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Saunders: I want Canelo or Cotto

By Scott Gilfoid: After winning the WBO middleweight title last night in Manchester, UK, Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) says that he wants to fight the best in the 160lb division starting with either WBC middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or Miguel Cotto. Saunders beats Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) by a disputed 12 round majority decision at the Manchester Arena in England.

Thus far, Canelo and Cotto have not spoken up about whether they would be interested in fighting the 26-year-old Saunders. Canelo has a voluntary defense of his WBC title coming up on May 7th, so it’s possible that he might show some interest in taking the fight if it makes sense financially.

For Saunders to get a fight against Cotto or Canelo, they would need to see it as a fight that would interest in the American boxing public. It’s all well and good that the British public would like to see Saunders fight Canelo or Canelo, because they know who those two fighters are and they respect them. However, the American public is not familiar with Saunders. I am just saying.

The hardcore American fans know who Saunders is, but he’s not someone that is mentioned frequently by the hardcore fans. In other words, I would venture to guess that Saunders is not someone too highly thought of by the U.S hardcore fans, because they tend to speak frequently about fighters they are enamored with. For example, IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is a non-American, and yet the American fans speak about him night and day. As such, I do not see the appeal being there for Cotto or Canelo burn up one of their fights using it to face Saunders.

“I want Cotto, Canelo,” Saunders said at the post-fight press conference last Saturday night. “I would love them fights. I want to move up.”

I think it’s probably in Canelo and Cotto’s best interest to focus on fighting guys that the U.S boxing public as a whole knows about rather than them focusing on fighting an obscure foreign fighter for a paper title. Canelo is already seen as a paper champion by many boxing fans for failing to face Golovkin.

The last thing Canelo needs is to be seen as a dual paper champion after beating Saunders. As for Cotto, I can’t see him using up one of his last remaining fights of his career to fight a guy like Saunders. For one, it’s not a fight that is pay-per-view worthy on HBO, and that’s something that is obviously important to Cotto. And more importantly, Saunders is too much of a play it safe type boxer than a puncher, and that’s not likely someone that Cotto wants to fight at this point in his career.

Saunders doesn’t have an appealing fighting style, and Cotto would have to do all the work to make the fight interesting. If all Saunders was going to do is stay on the outside all night long looking to land occasional counter shots when Cotto missed punches, it would be so incredibly dull to watch that it wouldn’t even be funny.

I think Saunders is better off either giving Andy Lee a rematch or defending his title against the World Boxing Organization’s top 15 contenders. That’s the best I can see happening for Saunders. WBA middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs isn’t interested in fighting him., and I don’t see Canelo or Cotto wanting to waste their time fighting an obscure champion.

Saunders won the fight by the scores of 113-113, 114-112 and 115-111. The proper score might have been the 113-113 score, because Lee came back strong after being knocked down twice in the 3rd round. Those were easily the best rounds of the fight for Saunders.

After the third, Saunders became too cautious and did not attempt to any more of his hard right hands, which was his money punch in this fight. Saunders occasionally landed left hands, but those were few and far in between. It was Saunders’ right hand punches that knocked Lee down twice in the third round of the fight. Nevertheless, surprisingly, Saunders stopped trying to land that shot after having some success in the third.

Some boxing fans are not too happy with the scoring of the contest, as they point out that all three of the judges that worked the fight were from England rather than there being a mix of judges from different countries.

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