Canelo to Defend Titles Against Avni Yildirim in February

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Unified super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Álvarez will defend his 168-pound titles against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in Miami on Feb. 27, a source familiar with negotiations told Sports Illustrated.

The fight will be held at Hard Rock Stadium and streamed on DAZN.

The Athletic first reported the agreement.

Álvarez (54-1-2) was in action in December, defeating Callum Smith to win two versions of the super middleweight title. After fighting just once in 2020, Álvarez has been adamant about being active in 2020, starting in February, which will be the first of what could be three fights in 2021.

Álvarez, a promotional free agent after severing ties with longtime promoter Golden Boy last fall, will work with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing for the second fight in a row. Hearn promoted Canelo’s win over Smith and has developed a strong working relationship with the Mexican superstar and his manager and trainer, Eddy Reynoso.

Álvarez’s deal is a multi-fight agreement with Matchroom, a source confirmed. If Álvarez beats Yildirim, it’s expected he will face Billy Joe Saunders in May. Saunders (30–0) owns a version of the 168-pound title. Álvarez has stated he hopes to unify the division in 2021.

Yildirim (21–2) has been inactive since losing a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell in Feb. 2019. A fringe contender, Yildirim’s other loss came in 2017, when he was stopped in three rounds by Chris Eubank Jr.

Álvarez will return to Miami for the first time since 2008. Álvarez had hoped to hold the fight in Mexico, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented any significant in-person attendance. Texas, where Canelo defeated Smith, was also considered before Álvarez and Matchroom settled on South Florida.