Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez will be back in the ring on February 27, defending his WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim.  

Canelo claimed the belts in December, handing Callum Smith his first career defeat as he recorded a unanimous points triumph over the Englishman in San Antonio, Texas.  

Now the Mexican superstar will head to Florida for his next outing, the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens chosen to stage the clash with Yildirim.  

While keen to eventually unify the 168-pound division, the 30-year-old must first deal with his mandatory challenger for the WBC strap.  

"Avni Yildirim is a good boxer and I know we will put on an exciting fight," said Canelo.   

"I'm very glad that we are able to bring this event to Miami, a short distance from where my hero, Muhammad Ali, trained.   

"February 27 will be a great night for the sport."

Yildirim, who owns a 21-2 record as a pro, previously challenged for the vacant WBC belt in February 2019, losing via a technical decision after opponent Anthony Dirrell suffered a cut that forced their bout to be stopped.  

However, the 29-year-old - whose other loss came against Chris Eubank Jr in 2017 - is ready to go to war as he aims to cause a huge upset.  

"I am honoured as a mandatory to fight again for the big green belt - thank you to everyone who is involved," Yildirim said in a press release to announce the date. 

"I always give my all – and everybody should be ready to see a war. I am coming to make my country proud – I am representing the whole of Turkey."

Sergey Kovalev's bout against Bektemir Melikuziev has been cancelled after the former three-time light-heavyweight world champion failed a drugs test.

Kovalev returned a positive for synthetic testosterone via a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

The scheduled fight card at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indo, California has been pulled by Golden Boy Promotions as a result.

A statement released by Golden Boy read: "The Kovalev vs Melikuziev boxing event scheduled for January 30 has been cancelled following a positive test for a banned substance (synthetic testosterone) on behalf of Sergey Kovalev through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

"Upon learning of Kovalev's adverse finding, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) determined that they must cancel the event."

Kovalev has not fought since losing his WBO light-heavyweight title in an 11th-round knockout defeat to Canelo Alvarez in November 2019, a setback that dropped the 37-year-old's professional record to 34 victories (29 knockouts), four defeats and a solitary draw.

Counting from his first career loss, when Andre Ward edged a close points verdict against Kovalev in 2016, the Russian has won four and lost four of his past eight fights, with the three subsequent losses all coming by stoppage.

He was scheduled to box former world title challenger Sullivan Barrera on April 25 last year but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that, as it did the original plans for the meeting against Uzbekistan's 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Melikuziev (6-0, 5 KOs) to take place in Moscow.

Will they or won't they? Talk of a trilogy fight between Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin resurfaced (though, to be clear, it never really went away) after both recorded impressive victories. 

The day after long-time rival Golovkin had dominated against Kamil Szeremeta to defend his IBF middleweight title for a record 21st time, Canelo demonstrated his undoubted skills to defeat the much-taller Callum Smith on points up at super-middleweight. 

Unsurprisingly, they were asked about facing each other in the aftermath. There was a split-decision draw between them in September 2017, followed a year later by a contentious Canelo win on points. 

A third episode seemed an absolute certainty at one stage, but does it still make sense now?

As we come towards the conclusion of an unprecedented year amid a global health pandemic, it seems the ideal time to weigh up the pros and cons for two of the biggest names in boxing. 
 

A third fight MUST happen! 

Canelo: The Mexican came out on top in the previous meeting, but that majority verdict will always leave a shred of doubt for some. As is so often the case when a bout goes the distance, the outcome is so subjective. All three judges' scores were close too – Glenn Feldman had it 114-114, while his two counterparts - Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld - made Canelo the winner 117-115.  

Since then, Canelo has moved up and down in weights, knocking out Sergey Kovalev at light-heavy before dropping back to 168 pounds to outclass the previously unbeaten Smith. Those wins have further enhanced his legacy, while there are plenty of options over who to face next. Still, the most lucrative option must be GGG, giving him a chance to emphatically prove he is the better man in the rivalry. 

GGG: That defeat in Las Vegas in September 2018 remains the only blemish on a mighty impressive career CV. Golovkin was a hugely successful amateur who made a seamless transition into the paid ranks, building a reputation for both his power punching and ring acumen.  

The Kazakh is now 38 and while there are other names to keep him busy in the division - "I'm open for anybody," he said after his destruction of Szeremeta - Canelo must be the top priority for 2021. That may require ceding ground in negotiations, but so be it. GGG should do everything possible to get that deal signed – and then do his utmost to make sure the judges are not required to decide the outcome again. 
 

