John Locher/Associated Press
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has agreed to a super middleweight unification bout with Billy Joe Saunders in May on DAZN, according to Mike Coppinger of The Athletic.
The deal came together after a May 2020 fight between the two fell apart amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. DAZN is set to exclusively show the event on either May 1 or May 8.
Yet before Alvarez looks to solidify himself atop the super middleweight class, he’ll have to first defeat Avni Yildirim on February 27. The contract with Saunders raises the stakes for Alvarez over the next few months, as he’ll not only have to win against Yildirim but also stay healthy between bouts.
Alvarez (54-1, 36 KOs) has never faced either of these fighters, which presents a strong challenge for the sport’s pound-for-pound best boxer.
Saunders is a southpaw with a perfect record at 30-0 (14 KOs). This is not a sham title defense, as both fighters stand plenty to lose and a lot to gain.
Saunders claimed the WBO middleweight title from Andy Lee in 2015 and successfully defended the belt on three occasions. He then took the WBO’s vacant super middleweight title in May 2019 and has since defended it twice. The winner of the Canelo-Saunders bout would hold three of the four super middleweight belts (including the WBA and WBC titles).
As for Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), Alvarez steps in against a 29-year-old from Turkey who needs to prove himself after a technical decision against Anthony Dirrell cost him the vacant super middleweight title in February 2019. Two years later, Yildirim is ready to get back in the ring against the sport’s best.
If nothing else, lining up title defenses only months apart shows Alvarez isn’t slowing down. He’s raising the stakes for himself and testing how far he can take his stardom.