Joel Diaz on Avni Yildirim: ‘He’s going to shock the world!’

Avni Yildirim is a big underdog against Canelo Alvarez (Photo: Matchroom Boxing)


By Chris Robinson

On February 27, Avni Yildirim will look to upset the odds in front of him as he challenges WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. The fight will take place from the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida and will be broadcasted worldwide on DAZN, expect in Mexico.

Yildirim (21-2, 12 KO’s) does not exactly have the credentials to make one think he would have a legitimate chance against Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KO’s), however. His last fight was a technical-decision loss to former champion Anthony Dirrell, and he also was the recipient of a knockout loss at the hands of Chris Eubank Jr. in 2017.

Canelo has a fight lined up with WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders after the Yildrim match, as many are looking at the fight as simply a tune-up for the Mexican superstar.

But don’t tell that to Yildirim’s trainer Joel Diaz. The former title-challenger, who is now one of the sport’s top trainers, believes the Turkish fighter’s improvements in camp will lead to a different outcome than many are expecting later this month.

“Avni came to Indio and in the first week of training he fell in love with my work,” said Diaz. “He was the happiest guy I’ve ever met because this guy is not only a gym rat and a hard worker, but he’s a smart fighter, he loves learning. A lot of the things he never learned in his career, he’s learned them now, and he loves the work I put in, and it doesn’t matter how hard the work is, he never complains.”

For Diaz, best known for guiding Tim Bradley throughout much of his illustrious career, he believes he has the recipe for a big upset in three weeks’ time.

“That’s the reason I like Avni, any trainer would like to have him, he just does what you tell him to do,” said Diaz. “He’s a true soldier; you tell him to do something, he just does it. Avni may be an underdog but he doesn’t care what anybody says, he’s fighting for his country and he’s going to shock the world.”

Also on the Feb. 27 card will be WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) defending his title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs), as well as Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) returning to face veteran Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs).

Chris Robinson can be reached at

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