Big Bear, Calif., will be pitching on just one day’s rest, but hey, that’s what superheroes do!

“Gennady will be throwing the heater on Sunday, just like he will on September 16 against Canelo,” said trainer Abel Sanchez.

Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) who has been middleweight champion since 2010, is in deep training for his 19th consecutive title defense – one short of the all-time record – against lineal and RingMagazine Middleweight World Champion and Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs).  Canelo vs. Golovkin is the long-awaited showdown to determine supremacy of the storied middleweight division and arguably the pound-for-pound rankings.

Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

Canelo-Chavez Jr.: “The Mexican Civil War”

Cinco De Mayo weekend is a great time to figure out who is the “King of Mexico.” At the T-MobIe Arena, in Las Vegas, NV, Canelo Alvarez battles Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the catch-weight of 164.5 pounds in a 12-round non-title fight on Saturday night(HBO PPV).

On the surface, Canelo, 26, (48-1-1, 34 KOs) has been the more active fighter, has fought more championship caliber fighters, and has a better overall skill set. However, Chavez Jr., 31, (50-2-1, 32 KOs) is no bum. He has proven that he has a puncher’s chance, but reportedly, he had to lose a lot of weight to get down to 164 pounds.  The biggest question was would Chavez Jr. make weight? He did that. The next question is how motivated Chavez Jr. will be coming into this fight? In the past, he has not been motivated enough to stop smoking weed. In his biggest fight, against Sergio Martinez in 2012, Chavez Jr. tested positive for marijuana. This could be his last chance to live off his dad’s name, the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. This could be his night of resurrection, or could be the day he goes away.

Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo need this fight. What could be next for Alvarez is a battle with GGG. Other than Mayweather-McGregor (don’t laugh), Canelo-GGG is the biggest fight that could be made in boxing! That does not happen without beating Chavez Jr.  Canelo has GBP on his back. He is their most marketable fighter, and at this point, is the cash cow of boxing.

So who wins?

Canelo is the better fighter. Skills pay bills. With that being said, I see Canelo stopping Chavez Jr. in 8, but Chavez  Jr. will be a live dog early. Chavez Jr. biggest victory was making weight. He won that battle, but he will lose the war.