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Canelo Álvarez subdues Avni Yıldırım then announces Billy Joe Saunders fight

Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez outclassed Avni Yıldırım and retained his world super-middleweight titles with a technical knockout after Yıldırım failed to answer the bell for the fourth round Saturday night.

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

With the victory, Álvarez (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, Álvarez set the pace early with lead left jabs to the head and and lefts and right to the body.

Álvarez landed uppercuts and continued to score with combinations to the body in the second. Yıldırım (21-3) rarely threw punches and the few he did, Álvarez blocked or slipped his shots. Álvarez 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 Álvarez hopes will be a busy year seeking unification fights. Álvarez 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 Álvarez after the WBCl designated him mandatory challenger.

Álvarez and Yıldırım 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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