It's history – time to move on! 

Canelo: Been there, done that. Alvarez was the official winner in the Golovkin rematch, no matter what your opinion is on the verdict, so why does he need to go over old (no slight on GGG's age there) ground? 

A stoppage success would undoubtedly prove any doubters wrong, admittedly. After beating Smith, Alvarez dealt with the obligatory Golovkin question by saying: "I don't run from nobody". However, his willingness to switch weights from bout to bout gives him a plethora of options as he moves forward. Could we see him go up again to campaign at light-heavy? All avenues are open.

GGG: A third meeting is a gamble that will be deemed worth taking. Still, considering his age, Golovkin cannot be left waiting around in the hope it eventually happens at some stage – particularly as Canelo talked up the potential of unifying at super-middleweight, now he has the WBA and WBC belts. 

Moving up to 168 to make it happen does not suit Golovkin, so perhaps it is best to focus on cleaning up at middleweight. Fellow world champions Jermall Charlo and Demetrius Andrade are strong options for a fighter who needs to capitalise on his position in the twilight stages of his career. 

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez recognised the damage to Callum Smith's left arm as early as the fourth round after dominating the Briton, who Eddie Hearn says may have a detached bicep or triceps.

Alvarez (54-1-2) inflicted a first career defeat on Smith (27-1) in Texas on Saturday to clinch the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles by unanimous decision. 

Following the fight, which the judges scored 119-109, 119-109, 117-111 in favour of Alvarez, Smith refused to make any excuses for the one-sided loss but pictures showed gruesome damage to his arm.

Asked about the injury to his opponent, Alvarez replied: "It was the fourth or fifth round that I obviously saw it was hurting, I have much faith in those type of punches.

"It was the 12th round I saw it was really hurt, we know he has a really good left punch that's what we worked on at the gym."

Matchroom promoter Hearn offered an update on Smith, who will undergo further examination to ascertain the extent of the injury.

"I saw it I think in the 11th round, Canelo looked at it and pointed at it, it was getting bigger and bigger," Hearn said. 

"It's not diagnosed yet, some people in the dressing room think he broke his arm, it makes sense he took a lot on it. 

"I think it looks like a detached bicep or triceps. He has a lump on the outside of his arm, the doctor said it's a torn bicep or triceps so he's going to need a scan. 

"I think it happened as early as the second or third round, but he didn't for one second say 'I couldn't do this or I couldn't do that' it just got progressively worse. 

"He's a very humble guy he just held his hands up and said Canelo was the better man."

Shortly after the bout, WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders tweeted to call out Alvarez, a fight Hearn says that, in theory, is easy to put on.

"[I could make that fight] tonight," he added.

"I mean the big problem is when you talk about the revenue for any show is that gate. Tonight we were blessed with 12,000 people, it felt like my first ever show I went to as a kid. 

"We already had a deal for Billy Joe Saunders to fight Canelo Alvarez in May, he's tweeted tonight that he wants a shot. 

"Canelo walked past me after and said that's three who's next? We tried with Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs - we've got two more in Billy Joe Saunders and Gennady Golovkin [who Alvarez has faced twice, drawing the first fight and winning the second]. 

"He loves the belts, he wants to face the champions."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez is open to another fight against Gennady Golovkin after winning the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles.

Alvarez dominated Callum Smith in Texas on Saturday, beating the Brit by unanimous decision after being in control throughout.

The Mexican's win came a day after rival Gennady Golovkin beat Kamil Szeremeta to retain the IBF and IBO middleweight titles.

Alvarez drew with Golovkin in September 2017 before winning by majority decision a year later.

Asked if he wanted to face the Kazakh again, Alvarez told DAZN: "I don't run from nobody.

"I just showed that I fought against the best."

Smith was no match for Alvarez, handed a first professional defeat after struggling to impose himself as the 30-year-old produced an impressive performance.

Both fighters were in action for the first time since November last year, and Alvarez was pleased with his showing.

"I did a great job after 13 months out. Smith is a greater fighter, as you can see I did a great job," he said.

"Thanks to everybody for coming and supporting me. I'm so happy."

Alvarez added: "I'm the best in the world. In the first round I tried to see what he brings, the skills, whatever.

