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Canelo v Yildirim: Legacy is on the agenda as Alvarez races towards becoming an all-time great

Canelo v Yildirim: Legacy is on the agenda as Alvarez races towards becoming an all-time great

Seventy day turnarounds and a hunger for greatness; Canelo is a throwback to when champions fought for glory.

BOXING's pound-for-pound world number one, Canelo Alvarez, completes a rapid 70-day turnaround to defend his WBC super-middleweight title in Miami on Saturday night.

The Mexican pay-per-view superstar takes on Turkish challenger Avni Yildrim in a stepping stone title defence to clear the way for a Spring showdown with Britain’s WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders.

Alvarez has blood in his nostrils and legacy in mind, still fresh from his one-sided masterclass against Callum Smith, the former world number one at 12-stone.

By summer, the 30-year-old aims to make more history by becoming the first Mexican ever to unify the world title belts at super-middleweight, just like he did down at middleweight.

Make no mistake, boxing is officially basking in the Alvarez Era. No individual puts more eyeballs in front of the sweet science than the Guadalajara native, who turned pro aged 15 and has amassed a remarkable 54-1-2 record.

Who could have guessed the same stocky ginger Mexican that outpointed Ricky Hatton’s younger brother Matthew to claim the vacant WBC light-middleweight title back in March 2011 would go on to have 17 world title fights (and counting) across four weight divisions.

A slick counterpuncher by trade, hard-hitting Canelo can also dominate the action on the front foot – as he demonstrated in both his high-profile rematch with Gennady Golovkin in 2018 and most recently against Smith in December.

As only the fourth Mexican in history to win a world title in four weight classes, Alvarez is a modern-day great whose achievements will rightly be ranked amongst the greatest Mexican fighters ever to step into the ring.

The Saunders unification fight, tentatively scheduled for May, will certainly add to his career credentials. But first comes Yildrim by order of the WBC, who continue to make exasperating belt and rankings decisions to the detriment of the sport.

‘Mr Robot’ finds himself in a mandatory contender spot despite not lacing up his gloves in the last two years following a failed attempt at the WBC crown. Even prior to that Anthony Dirrell defeat he’d gained his title chance after back-to-back wins over two men with a combined 45-45-4 record.

The 29-year-old’s only other loss in a 21-2 career was in October 2017 when he suffered a third-round knockout to Chris Eubank Jr in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series tournament that would eventually be won by Smith.

Yildrim is also a former Alvarez employee, brought in by the champ’s team for sparring in 2018 to mimic the style of Golovkin. But, of course, this weekend’s Matchroom card isn’t about the challenger; it’s about Alvarez staying busy in a time when most champions are fighting just once a year.

The 70-day turnarounds Canelo was famous for when he first became champion a decade ago are back. He’s running the show now and if that means more than three fights per year as he aims to round out his career with a bang, then boxing will be all the better for it.

TIP: Alvarez by KO in rounds 4-6 - 9/5




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Nick Peet
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