By James Blears
Alas…a prophet is seldom recognized, even in their own home town.
Some, but not all people plus pundits, even in Sivas, Turkey, are already unctuously wringing their hands, nodding wisely, while simultaneously shaking their heads, and blithely writing off the chances of Avni Yildrim.
“How brave! I`m sure he`ll try his utmost. Whatever happens…he`ll give it his very best shot.” To quote Don King, they believe and they`re convinced Avni`s chances are: “Slim or none…and Slim`s out of town.”
I`m absolutely sure Avni isn`t signing off, by going into this super middleweight firestorm challenge, which he knows constitutes the very fight of his life, with such a morose defeatist attitude. Be assured Avni is defiant. He`s not there to make up the numbers. He`s convinced that he can win, he aims to win and he` s going all out to try to achieve a stunning upset. As underdog, he carries no hangdog weight of expectation burdening him.
As the Great Bruce Lee said, or should have said: “I`m not in this World to live up to your expectations, and you`re not in this World to live up to mine.”
In equal but differing, and non dithering measure, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who`s odds on at the starter`s post, isn`t overlooking this fight for one single moment, and he`s taking absolutely nothing for granted.
Prudent, rather than cautious by inclination and nature, Canelo knows that all opponents constitute a percentage risk and with it, potential potent danger. A surefire hot favorite, still has to execute an effective performance on the night.
Avni`s Manager and friend Ahmet Oner, insists that upsets can and do happen. Andy Ruiz was unfancied against Anthony Joshua, who was making his US debut. But there was an awkward adjustment equation, which wasn`t correctly, exactly or properly balanced or factored in, so in buzzed a fly straight into the ointment.
Joshua was originally supposed to be fighting Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. Teething problems ensued, this then changed, and Andy jumped in at almost the last minute, when offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Bingo! He rattled Anthony and then struck the jackpot!
Years earlier, Mike Tyson didn`t consider James “Buster” Douglas too much of a threat and lost focus concerning the simple bare necessities of life. Buster was better prepared and greatly motivated by the words of his Mother Lula Pearl, who died twenty three days before the fight. Unlike many, she really believed in him, and he justified her confidence by creating a veritable halabaloo!
Up to that fateful hiccough, “Iron Mike” wasn`t the only one, who had been absolutely absorbed and enamored with his own invincibility. When a Japanese Customs Official asked Ed Schuyler of Associated Press, just how long he expected to working in the Country, the laconic response came straight back: “Oh… about ninety seconds.”
Let`s be honest! It`s extremely unlikely that Canelo will be caught cold, or commit the same naughty misjudgment error involving crass underestimation.
The big question mark which looms over Avni, comes from his stutter in Stuttgart against Chris Eubank Jr, who iced him in the third, during their quarter final of the World Boxing Super Series. He`s since made up for that blunder, by defeating Marco Antonio Periban for the vacant WBC International Title.
He was getting ever stronger and visibly more confident against Anthony Dirrell, with the vacant WBC belt on the line, but a clash of heads saw Dirrell severely cut and it had to be halted in the tenth. Avni came up just short, losing a technical decision. So near…yet so far. So far…so good, or has his best chance come and gone?
Avni`s record is 21-2, 12 KO`s. Canelo`s is 54-1, 36 KO`s. Both have fought and won at light heavyweight. Now back at their more natural poundage, Avni is the physically bigger super middleweight, while Canelo is the stockier, stouter and more subtle one. Many label Avni as a stepping stone. Few consider him to be a pebble in the shoe, far less a shoe in. We will see!
Joel Diaz has been Avni`s Coach since October 2019. Chepo and Eddy Reynoso have been Canelo`s Coaches for half his life!
Things could heat up uncomfortably quickly for Avni in the forge like heat of Miami, unless he can avoid Canelo`s hammering body attack, which bypasses the bannisters, as it ascends.
Avni must smother and dodge this, or he risks becoming malleable and overwrought. He needs to perpetually stay on the move, not allowing Canelo to plant his feet and his punches. A lesson to be learned rather than absorbed, for this is the unforgiving school of hard knocks at The Hard Rock. A moment of lost concentration, could well transform it into bad day at black rock.
