Never one to undersell a fighter, manager Ahmet Oner believes his super-middleweight contender Avni Yildirim can achieve the unthinkable and topple unified champion Canelo Alvarez in their clash at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February 27.
Yildirim’s chances are currently ranked as somewhere between slim and none, with the bookmakers currently pegging the Turkish challenger as a 12-1 outsider and sceptics pointing to a crushing three-round KO defeat to Chris Eubank Jr. in October 2017.
But Oner is channelling the spirit of past underdogs Buster Douglas and Andy Ruiz, believing Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) can also shock the boxing world later this month.
“This is the biggest fight in the world for Avni. He knows that he can put his mark and name on the world. Obviously, it’s not the same with this coronavirus thing and we won’t have as many viewers. It won’t be like old times, but I hope it’s a good event, a good fight and we’ll see how Avni does it,” Oner told Jorge Ebro of the El Nuevo Herald.
“Avni is strong and big. Believe in him. I don’t know why people think so little about Avni. Maybe because of [the] Chris Eubank [fight], but Avni’s improved. Canelo is undoubtedly very strong, but he is not a God, he is a human being and as a human being he has his weak and strong parts. People underestimate my boxer a lot. We’ll see what happens in the fight. Maybe we’re going to shake the whole world.
“Avni is better than Buster Douglas was. [Andy] Ruiz is good, but look at what Avni looks like and what Ruiz looks like. Avni looks like an athlete. You can’t always judge by knockout against Eubank, who has a different style than Canelo. Now we have a very good coach, Joel Diaz, who is overseeing Avni’s development. Now he’s on a different level.
“I don’t want to judge [Canelo’s last opponent] Callum Smith, but I expected a lot more from him. I was a little disappointed, but it’s boxing. Two fight and one will win. If he had been braver, maybe Smith would have done more. Maybe he would have lost by knockout. In my opinion, he was there to survive. It didn’t look like he wanted to win, just survive. Avni will be different.”