"Like you saw, I showed what I am."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez dominated Callum Smith, winning the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles by unanimous decision on Saturday.

Alvarez, returning to super-middleweight, was in control throughout at the Alamodome in San Antonio, handing Smith his first professional defeat.

Such was his dominance, the judges scored the fight 119-109, 119-109 and 117-111 in Alvarez's favour.

Smith (27-1) towered over Alvarez (54-1-2), but the Mexican walked him down throughout in an impressive performance.

While the first round was cagey, Alvarez took control as the more assertive fighter.

Alvarez was walking Smith down, and a big right seemed to hurt the Brit in the fourth round before an uppercut also landed.

Smith had started to slightly free up, but Alvarez was untroubled as he continued to dictate.

Alvarez remained in control and he had Smith on the ropes after a flurry of punches in the seventh round.

Smith finally started to make some inroads in the eighth, landing a big uppercut, but Alvarez responded in the ninth and a huge right hurt the Brit.

Alvarez's body shots appeared to hurt his opponent in the 10th and he was never in any real danger, Smith managing to go the distance.

Gennady Golovkin said he is open to fighting anyone after making history in his dominant victory over Kamil Szeremeta.

Golovkin set the record for most title defences by a middleweight in boxing history – 21 – following his seventh-round TKO against mandatory challenger Szeremeta.

It was Golovkin's first fight since October last year, but the Kazakh star (41-1-1) was in control from the outset in Hollywood, Florida on Friday.

Golovkin floored the previously unbeaten Szeremeta four times en route to victory and as fans call for a third fight against Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, the IBF and IBO champion was asked about his future plans.

"I'm open for anybody," Golovkin – who lost to Alvarez in September 2018 – told DAZN, with the latter due to face Callum Smith on Saturday. "Best opponent for me. 

"We will wait for tomorrow. I hope tomorrow is a great event. The best will win. I'm open."

Golovkin said: "Trust me, guys. We [will] bring the best fight for next time."

"I feel my jab," he continued. "I feel my power. I feel my timing, my distance. I needed a little bit more time. OK, if I'm finishing [in the] second round, maybe too early. I want to bring more people to TV."

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn added: "He's got plenty more gas in the tank. The most exciting boxer in world boxing, still.

"Devastating power in both hands. We want to see him in the megafights next year."

Callum Smith will aim to become just the second fighter to beat Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez when he defends his super-middleweight titles on Saturday.

However, several British boxers have tried and failed in the past to get the better of the Mexican superstar, who will be taking part in his 57th career bout and is still only 30.

Canelo told Stats Perform News this week Smith is "absolutely different to the other fighters I have faced", and the WBA champion will hope for a different result, too.

Take a trip down memory lane as we look back at the previous times Alvarez has come up against Brits in the ring.


Matthew Hatton - March 2011 (won by unanimous decision)

Canelo, already with 36 fights to his name (35-0-1), earned his breakthrough world title shot aged just 20 and took on Ricky Hatton's brother in California for the vacant WBC light-middleweight belt. It was also Hatton's first - and last - championship chance, though, and he was outclassed.

The beaten opponent reflected on "a long night" earlier this year as he told Sky Sports: "I left the ring that night believing that I'd been in with someone special who would go on to have a brilliant career." He was not wrong.
 

Ryan Rhodes - June 2011 (won by technical knockout)

Just three months on from the Hatton fight, in his very next bout, Alvarez defended his title back in Mexico against Rhodes, another Brit. It was an impressive display from the champion as he stayed patient after Rhodes recovered from a no-count knockdown in the fourth, decisively ending the contest against a staggering opponent in the final round.

Rhodes said he was "beaten up by a superstar of boxing", although he acknowledged he "probably underestimated him, underestimated his power". It was a mistake no man can afford to make against Canelo, who declared himself "ready for anybody".
 

Amir Khan - May 2016 (won by knockout)

Alvarez backed up that big talk in the aftermath of the Rhodes win but had tasted his sole career defeat - against Floyd Mayweather in September 2013 - by the time he next faced a Brit. Khan moved up two weight divisions to challenge for the WBC middleweight strap, yet it proved several steps too far.

A brutal right hand downed Khan in round six, before Canelo called out Gennady Golovkin, setting in motion their epic rivalry. Khan told Sky Sports his opponent was "a beast" and would now back him to beat Mayweather in a rematch.
 

