DAZN Won't Approve Avni Yildirim As Canelo Alvarez's Next Opponent

DAZN’s decision-makers weren’t interested in paying even a discounted rights fee to stream a Canelo Alvarez-Anthony Dirrell fight.

They have no intention of footing the bill for Alvarez to fight someone Dirrell defeated, either.

BoxingScene.com has learned DAZN won’t approve an Alvarez-Avni Yildirim fight next for the Mexican superstar. The WBC’s board of governors ordered an Alvarez-Yildirim bout Tuesday for its vacant super middleweight title.

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As of Wednesday afternoon, Golden Boy, which promotes Alvarez, had not proposed an Alvarez-Yildirim fight to DAZN. Nevertheless, Alvarez/Golden Boy and DAZN remain at an impasse regarding who Alvarez will face next and how much money the four-division champion will be paid for that bout.

The 30-year-old Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) had hoped to return to the ring September 12. He won’t fight that night because that date is just three weeks from Saturday, and he doesn’t have an opponent.

DAZN, with which Alvarez and Golden Boy have an exclusive deal, is open to Alvarez fighting sometime in October or November if they can come to an agreement on a suitable opponent and license fee. Alvarez would be heavily favored to defeat Yildirim, whose third-round knockout defeat to Chris Eubank Jr. in October 2017 is among the reasons DAZN isn’t interested in paying Alvarez to fight him.

Alvarez has not fought since November 2, when he knocked out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to win the WBO light heavyweight title at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

DAZN most recently offered for Alvarez’s next fight approximately half of the $40 million package Alvarez’s side has been paid for each of his past two bouts, victories over Kovalev and Daniel Jacobs that DAZN financed as part of an 11-fight deal the streaming service struck with Alvarez and Golden Boy in October 2018. Alvarez, Golden Boy, Alvarez’s opponents and those opponents’ handlers are paid out of the license fees DAZN pays per fight.

DAZN spent freely to make an immediate impact in the U.S. market upon entering the boxing business two years ago. It has recalibrated its financial approach since it began streaming boxing again last month.

An unfazed Alvarez still expects to be paid the full amounts per fight stipulated in his contract.

DAZN executives John Skipper and Joe Markowski have stressed, however, the need for Golden Boy and Alvarez to deliver what DAZN considers premium events if DAZN is to pay the $40 million per fight Alvarez and Golden Boy expect from their agreement. They don’t consider Yildirim, Dirrell or some other boxers Golden Boy has proposed to be premium opponents.

Gennadiy Golovkin is the premium opponent DAZN most wants to match against Alvarez.

Their third fight won’t happen next because Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) has a contract to make a mandatory defense of his IBF middleweight title against Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs). The Golovkin-Szeremeta match has not yet been scheduled.

Callum Smith is a possible opponent DAZN has approved for Alvarez’s next bout, but not for the $40 million package Alvarez expects. England’s Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) owns the WBA super middleweight title.

Alvarez was supposed to challenge England’s Billy Joe Saunders for the unbeaten Brit’s WBO super middleweight title May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alvarez is free to find another opponent to box next because neither he nor Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) had signed contracts for their fight. Saunders removed himself from consideration to battle Alvarez on September 12.

The WBC super middleweight title is vacant because former champion David Benavidez came in 2¾ pounds overweight Friday for what was supposed to be an optional title defense against Alexis Angulo on Saturday night. Phoenix’s Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) was stripped of that title before he beat Colombia’s Angulo (26-2, 22 KOs) by technical knockout following 10 largely lopsided rounds at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Turkey’s Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) is the WBC’s mandatory challenger and would’ve battled Benavidez next had he retained his title by beating Angulo. Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) edged Yildirim by technical split decision to win the then-vacant WBC super middleweight title in February 2019.

Alvarez is the WBC’s “franchise” middleweight champion, an unusual designation that affords him the flexibility to compete in different weight classes while officially maintaining his status as a WBC 160-pound champion. 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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