Former two-division champion Tim Bradley, who is part of ESPN’s broadcast team for their boxing events, is expecting Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to overwhelm and brutally knock out Avni Yildirim.
Canelo will defend the WBC, WBA super middleweight titles against Yildirim on February 27 in Miami, Florida.
Yildirim is the mandatory challenger to the WBC’s title.
Canelo was in action last month, when he dominated unbeaten Callum Smith over twelve rounds to capture the WBC, WBA titles.
Bradley is not expecting much of a contest.
He believes Canelo will break down and stop Yildirim in vicious fashion before the sixth round.
“In a fight like this, Canelo should look very, very impressive, and he should win this fight in spectacular fashion. It should be a highlight-reel knockout. SportsCenter top 10, top 10 KOs in all of boxing by the end of 2021 when all is said and done. He can raise his profile and his standing with a KO win, because that’s what a lot of fans want to see,” Bradley said to ESPN.
“Yildirim should get stopped before Round 6. He’s a mandatory challenger who deserves to fight Canelo, according to the sanctioning body. But at this point we know what these sanctioning bodies are about. Moving guys into certain places that can benefit their pockets, their franchise and improve the way their marquee fighters look. Why isn’t a guy like [David] Benavidez, who had that title and was one of the youngest guys ever to win that same title, in line for a chance to try to win it back instead?”
Bradley also is not satisfied with Canelo’s level of opposition in his last few fights.
In the fall of 2019, he moved up by two weight divisions to score a knockout of Sergey Kovalev, capturing the WBO title at 175-pounds. There were some critics who felt Kovalev, at this point, is a faded shell of his former self. And Smith was coming back from a very tough win over John Ryder, in a fight where many felt Ryder had done enough to win.
Should Canelo defeat Yildirim, he will potentially face WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in May. Canelo will be a massive favorite in that fight, especially with Saunders putting in lackluster performances in his recent ring outings.
Bradley wants to see Canelo facing more dangerous options.
“The only problem I have with Alvarez: He’s not fighting the best guys right now. He’s winning these belts, challenging guys in different weight classes. You have a guy at 168 in Benavidez who wants all of the smoke, but Canelo won’t fight him. You have a guy in Jermall Charlo who would probably be willing to go up to fight Canelo. There’s always talk about how these guys don’t really want the fight, or how the money isn’t right, or how they haven’t fought enough ‘names’ to be worthy of the shot, but come on. Stop it. It’s just a way to avoid a fighter and a fight you don’t want,” Bradley said.
And can Yildirim do anything to upset the odds?
Absolutely nothing, says Bradley.
The veteran explains that Yildirim was demolished in a few rounds by Chris Eubank Jr. – and now he’s coming off a two-year layoff to face one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Bradley has no interest in paying to watch the fight, which is going to be offered on DAZN’s streaming service and on pay-per-view.
“Yildirim is a punching bag. I watched his fight against Chris Eubank Jr., and he got smoked in that fight. I saw him against Dirrell. The Dirrell fight was an exciting, wild fight and it ended prematurely, but he lost. That’s his most recent fight, and it was two years ago. Now he’s going to step up against Canelo and do better than that?,” Bradley said.
“He’s one-dimensional. There’s nothing that Yildirim should be able to do against Canelo. He doesn’t have that one-punch knockout power. He’s a guy who comes straight forward. His head is always in the middle. He leans forward over his front knee. He’s almost 6 feet tall, and Canelo’s smaller, around 5-foot-9, but we’ve seen Canelo have success against taller guys. And even so, Yildirim and Canelo have the same arm reach.
“You look at Yildirim, and he’s fought a few guys, but anytime he has stepped up his class of opponent, he’s been destroyed. He looks terrible. He gets beaten. If Canelo does not knock this guy out, he cannot possibly be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It’s just a fight. It’s nothing that I would be willing to pay for to watch.”