Liam Smith - September 2016 (won by knockout)

The Mexican did not immediately move on to GGG and instead next tackled Smith, returning to light-middleweight to take the WBO crown. It was another devastating, dominant showing against a champion Alvarez had described as having "real knockout power". Smith went to the canvas in the seventh, eighth and, finally, ninth rounds.

"There are world champions, then there are elite fighters," Smith told Sky Sports, feeling his opponent had fallen firmly into the latter camp.
 

Rocky Fielding - December 2018 (won by technical knockout)

Smith's assessment was echoed by the fifth Brit to come up short against Canelo. "I tried my best but that's what elite fighters are like," Fielding told Sky Sports, saying he "dared to be great" by taking the fight. By that point, Alvarez had twice faced Golovkin, winning a rematch after a controversial initial draw.

There was nothing contentious about the defeat of Fielding, who was knocked down four times inside three rounds before the Madison Square Garden bout was halted. "The better man won," said Fielding.

It is now up to Callum Smith to upset the odds and prove he can be the better man.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez believes fighting Callum Smith for the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles is a "risk".

Alvarez (53-1-2) returns to super-middleweight for the bout against WBA holder Smith in Texas on Saturday.

It will be the Mexican's first bout since November last year as he takes on the unbeaten Smith (27-0).

Alvarez, a four-division world champion, said he was taking a risk with the fight, but it is one he is embracing.

"I like risk, I like taking risk, taking this fight is a risk," he told DAZN on Thursday.

"I'm fighting the number one at 168 pounds so these are challenges for me and I continue to bring challenges forward and I like the risk of it. I like challenges to continue making history."

While he is the top-ranked super-middleweight in the world, Smith enters the fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio as the underdog.

But the Brit, whose last fight was also in November last year, said he was confident of an upset.

"For me obviously I like my chances in this fight, I wouldn't call for a fight that I believed I would lose. I've been asking for this fight because I believe I'll win it," he said.

"I understand I'm the underdog, you look at social media, a lot of people don't really give me a chance in this fight but I've been here before, I was the underdog in my world title fight. If anything, it gives me a little bit more motivation, a little bit of a point to prove to prove my worth.

"I believe I deserve to be in this fight. I'm the number one in the world, I worked very hard to be in the position I'm at and now I'm enjoying the luxury of being world champion and being involved in these big fights, which like I said before I dreamed of being in since I was a little boy."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez acknowledged Callum Smith poses a "different" and "hard" challenge but vowed his own skills and experience will be enough to defeat the Englishman.

Canelo and Smith do battle at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday night for the WBC world super-middleweight title.

The Mexican will drop back down to the 168-pound limit to take on WBA champion Smith, who boasts a 27-0 record.

Canelo, the four-division world champion, and Smith needed no extra incentive to win, but they were informed last week the vacant WBC strap is there for the taking.

Both Smith and Canelo have won WBC straps previously, the latter holding the super-welterweight and middleweight straps and the former the diamond belt at 168lbs.

Canelo has not fought this year, his previous appearance in the ring seeing him stop Sergey Kovalev to become WBO light-heavyweight champion in November 2019, but he insists he is in the best condition of his career.

"I feel I am in the best time of my career," he told Stats Perform News. "I feel strong. I am more mature and experienced. So, the truth is I feel better than ever.

"He [Smith] is absolutely different to the other fighters I have faced. He is a tall guy and has a big range. He likes to get into the fight, punching the body, great counter-attack, so it is going to be absolutely different and it will be hard to beat him.

"However, we are ready and I believe my experience and skills will give me the strength to win it."

Asked what it would take to overcome Smith, Canelo said: "Managing my position in the ring and knowing when to keep my distance.

"Don't waste my punches and use them when I know they will be useful. So, my experience and skills are vital to win this fight. All the fights I did already have given me experience for this kind of fight."

Around 12,000 supporters will be allowed into the vast Alamodome following an easing of coronavirus restrictions and Canelo hopes to put on a show for them.

"I believe 2020, with the pandemic, has been very tough for everyone," he added. "We had to learn to manage it and get adapted to this time, but thankfully we will be closing up 2020 after 13 months with no fights.

"I feel very happy and motivated. This is a venue for 70,000 people and there will be 12,000 there in order to keep social distance and spread them around. Hopefully they can enjoy a big event."

As the mandatory challenger, Avni Yildirim will be in line to face the winner of the bout between Canelo and Smith within 90 days of their bout.

