On Saturday, February 27th, Matchroom Boxing in conjunction DAZN presents a night of boxing action live from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, as the sport’s top star Canelo Alvarez returns to action and takes on the mandatory challenger for his WBC super-middleweight title Avni Yildirim.
The co-featured will see Julio Cesar Martinez defend his WBC flyweight title against McWilliams Arroyo. Also on the main card is a heavyweight contest as Zhilei Zhang takes on Jerry Forrest.
In total, there are nine bouts scheduled for this event. The main card has an estimated start time of 11PM ET. Let’s step inside the ring to examine the available boxing betting odds and TKO our predictions.
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 22, 2021
Zhilei Zhang vs Jerry Forrest
- Zhilei Zhang (NA)
- Jerry Forrest (NA)
In his last two fights, Zhang was a massive betting favorite with odds of -2500 to -3500. I expect Zhang to be a favorite of that range for this contest.
Zhang vs Forrest Preview
|Details||Zhilei Zhang||Jerry Forrest|
Forrest is nothing more than a warm body for Zhang, which is what he needs until he can get a more high profile opponent.
Forrest has dropped two of this last three fights with both of those losses coming via decision. He fought just once last year, but competed six times in 2019 where he went 5-1. This journeyman is looking for the most notable win of his career.
Forrest credits Zhang for being a good fighter with solid technique. Yet, his goal is to end his opponent’s unbeaten streak:
“Covid has made training difficult with many gyms shut down, but I’ve stayed in shape since my last fight. I’m now up at my manager’s gym in Ashburn, Virginia, and my trainers have been creating a game plan while bringing in sparring partners to match Zhang’s size and style. I’m excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to ending Zhang’s unbeaten streak.”
Zhang is a former silver medalist in the 2008 Olympics. At 37 years old, time is working against him if he wants to become a world champion. And, Zhang has made it clear that’s his goal as he wants to fight world champion Anthony Joshua in China:
“I would love to fight AJ in China because of our amateur backgrounds. The venue is there, the Bird’s Nest holds 100,000, so we have it all. Beijing and Shanghai are the biggest cities, very economically developed and boxing in China is growing. The sports fans there like boxing, they like AJ, so if we can make it happen it would be huge for boxing.”
There’s history between Zhang and Joshua as they fought in the 2012 Olympics where Joshua won. So, Zhang would love another shot at Joshua inside the ring. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening until Zhang moves up the rankings.
This weekend, Zhang gets a durable opponent who will look for the upset. Yet, it’s an opponent that he should beat. The unbeaten Chinese heavyweight has a five inch height advantage and a similar reach advantage.
Who Wins This Fight?
Despite being five years older, Zhang is clearly the better fighter. As long as he doesn’t make any huge mistakes, I see Zhang cruising to a decision victory.
Forrest has only been stopped one time in his career and that came in August 2013. He’s a durable foe and I see him surviving this 10 round bout.
Zhang vs Forrest –Zhilei Zhang (NA)
Julio Cesar Martinez vs McWilliams Arroyo
- Julio Cesar Martinez (NA)
- McWilliams Arroyo (NA)
In his last fight, Martinez was a favorite with odds ranging from -3000 to -4400. I don’t believe his odds will be that high for this fight.
This fight was originally scheduled for last August, but Martinez withdrew from the bout due to being sick.
Martinez vs Arroyo Preview
|Details||Julio Cesar Martinez||McWilliams Arroyo|
Arroyo will try for the third time to win a world title. His first attempt came in September 2014 when he lost against Amnat Ruenroeng via split decision for the IBF world flyweight title. He then lost in April 2016, to Roman Gonzalez via unanimous decision for the WBC flyweight title.
It’s been five years since he had his last world title fight and seven years since his first title opportunity. He’s lost one more time since the two title defeats and that came in September 2018 via unanimous decision to Kazuto Ioka.
— Salvador Rodriguez (@ChavaESPN) January 25, 2021
Arroyo hasn’t fought since December 2019 as the pandemic kept him out of the ring. However, the former Puerto Rican Olympian stayed training the whole time and feels ready for the fight against Martinez this weekend:
“During the time that I was not able to fight the pandemic, I was active in the gym and also working with some fans and people who wanted to practice boxing to stay in shape. So we are ready to go. I’ll take advantage of this opportunity for which we have trained thoroughly. We know that Martinez is a great champion. He is an aggressive fighter and he has my respect, but in the ring it will be something else.”
Martinez won the vacant WBC flyweight title in December 2019 when he beat Cristofer Rosales. He’s successfully defended the belt two times since then.
