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Hearn says Billy Joe Saunders was sick, hopes Canelo selects him for May

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez

By Scott Gilfoid: WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders was sick for his title defense against Marcelo Esteban Coceres (28-1 1, 15 KOs) last Saturday night on the KSI vs. Logan Paul 2 card, says Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn.

The British promoter was in full damage control mode after the fight, saying that Saunders was sick and that he had jet-lag from his long trip from the UK to Los Angeles for the fight.  It was the old jet-lag excuse that Hearn decided to pull out of his bag of excuses for why Saunders looked so poor.

Saunders looked old against Coceres

Saunders looked like a far advanced of his years last Saturday night. The legs were gone, reflexes as well as his hand speed.

It looked like Saunders’ struggles against Coceres weren’t because of sickness or jet-lag. He looks like he’s getting older at 31, and his wheels are no longer there. Saunders has never had any punching power to speak of, and he’s won his fights by using movement to get away from his more powerful opponents.

The weak match-making that’s been done for Saunders through most of his career has 10-year professional career has assured that he would stay unbeaten. The best two opponents that Saunders has faced during his career are Andy Lee and Chris Eubank Jr.  A lot of boxing fans think Eubank Jr. deserved the win over Saunders. That was one of those fights where it was so close that you can’t really call it a win.

Saunders was sick with a throat infection – Hearn

“Well, Canelo will probably want to fight him after that performance [against Marcelo Coceres], you know?” said Hearn to Behind The Gloves about Saunders looking terrible last Saturday. “People sometimes don’t know what goes on behind the scenes that Billy Joe didn’t have a visa. And then we got a call saying that he got it.

“He collected it Saturday, and flew Sunday and arrived Sunday night. He hasn’t slept much since he got here, and he had a throat infection, and he was as flat as a pancake,” said Hearn in full damage control mode about Saunders’ performance.

If Saunders was truly sick with a throat infection, as Hearn maintains, then he should have pulled out of the fight. Making excuses after the fact is a bad look. It gives the impression that you can’t give credit for what Coceres did inside the ring. Saunders would have problems with a guy like Coceres no matter what his condition was. Coceres is a good fighter, and Saunders can’t punch and he’s getting older now. When movers like Saunders get old, they lose their legs. We’ve it many times in the past, and now it’s happening to Saunders.

It’s smart of Hearn to be trying hard to get Saunders a big payday fight, because it’s clear after last night that he won’t stay unbeaten for too much longer. Coceres was a hand-picked fringe contender that Hearn assumed that Saunders could easily beat.

The fact that he almost lost shows that Saunders is getting old, and isn’t the fighter he once was. He never great to begin with, but he’s now very, very vulnerable at 31. In Saunders’ last fight against little known Shefat Isufi, he was badly staggered in the 6th round.

Canelo might want to fight Saunders now

“I thought he was behind in the fight, and I thought he needed a knockout to win, and he pulled it out of the bag,” said Hearn in remarking about Saunders getting dominated. “The way that it finished was brilliant. But if it had gone to points, he would have won, but it would have been a bit of a stinker. But it was a brilliant finish.

“Billy Joe is one of the top fighters in the world, but tonight he looked flat. Hopefully, Canelo looks at that and says, ‘We want him for May,'” said Hearn.

Canelo is going to be laughed at if he faces Saunders now after the way he performed against Coceres. You can’t rule out Canelo taking the Saunders fight, but he’s going to get raked over the coals if he makes this match. Saunders was an unknown in the eyes of U.S boxing fans, and now they saw him look horribly bad against Coceres, it’s a terrible time for Canelo to fight him.

Unless Canelo is completely without confidence, he needs to look another direction. Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol would be great options for Canelo. He’ll need confidence to take on those guys, because they’re both capable of beating him.

Saunders blames performance on chest infection

“I knew I had to dig deep,” said Saunders go Sky Sports Boxing about his victory over Coceres. “I’m not one to make excuses. I came over in five days’ out with nine hours difference. I hadn’t slept right for five days, and I had of a bit of a cough, chest infection,” said Saunders. “You know, I can go on and on, but I’m an honest man. But tonight, that wasn’t a world class performance.

