Canelo Alvarez stops Avni Yildirim to retain super-middleweight belts

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez outclassed Avni Yildirim and retained his world super-middleweight titles with a technical knockout after Yildirim failed to answer the bell for the fourth round Saturday night.

Alvarez, of Mexico, dropped the Turkish challenger with a left right combination to the head midway through the third round. Alvarez followed with additional combinations, pinning Yildirim on the ropes. Yildirim survived the round but absorbed sufficient punishment that forced his trainer Joel Diaz to stop the fight.

With the victory, Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) successfully defended his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association belts.

The fight headlined the first boxing event at 34-year-old Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

In a methodical first round, Alvarez set the pace early with lead left jabs to the head and and lefts and right to the body.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez delivers a right jab to Avni Yildirim.
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivers a right jab to Avni Yildirim.
Matchroom Boxing/AFP via Getty I

Alvarez landed uppercuts and continued to score with combinations to the body in the second. Yildirim (21-3) rarely threw punches and the few he did, Alvarez blocked or slipped his shots. Alvarez stayed within punching range and increased his output but also was effective from distance and connected with a flush counter right to the head.

Saturday’s bout was the first of what Alvarez hopes will be a busy year seeking unification fights. Alvarez said there have been preliminary conversations for a bout with Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organization titleholder, in May. Caleb Plant holds the fourth sanctioning body belt.

Inactive since Feb. 2019, YIildirim landed the match against Alvarez after the WBCl designated him mandatory challenger.

Alvarez and Yildirim both weighed 167 pounds, a pound under the super-middleweight limit.

Earlier, Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo won a second-tier world flyweight title with a fifth-round technical knockout over late replacement Abraham Rodriguez. Arroyo originally was scheduled to challenge WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez but Martinez withdrew from the bout Thursday because of a hand injury.

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