The WBC world super-middleweight title will also be up for grabs when Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Callum Smith do battle at the Alamodome in Texas next week.

Canelo will drop back down to the 168-pound limit to take on WBA champion Smith, who boasts a 27-0 record and is ranked by The Ring magazine as the best in the division.

The four-division world champion from Mexico and Brit Smith needed no extra incentive to win on December 19, but they have now been informed the vacant WBC strap will also there for the taking.

As the mandatory challenger, Avni Yildirim will be in line to face the winner of the bout between Canelo and Smith within 90 days of their bout.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said: "The WBC is extremely proud to have such a tremendous fight for the vacant WBC super-middleweight title.

"Canelo and Callum will give the world a superb closing of a difficult year and will make fans from around the world celebrate with much entertainment and enjoyment. I would like to personally praise Avni Yildirim for his exemplary collaboration to make this a reality."

Both Smith and Canelo have won WBC straps previously, the latter holding the super-welterweight and middleweight straps and the former the diamond belt at 168lbs.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "I am delighted that the winner of this fight will be crowned the WBC World champion at 168lbs.

"Canelo Alvarez is the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, and Callum Smith is the number one super-middleweight on the planet – so it is fitting for the winner to proudly wear the green and gold belt on December 19."

Billy Joe Saunders will target the big names in the super-middleweight division in 2021 after retaining his WBO title against Martin Murray.

The all-British showdown went the distance at an empty Wembley Arena, Saunders recording a landslide points triumph as he extended his unbeaten record to 30-0. 

Murray was game throughout but was unable to pin down the elusive champion, who was denied what appeared to be a knockdown in the fourth round when the referee ruled a push.

Saunders' only problem was a warning in the eighth for a low blow, producing the classier work throughout to get a unanimous decision – two judges scored it 120-109 in his favour, with the other card reading 118-110.

Still, the winner was not too impressed with his own performance even after a prolonged absence from the ring, in part due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've been out over the year now, and this was like boxing in a cemetery," he told Sky Sports. "I like to perform for the crowd, get up for it.

"I tried to set a rhythm, but he's a cunning old fox. He just knew how to tie you up well. I guess I'm still getting luckier, every fight I get. 

"Let's see if I can make a big fight, get up for it and put a shift in."

Saunders was close to signing for a fight with Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez earlier this year – promoter Eddie Hearn revealed the COVID-19 situation scuppered the deal at the last minute – but the Mexican remains a target for 2021, provided he gets past Callum Smith on December 19.

"Everyone wants Canelo – I hope Smith beats him, I hope as a fellow Brit he does it. But, if not, that's a fight I want in the new year," the 31-year-old said.

"Let's get the big names out there – obviously Canelo and Smith are fighting, and there's [Demetrius] Andrade. I need a big fight to get up for it."

Murray, meanwhile, admitted retirement was likely at 38 after a fifth failed attempt at winning a world title, albeit he did add: "Never say never".

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez will return to the ring against British challenger Callum Smith on December 19, it has been revealed.

Mexican superstar Alvarez has not fought since he became a four-weight world champion last November, stopping Sergey Kovalev in round 11 of their WBO light-heavyweight title clash.

Since then he has split from Golden Boy Promotions and proposed fights have not come to fruition, including a clash with Billy Joe Saunders that had looked set to happen in September.

There had been reports he planned a return against IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Plant, but it will be fellow 30-year-old Smith (27-0) who opposes Alvarez (53-1-2) for the WBA super-middleweight belt.

Both currently hold WBA belts in the division, with Smith the 'super' champion and Alvarez the 'regular' champion.

Alvarez wrote on Twitter: "I'll be returning to the ring on December 19th to face Callum Smith."

Alvarez's previous promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, in February claimed Smith had turned down the chance to fight the man regarded by many as the best active pound-for-pound boxer.

In September 2016, Alvarez beat Smith's older brother, Liam Smith, by ninth-round knockout in a WBO light-middleweight title fight in Arlington, Texas.

Reports have indicated Arlington is again in the frame to stage next month's fight, with Smith's promoter, Matchroom's Eddie Hearn, confirming it would go ahead in the United States.

Smith said: "I've been wanting a big fight since becoming world champion, so I'm so pleased that during these challenging times we can deliver to the fans a fight between the very best in the division.

"I truly believe I beat him and will prove that 168lbs is my division."

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