Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez returns to the ring this weekend when he defends his WBA, WBC and Ring super middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim in Miami on Saturday night.
Many are expecting an easy win for the Mexican superstar over the relatively unheralded Turkish fighter, who might be best known to UK fight fans for his 2017 KO defeat to Chris Eubank Jr, but the 30-year-old thinks his opponent will be trying to “knock his head off” when they meet at the Hard Rock Stadium.
The pair share a personal history, having sparred with one another before, but Canelo believes that this will be nothing like the sessions they’ve shared together. Speaking to Boxing Social, Canelo said, “It’s totally different sparring to an actual fight. He’s going to come out there and try and knock my head off.”
“He’s a very strong fighter, he’s very resistant but we’re going to prepare ourselves for that and much more.”
The pound-for-pound star is back in action after just a little over two months away, having beaten Callum Smith in Texas in December and he says he’s much calmer during this fight’s Covid bubble than he was in the last one stating, “It’s less complicated for me. It’s the same thing but I like this bubble a lot better, of all the bubbles, because it’s easier for me, smoother, and a lot less stressful.”
While few are giving Yildirim any chance of beating Canelo, the Turk says he wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t confident enough that he could spring one of boxing’s all-time biggest upsets on Saturday night and insists his biggest motivation is making his home nation proud. Speaking to Boxing Social, the 29-year-old said, “I believe in myself. If I don’t believe in myself, then I’m not here. I don’t care about the money, the photographs, the interviews. I care for honour because the importance for me first is for my country.
“I’m here for my homeland, you know? I am here now, for my honour.”
Should Canelo emerge victorious in Florida, a unification with WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders looks likely in May and then, should he win that one too, Canelo says his plan is to become undisputed at 168lbs before the year’s out.