Avni Yildirim doesn’t look like a championship contender on paper, but he holds the status as the WBC super middleweight mandatory challenger, meaning Canelo Alvarez will fight him on Saturday rather than lose his title belt by default.
Alvarez, who holds both the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles, comes into the contest as an overwhelming favorite in a bout nobody expects to be particularly close.
Alvarez ‘100% focused’ on Yildirim challenge
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) isn’t a complete pushover. The Turkish fighter has a solid record, and BoxRec rates him as the 10th-ranked boxer in the division. He has lost the only two fights of his career against name opponents, including his last bout, a technical decision defeat to Anthony Dirrell. That fight was in early 2019, meaning Yildirim hasn’t stepped in the ring in two years.
The WBC still considers Yildirim its mandatory challenger. He was actually in line to fight Alvarez last year, but stepped aside to let Alvarez take on Callum Smith in a unification bout with the understanding that he’d get the next shot at the winner.
|Alvarez vs. Yildirim Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Canelo Alvarez: -5000||Draw: +3300||Avni Yildirim: +1400|
|Method of Victory|
|Alvarez by KO/TKO/DQ: -1430||Yildirim by KO/TKO/DQ: +2000|
|Alvarez by Decision: +800||Yildirim by Decision: +3300|
Meanwhile, Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) continues to rack up wins in any weight class he chooses to fight in. Yildirim stands as more of a pit stop along the way, rather than a key fight for the Mexican superstar, who plans to start unifying the division. He will fight WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders in May, and has talked about taking on IBF super middleweight titleholder Caleb Plant after that.
Still, Alvarez says he’s taking this fight as seriously as any other, even if most expect him to win in a walk.
“I’ve always had these situations where people are asking and looking ahead to other fights,” Alvarez said to Yahoo Sports. “I stay focused on the short-term goal of unifying, but I’m 100% focused. That’s how I handle it, by only focusing on the upcoming fight.”
Overwhelming odds favor champion, KO finish
Alvarez comes into the fight as a massive -5000 favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. But like any fighter, Yildirim (+1400) says that he has a plan to beat Alvarez, no matter how unlikely it may seem.
“We’re going to put up a great fight, I guarantee you, but we’re going to be looking for the victory,” Yildirim trainer Joel Diaz told DAZN’s Chris Mannix. “They’re going to have a big surprise. 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 only are oddsmakers confident that Alvarez will win, they see little drama in the method of victory. DraftKings is only offering -1430 on Alvarez to win by knockout, suggesting it could be a short night of work for the champion.