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Canelo Alvarez could still face Avni Yildirim despite legal battles with Golden Boy, DAZN

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 53-1-2 (36) could still face Avni Yildirim 21-2 (12) in a WBC world title fight despite launching a lawsuit this week against promoter Oscar De La Hoya, promotional team Golden Boy and broadcaster DAZN.

Protracted negotiations for Alvarez to face either WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders or WBA 168-pound champion Callum Smith have stalled, leaving Yildirim in the box seat to claim the lucrative assignment.

The WBC wants to see the fight happen for their vacant super middleweight title and has ordered a purse bid later this month if an agreement cannot be reached.

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“The WBC ordered Canelo versus Yildirim for the vacant title. The purse bid is scheduled for September 21,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told Sky Sports.

Yildirim is backed by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and the Turkish fighter’s promoter Ahmet Oner has said that PBC will make a sizable offer to obtain the promotional rights to the fight at the purse bid.

Sulaiman previously told The Athletic: “[Alvarez] contacted the WBC and requested to fight Yildirim for the title and that is absolutely one of the privileges he has in having the ‘Franchise’ designation.”

Alvarez was awarded ‘Franchise’ champion status by the WBC last year, meaning he can call for the fight against number one contender Yildirim conditional to WBC approval.

David Benavidez lost the WBC super middleweight title on the scales when he came in almost three pounds over the 168-pound weight limit for what would have been his third title defence against Roamer Alexis Angulo last month. The undefeated 23-year-old former champion won by 10th round stoppage, leaving the belt vacant.

Oner remains hopeful that his fighter could face Alvarez for the WBC title.

“We are waiting, I don’t know what happens,” Oner told Sky Sports.

“The plans are made by the WBC. We are the mandatory challenger. Whatever the WBC decides, we have to follow the rules.

“We are happy with our position that we are the mandatory challenger, and if it’s Canelo, it’s great. If it’s a different opponent, then we will see. We’ll go from there, but right now, I don’t know who is fighting us for the vacant title.

“Canelo is a big chance for us, so I let things go smooth. Let him resolve his issues, if it’s possible.

“We’ll be happy if it’s Canelo, and if it’s then decided that Canelo will not fight, then I speak to my partners PBC. We have a contract with them and we have an agreement, so we’ll speak to PBC and the president Mauricio Sulaiman.

“I am still hopeful for Canelo.”

Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher said his fighter was upset they didn’t get the call up to face Yildirim.

“He was disappointed that he didn’t get the WBC,” Gallagher told Sky Sports. “Callum Smith would fight Yildirim.”

The 29-year-old Yildirim has lost just twice in his six-year professional career. Three years ago he was stopped in three by Chris Eubank Jr. In his last outing in February he lost a technical decision to Anthony Dirrell in a competitive fight after an accidental headclash in the seventh-round left Dirrell unable to continue in the 10th.

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