Martinez has won 17 straight fights. The lone loss of his career came in his first professional contest in 2015. He fought twice in 2020 and won both of them. His last bout was in October 2020 where he defeated Moises Calleros via 2nd round TKO in Mexico City.
Can Arroyo Pull off the Upset?
Arroyo is going to be a respectable challenge for Martinez, but in the end I expect the Mexican champion to come away with a solid decision win. He’s the better fighter between the two which includes having more knockout power.
Following this fight, I expect Martinez to challenge other flyweight world champs as it’s his goal to unify the division.
Martinez vs Arroyo –Martinez (NA)
Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yilidirim
- Canelo Alvarez (-5000)
- Avni Yilidirim (+1400)
As expected, Canelo is a massive favorite with odds ranging from -5000 to -10000 odds at online sportsbooks. He was a -500 favorite in his last contest and hasn’t been an underdog since his two bouts against GGG.
Yildirim was a +350 to +500 underdog in his fight against Dirrell two years ago. He’s three times the underdog in this contest.
Alvarez vs Yilidirim Preview
|Details||Canelo Alvarez||Avni Yilidirim|
Yildirim hasn’t fought in two years since he lost to Anthony Dirrell in the 10th round due to doctor stoppage. He was behind on the scorecards at that point.
The fact that he’s getting a title shot is ridiculous considering he’s not a worthy opponent. He’s a one dimensional fighter with no really knockout power.
Furthermore, he has no elite footwork, head movement, or counter punching. In other words, he’s a punching bag with feet.
Canelo Alvarez wants to keep building his legacy in boxing, and marches forward against Avni Yildirim next Saturday #CaneloYildirim
— Bad Left Hook (@badlefthook) February 21, 2021
His last reputable opponent prior to Dirrell came in October 2017 when he fought Chris Eubank Jr. who beat Avni via 3rd round KO.
Yilidirim is grossly outmatched in this contest and the WBC should be ashamed of themselves. Nevertheless, Yildirim’s team and trainer are confident in their plan for Avni once he steps inside the ring to take on Canelo:
“I’m expecting Avni to react and go get Canelo. Why? Because realistically, a decision we’re not going to win. We know that, everyone [knows it]. Let’s be realistic, I’m not a hypocrite about it. We know that if we go the distance, we’re not going to win based on the situation.”
Why Would Canelo Take This Fight?
Alvarez’s goal is to become the undisputed champ in the super middleweight division. In order to do that, he needs to keep the WBC title along with the WBA belt.
Really, the blame for this pathetic matchup can be laid at the feet of the WBC as this is nothing more than a cash grab by the sanctioning body.
For Canelo, this is nothing more than a paid sparring session as he’s in no real danger of losing. In fact, this fight will last as long as Alvarez wants it to.
With that in mind, Canelo is going to chew up and spit out Yildirim on Saturday night. It would be crazy if this bout goes the distance. Alvarez is going to maul his opponent and probably finish him off with his patented punishing body shots.
There’s no value taking Alvarez. When prop bets come out for this contest then take Canelo to win via TKO/KO and under 10 rounds.
Alvarez vs Yilidirim –Alvarez (-5000)
What’s Next for Canelo After This Fight?
There’s nothing exciting about this weekend’s event in regards to Canelo until after the fight is finished and we see if he calls out Billie Joe Saunders who holds the WBO super middleweight title.
Alvarez’s main mission right now is to become the undisputed super middleweight champ and that requires him fighting Saunders and Caleb Plant:
“It’s important for me and (trainer) Eddy (Reynoso), because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions. And that’s a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds. Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that’s our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that’s what we want. Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history.”
Rumor has it that Saunders could be in line for a fight on May 8th, which is right around when Alvarez typically fights each year.
After that, Canelo would have to turn his attention toward IBF super middleweight champ Caleb Plant as he would be the last fighter with a title in the weight class.
Plant dominated Caleb Truax last month and would be a step up in competition for Canelo from Callum Smith and definitely Yildirim.
Full Card for Canelo vs Yilidirim
- Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yilidirim in a 12 round WBC and WBA super middleweight title fight
- Julio Cesar Martinez vs McWilliams Arroyo in a 12 round WBC flyweight title bout
- Zhilei Zhang vs Jerry Forrest in a 10 round heavyweight contest
- Diego Pacheco vs Rodolfo Gomez Jr. in an 8 round super middleweight clash
- Alexis Espino vs Ashton Sykes in a 6 round super middleweight fight
- Alexis Eduardo Molina vs TBA in a 6 round featherweight bout
- Marc Castro vs Lester Brown in a 4 round junior lightweight contest
- Aaron Aponte vs Harry Gigliotti in a 4 round junior welterweight clash
- Keyshawn Davis vs Lester Brown in a 4 round lightweight fight
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …