Undefeated world champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will meet to decide the undisputed light-welterweight king in Las Vegas on May 22.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) added the WBA belt to his IBF crown when he beat Regis Prograis via majority decision in the thrilling October 2019 World Boxing Super Series final.

The Scottish southpaw made short work of Apinun Khongsong in his first defence, stopping the challenger with a brutal first-round body shot.

American Ramirez (26-0 17 KOs) was, like Taylor, a 2012 Olympian but boasts more experience in the professional ranks.

He consolidated the WBC title by stopping then-WBO ruler Maurice Hooker inside six rounds in July 2019.

A points win over one-time Taylor victim Viktor Postol last August kept those belts in Ramirez's possession and it means all four of the major titles in the division will be on the line when the fighters meet in under three months' time.

"I'm excited it's finalised and over the line," Taylor said. "I can't wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career.

"Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about."

Ramirez added he is confident he can make history for a boxer of Mexican lineage, with undisputed status similarly a target for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at super-middleweight this year.

"I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts," he said.

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hailed "a true 50-50 fight" that "the fans and both fighters demanded".

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders will clash in a mouth-watering unification bout on May 8, promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

Canelo defended his WBC and WBA middleweight titles via a brutal TKO after just three rounds against Avni Yildirim in Miami on Saturday.

After being floored in the third round, Turkish challenger Yildirim managed to make it to the bell but his corner through in the towel before the start of the fourth at Hard Rock Stadium, where the gulf in class was evident from the outset.

Following the mismatch, a blockbuster showdown against unbeaten WBO holder and Englishman Saunders (30-0) was confirmed.

"It's Canelo against Saunders — May the 8th — venue announced shortly as he continues to move toward the undisputed championship at 168," Hearn said post-fight on DAZN.

Canelo said: "He's a very difficult fighter. He wants to unify. We want to go for it. We need to go for it.

"People talk whatever, but I'm a very mature fighter. I know how to control myself."

The 30-year-old Canelo is looking to become the first undisputed champion at super-middleweight, with IBF holder Caleb Plant next on the list if he gets past Saunders.

"It hasn't been done," Canelo said of being crowned undisputed champion "I want to make history.

"At 168, no one has done it in the world. I want to make my own history."

There was an electric crowd in attendance for the Canelo-Yildirim contest, with fan capacity capped at 15,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Canelo dominated and made his move in the third round – a combination of jabs sending Yildirim to the canvas, and while the latter survived the round, he did not emerge from his corner for the fourth.

"I wanted to have a great fight here," Canelo added. "I needed to knock [him] out, and that's what I did. That's what I had to do."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez dominated Avni Yildirim, successfully defending his super-middleweight titles via a brutal TKO after just three rounds.

Canelo put his WBC and WBA belts on the line in Miami, where the Mexican star was fighting for just the second time since November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 30-year-old barely raised a sweat on Saturday – Yildirim's corner waving off the fight before the start of the fourth round after a combination of jabs floored the Turkish challenger in the third.

Canelo improved to 55-1-2 as he looks ahead to a unification bout against WBO holder Billy Joe Saunders on May 8.

Eyebrows were raised when Canelo opted to fight Yildirim (21-3), who last fought in February 2019, and the gulf in class was evident from the outset.

There were a couple of warning shots from Canelo in the opening round as he worked Yildirim's body in front of an electric crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.

Canelo, who stopped Callum Smith in December last year, continued to move well in the second round – light on his feet with a number of quick uppercuts setting the tone.

Yildirim was on the backfoot early in the third, sent to the canvas following a devastating one-two combo from Canelo.

Smelling blood, Canelo went in for the attack as he forced Yildirim against the ropes, but the latter managed to weather the storm as he survived the round.

But after his trainer was heard saying "I'll give you one more round or I'll stop you", Yildirim's fight came to an end before the bell could sound for the start of the fourth.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez makes the first appearance in what is hoped will be a far busier year on Saturday, defending his super-middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim in Miami. 

The coronavirus pandemic put paid to many best-laid plans for 2020, though Canelo was still able to squeeze in one outing before the end, putting on another emphatic demonstration of his skills against Callum Smith last December. 

Smith was deemed the best around at the 168-pound limit. He had won the World Boxing Super Series - his coronation coming after a stoppage triumph over George Groves - and was 27-0, while had a considerable height and reach advantage over the Mexican for their in-ring meeting at the Alamodome in San Antonio. 

However, the British boxer simply became the latest opponent to find out just how good Alvarez truly is. A lopsided triumph on the scorecards secured the WBA and WBC belts, as well as enhancing an already impressive CV. 

