Another Canelo Alvarez fight and another dominant performance from one of the sport’s most important pound-to-pound pounds. Alvarez defeated Avni Yildirim with a technical rash on Saturday to keep the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles.
We already know what’s next for Alvarez – they’ll be battling for Billy Joe Saunders on May 8th. But what can we learn from Alvarez’s three-round performance at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium? Ben Baby and Michael Rothstein react to victory, to disappointment in Yildirim’s performance, and what could be Alvarez’s long-term plan.
Rothstein: Avni Yildirim spent more time in the ring getting Alvarez there in the relegations than he did against Alvarez. This fight wasn’t a real race at all – and that’s part of Alvarez’s question now. He’s the star of the sport, yet he doesn’t have many opportunities to fight against legal opponents.
Alphabetical organizations can still challenge him, but it doesn’t seem like much of an opponent going to compete in a game. Yildirim shouldn’t have been in that ring. Is Saunders a guy who can really run Alvarez for his, or will there be another coronation on May 8th? To be real, the pre-concert with J Balvin was more interesting than any action we could see in the ring.
Midwife: I really don’t think so. Saunders can do a few things well, but his unbeaten record doesn’t have any really scary wins. Yes, he beat Willie Monroe Jr., David Lemieux and Chris Eubank Jr. in the middle, but none of these fighters are so close to being elite.
Besides, Saunders doesn’t have a lot of strength. He couldn’t knock out Martin Murray in a fight Saunders reigned in December. Of his 30 victories, Saunders has just 14 rashes. This doesn’t bode well when faced with Alvarez, who did all of Gennadiy Golovkin’s punches, as well as any of his opponents, in his epic two-fight series.
Only one guy can push Canelo and there’s a super fight possible: WBC midfielder defending champion Jermall Charlo.
Rothstein: Charlo would be interesting, and that’s a good idea, though since it would be a cross-promotion, who knows when and when the fight will take place. However, this may be one of the benefits of Alvarez being alone in terms of promotion.
But how did the Saturday night fight happen? Yildirim was a mandatory challenger and not a big challenge at all. How often we see this today – mandatory challengers are essentially busy fighting to delay the inevitable. For Alvarez, he delayed the alliance against the Saunders, a potential third fight against Golovkin, or perhaps that fight against Charlo.
Nor is it the only fight of its kind, or even the only one in the news this week. We saw a similar situation during the year with Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr. Rarely and less often do you feel obligated to be challenged, which will eventually be a struggle worthy of being obligatory. Instead, it feels like alphabet organizations are trying to find themselves relevant.
At some point, after such a struggle, does it indicate that a way of defining mandatory title protections may be necessary?
Midwife: Oh, that’s for sure. But the debate on mandatory address protection is just one of many problems with sanctioning bodies. Look at the rankings of the four big groups – WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF – and the lists (and champions) will hardly make any sense. There should be better consistency and logic in the ranking of the four sets.
For a while, that made the Ring Magazine tournament so great. The authenticity of the publication, along with the strong ranking, made their belt more legitimate and easiest to understand for casual fans. But even that has deteriorated in recent years.
Going back to Canelo, what is the perfect 2021 for him? If you beat Saunders the way you should – William Hill has been a -588 favorite in the UK since Sunday morning – what do you do next?
Rothstein: Oh man. Go to MMA? To fight a brother Paul? That seems to be the rage these days. Kid. Seriously, I was just kidding. If Alvarez really wants to fight four times this year, he might be trying to figure out if he can finish the super middleweight class reunion with the fight with IBF defending champion Caleb Plant, or he could go down to 160 against Charlo. The other option could be to try to cut back a class into lightweight to fight against single champion Artur Beterbiev.
There are options, but at this point you feel that every fight Alvarez has to be one of two things: a big money-maker, or one in which you can win another belt in one class or another. It’s easier said than done when you have all this movement, but Alvarez is the only fighter who can do it.
Of course, the other option is to close the trilogy against Golovkin that would fall into the category of funds. If he does this by the end of 2021, it could offer him a lot of opportunities to draw a 2022 figure in which he can take further steps to be considered one of the best fighters of all time.