So, Avni cannot afford to make any significant mistakes at this rarefied level, or the momentum of the mountain will come to him! A chasm lies below a precipice. Although Canelo is only eleven months older aged thirty, he`s amassed a wealth more experience. A matured World Champion in four weight divisions.
Thankfully no war or words yet. Avni has thus far avoided the mistake of verbal showboating. Rather, he`s employing taciturn respect and restraint. He`s wisely and mostly availed himself of his right to silence. Same with Canelo. It`s mutual respect.
In her masterpiece All Roads Lead to the Sea, Alison McGhee observes: “You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, emotion, defense, offense. Back and forth. They expect you to leap into the fray fists up.”
Avni who`s hands down the “Dark Horse,” in all of this, would do well to stay calm and focused at all times, or his footwork and coordination will abandon him, he`ll flounder out of his depth, find himself all a sea and for sure drown in an offshore riptide welter of blows.
BTW, if Avni won, triggering a seismic global shockwave, surging and rippling throughout boxing top to bottom, he`d be the first Turkish National to hold aloft a world title, but not the first Turkish born boxer to win one.
Thanks to WBC Official Historian and Media Director, Don Victor Cota`s exacting and legendary “Homework Assignments,” I discovered Anton Christoforidis, who won the vacant NBA light heavyweight World title by UD over Melio Bettina in 1941, was born in 1917, in Mersin, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire, and is now part of modern Turkey. But as a small child he moved to Smyrna, now known as Izmir in Anatolia and then went to Athens, with his mother and two sisters. Thereafter, he always referred to himself as Greek.
The unpredictably of Boxing, is its most thrilling and exciting lightning bolt. Huge upsets sometimes do happen, but only once in a blue moon. It`ll also need to be crescent shaped, to enable Avni to reach out… and catch a shooting star?
WBC STATS WBC SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE CHAMPIONSHIP HARD ROCK STADIUMMIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
FEBRUARY 27, 2021
TV: ESPN / TV AZTECA/ DAZN
THIS WILL BE THE WBC’S 2, 098 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FIGHT IN THE FIFTY-EIGHT YEAR HISTORY OF THE WBC
EDDIE HEARN & MATCHROOM BOXING, PRESENTS:
WBC SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION
Date of Birth: July 18, 1990
Birthplace: Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Jalisco
Residence: Guadalajara, Jalisco
Record: 54-1-2, 36 ko’s
KO’S %: 63.2%
Total rounds: 414
World title fights: 16 (14-1-1)
Trainer: Eddy Reynoso
Manager: Eddy Reynoso
WBC no. 2 / OFFICIAL CHALLENGER
Date of Birth: August 5, 1991
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey
Residence: Istanbul, Turkey
Alias: Mr. Robot
Record: 21-2-0, 12 ko’s
KO’S %: 52.2%
Total rounds: 132
World title fights: 1 (1-0-0)
Manager: Ahmet Oener
Promoter: Arena Box Promotion
WBC SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONS
WBC´S SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT TOP TEN CHAMPIONS
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
23 WORLD CHAMPIONS RECOGNIZED BY THE WBC
OF WHICH ONLY 3 HAVE REGAINED THEIR TITLE:
MARKUS BEYER (GERMANY)
THULANE MALINGA (S. AFRICA)
CARL FROCH (GB)
79 WORLD TITLE BOUTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
THIS WILL BE THE 27th. TITLE FIGHT OF WHICH HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN UNITED STATES IN SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
WORLD SUPERMIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE BOUTS BY COUNTRY IN WBC HISTORY
SOUTH ARABIA 1
SOUTH AFRICA 1
TOTAL FIGHTS 79
** IN THIS DIVISION NIGEL BENN HAS THE RECORD OF DEFENSES WITH 10
WBC TITLE BOUTS HELD IN THE
34 BOUTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN THE FLORIDA STATE IN THE ENTIRE WBC HISTORY.
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST FIGHT IN THE SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION IN FLORIDA STATE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST FIGHT BETWEEN MEXICO vs. TURKEY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WBC
BREAKDOWN BY DIVISION:
TOTAL BOUTS 34