He is far from done just yet, either. A unification clash with WBO holder Billy Joe Saunders is seemingly lined up for May, while a third episode in the long-running saga with Gennadiy Golovkin could yet happen before the end of 2021 - though don't hold your breath on that one. 

First, though, he must make sure he deals with Yildirim. The Turkish fighter is the mandatory challenger with the WBC and is a hurdle that should not be overlooked, even if the two defeats in his career raise questions over whether he may be out of his depth at the home of the Miami Dolphins. 

To Canelo's credit, he has never been a fighter to look too far beyond the next man put in front of him. The target is clear: clean up in the division and become the undisputed champion. 

"It's important for me and Eddy [Reynoso, his trainer] because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions," he said in the build-up. "That's a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds. 

"Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that's our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that's what we want. Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history." 


RECENT HISTORY 

Canelo dispelled any potential concerns against his decision to face a bigger man in Smith at the super-middleweight limit, though the latter was hampered in their bout by an arm injury.

Still, Smith was suitably impressed by what he faced that night, telling Sky Sports a month after his first loss: "I don't think anyone beats him. He may only lose if he keeps going up in weight but he's put a stop to that. His defence is just too good."

Yildirim was actually beaten last time out, his attempt to win the vacant WBC belt cut short in February 2019 following a clash of heads in the seventh round that left Anthony Dirrell with a nasty cut. The action was eventually stopped in the 10th, Dirrell named the winner via split decision. 

His other loss came in October 2017, when he was stopped inside three rounds by Chris Eubank Jr in Stuttgart.


TALE OF THE TAPE 

SAUL ALVAREZ
Age: 30
Height: 5ft 8ins (173cm) 
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Reach: 70.5ins  
Professional record: 54-1-2 (36 KOs) 

AVNI YILDIRIM
Age: 29
Height: 5ft 11.5ins (182cm) 
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Reach: 70ins  
Professional record: 21-2 (12 KOs) 

Saul '@Canelo' Alvarez is in elite Mexican company  pic.twitter.com/t6mgshtBsg

— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 26, 2021 THE UNDERCARD 

Matchroom's Miami offering includes a further glimpse at Zhang Zhilei, the unbeaten heavyweight prospect last seen knocking out Devin Vargas. Jerry Forrest is his opponent this time - the American southpaw has suffered four defeats, though went the distance last time out before losing on points to world-title challenger Carlos Takam.

There are two undefeated super-middleweights on duty before the main event, Diego Pacheco and Alexis Espino taking on Rodolfo Gomez Jr and Ashton Sykes respectively. 

Look out for Keyshawn Davis too, as he prepares to make his professional debut. After the COVID-19 crisis forced a delay to Tokyo 2020, he opted not to wait for a chance at Olympic gold in Japan this year and instead is stepping into the paid ranks.


WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY... 

Canelo expects a typically aggressive approach from his opponent: "I always want to be perfect, I always want to do things right inside the ring and this isn't any exception. I always try to be patient, but it depends on what Yildirim tries to do – he's going to try and rip my head off. So it's going to depends on what's going to do."

The subject of fervent support in his homeland, Yildirim said he was ready for the toughest assignment in boxing: "I'm feeling good, I'm ready for tomorrow. It's showtime, baby. I've waited a long time for the first, it's my time."

Promoter Eddie Hearn on the headline act: "I've been around the sport for 34 years and I do feel like a fan boy around Canelo Alvarez because he's the best fighter I've ever seen up close."

Anthony Joshua has vowed he will not become an old man in the boxing ring, stating he has "five years left" in his career.

Britain's WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world champion is set for a unification fight with WBC belt holder Tyson Fury this year.

Details have yet to be disclosed of exactly where and when that two-fight series will happen, but it is poised to be a major moment in the career of both men, given the stakes involved.

Joshua is at that stage of his career where he is already a global star but where such fights matter in defining his legacy.

That is what he will look to achieve before hanging up his gloves, with the 31-year-old having shaken off the disappointment of a first professional defeat in 2019, when he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Joshua said: "This isn't the start of my career. I'm coming towards the end of my career.

"I'm not someone who lives in the moment and thinks that everything is just like for now. I'm always planning ahead so I'm coming towards the end of my career.

"Five years left and that's basically an Olympic cycle. I've got an Olympic cycle and a little bit more left, so when you see the next Olympics happen is when I'll be coming to the end of my career and the next generation will be coming through."

Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev in December to keep a grip on his belts, allowing plans for the Fury bout to remain on track and progressing to a 24-1 career win-loss record.

A two-fight deal with Fury, who dismissed Joshua as a "chump" on social media on Thursday, was said to have been verbally agreed in the weeks after the Pulev fight.

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said the first instalment could happen in the Middle East unless stadiums are again allowed to be filled to capacity in the United Kingdom, currently a distant prospect amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Anthony Joshua would love his blockbuster bout with Tyson Fury to happen at Wembley Stadium but insisted he will face his domestic rival "wherever it is, whatever time it is".

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua is finally set to face off against WBC champion Fury in 2021 after clearing the hurdle of Kubrat Pulev at England's national stadium last month.

It remains to be seen where the huge heavyweight showdown between the British foes will take place due to continued uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boxing events in Britain are suspended in January due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and Joshua insists fans would need to be allowed to attend if the fight with Fury takes place at Wembley. 

"I would welcome Tyson Fury to that. I would welcome him to that all day," Joshua told Sky Sports News.

"It's brilliant for the kids of the local areas to come down. It's like half an hour drive, a couple of hours' drive for some of them.

"It's a brilliant opportunity to have it here as well, but the government have got to do right by the people and protect us from this virus. I understand the situation that the country is in.

"I think the possibilities of it being in this country are down to the pandemic, and how that shapes up.

"I feel, for me, I'm not too fussed where it is. I just want to get the fight, because there's so much variables, and so much for me to look at. Where is it going to be? Is he going to take the fight? Have I got a mandatory?

"I've just stripped it all back now and stopped dealing with that stuff. I've just said, 'Let me just fight Tyson Fury wherever it is, whatever time it is.'"

No specific date has yet been rubber-stamped for a fight that would see an undisputed heavyweight champion crowned, but Joshua is targeting a meeting by the middle of the year.

"I think maybe June, end of June," said Joshua.

"It needs a bit of time, because the pandemic is unpredictable at the minute. We don't know what's happening, but with a little more time, it gives us more time to prepare and plan.

"Right now, I said to the team, let's get ahead of the curve, let's start putting things in place now. They are doing a great job.

"I promise you, conversations and face-to-face meetings are happening with representations of my team and Tyson Fury's team."

Tyson Fury doubts Anthony Joshua's knockout power and claims his heavyweight rival has a confidence issue, having avoided fighting him "for a long time". 

The two British boxers appear on course to finally face each other after Joshua was victorious over Kubrat Pulev in December, stopping the Bulgarian in the ninth round of their bout at Wembley Arena. 

Both sides agreed in principle to a two-fight deal for 2021, though details over a date and venue for an initial bout are still being discussed.

After seeing off Pulev, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua vowed to beat Fury when they finally go toe to toe, insisting he will take his "head off his shoulders" in the long-awaited showdown. 

However, in an interview with Fox Miami, the holder of the WBC title questioned Joshua's ability to back up his words. 

 "I don't think he's as good as people crack him up to be, or he doesn't believe he is, his own self. He's got a confidence issue," Fury said. 

"The fight has been brewing for a long time. They've been avoiding me for a long time. Now it's finally got to happen. 

"I've never seen him take anybody's head off anybody's shoulders in all of his 22 fights. It's probably a lie, another lie. We'll see if he's got the guts to try and do it." 

Fury had hoped to get in a bout before the end of 2020 - a year in which the boxing schedule was badly hampered due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic - only to shelve that plan.

The 32-year-old has not fought since February of last year, when he sensationally stopped the previously unbeaten Deontay Wilder in their rematch in Las Vegas.

Promoter Frank Warren has revealed talks are ongoing over a date and venue for Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua to meet in a fight that will be "one of the biggest in British boxing history".

The two heavyweights have both made clear they are keen for a lucrative unification showdown, with a two-fight deal previously agreed between both sides for 2021.

However, there are still details to be sorted out, including over exactly where a first bout will be staged, particularly with the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on major sporting events.

Outlining his plans for the coming year in his column for the Daily Star, Warren - whose Queensberry Promotions work with Fury - has no doubts over who will prevail, whenever the event takes place.

"The big one that everyone wants to see is Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua to decide the undisputed heavyweight champion," Warren wrote.

"Talks are continuing as we plan when and where to stage one of the biggest fights in British boxing history.

"Of course, I'm backing Fury to come out on top in that and prove what I believe that he is the best heavyweight in the world right now."

Joshua retained the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December when he stopped Kubrat Pulev in front of a limited crowd of 1,000 at Wembley Arena.

Fury, meanwhile, holds the WBC belt, having dethroned Deontay Wilder in their rematch last February. He had hoped to fight again before the end of 2020, but was forced to shelve those plans.

Warren confirmed the continued COVID-19 health crisis makes it unclear exactly when fans will be able to be present in big numbers inside venues, but made clear "the planning and plotting continues".

That includes trying to fix a date for Carl Frampton's bid to win a world title a third different weight, 'The Jackal' set to take on WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring as early as February.

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