“It was a world class finish, but not a world class performance. But that just shows you the kind of fighter I am. Whether I’m down or not, if I have to finish it, I will,” said Saunders, who has a low 48.28% KO percentage.

“Look, when people are talking to you about the Canelo Alvarez fight, then you’re fighting the Argentinian, you don’t look passed him,” said Saunders. “But you’ve got one eye on him, but one eye is off. I just have to look at my performance, and look what went wrong. The way it is, I was down. I knew I had to push the button and stop him. I knew that in round nine, ‘Billy Joe, you have to stop this man,’ because there was no jab working and no fleet footing,” said Saunders.

Well, without a doctors’ note about Saunders’ health condition, you kind of have to take what he says with a grain of salt. Just looks like Saunders and Hearn are making excuses for a poor performance in the hope of a certain amount of boxing fans buying it.

Billy Joe says his feet weren’t working

“I was trying to get my feet working. It was just like my feet were dipped in glue,” said Saunders. “I did the weight well, but something was missing. Maybe it was the traveling. I don’t know. Canelo may look at that and say, ‘Now is the time to get him. He didn’t look too good.’ The thing you cannot forget about here is I knocked him out when I had to knock him out. I said, ‘Billy Joe, you have to stop him,’ and I stopped him,” Saunders continued.

Saunders needs to realize that his legs aren’t working because he’s getting older. Look at all the fighters from the past that were movers when they were young. When they hit their 30s, they became stationary and started losing left and right. Saunders has now joined their club.

The only person Hearn and Saunders need to be selling their jet-lag and chest cold excuse to is Canelo Alvarez. He’s the one that they’re going to get for next May. Canelo wasn’t born yesterday, so he’s probably not going to buy into the excuse.

Canelo is the one I want next – Saunders 

“So, Canelo Alvarez is the one that I want next, and I’ll put that performance right 100 percent,” said Saunders. “Listen, I can fluctuate between middle and super middle. The bigger fights are at super middle, and I’m a world champion at super middleweight.

“All those super middleweights will look at that performance and go, ‘We don’t got a lot to worry about there. Let’s get him in the ring next.’ So you’re more than welcome,” said Saunders.

We’ve known for the last four years that Saunders wants a fight against Canelo. The problem is he’s not fighting the quality opposition to make a name for himself. Come on, Coceres isn’t the type of opposition that Saunders should be fighting if he wants to get a fight against Canelo or Gennadiy Golovkin.

Saunders was jet-lagged for Coceres

“He’s been jet-lagged the whole week, and he’s been ill the whole week, but he knows that wasn’t the best performance,” said Hearn to Sky Sports in talking about Saunders. “I knew he was going to be flat tonight, because I knew how he was feeling. I knew he wasn’t sleeping. I’ve got to be honest, I thought he was either square or one behind.

“When he knocked him out, I was absolutely potty, because you’ve got a situation there where you’ve got the Jacobs fight, the Canelo fight, the Callum fight,” said Hearn about BIG fights available to Saunders. “And then all of a sudden, you’re in the position where it could be all over.

“So I thought it was a brilliant finish after a poor performance. I’m really happy he was able to get it over the line, because I’ve been nervous all week for him [Saunders] because I know the preparation has been poor. It was one of them [Hearn wipes his brow] when the referee waived it off,” said Hearn.

The jet-lag excuse has got to be the weakest one that Saunders and Hearn could use. All fighters have to travel for fights, but it’s the ones that struggle that use the jet-lag card.

Hearn expects Saunders to get Canelo fight next

“The big fights are coming. I believe he’ll get Canelo next, but if he doesn’t, then I want him to fight Callum Smith in Anfield, but he’s got to beat John Ryder,” said Hearn about Saunders’ next fight. “Canelo fancies the Billy Joe Saunders fight. They’ll fancy it even more after tonight, you know?

“Sometimes after that kind of performance everybody will go; Billy is in that list like Demetrius Andrade and Callum Smith, where people aren’t excited to fight them like Gennady Golovkin, then you watch the [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko fight, and then you watch the Coceres fight, and everyone says, ‘Maybe we’ll fight them,'” said Hearn about Saunders.

At this point if Saunders doesn’t get the Canelo fight next, he’ll lose if he’s matches against any halfway decent contender at 168. Saunders is starting to look shot to pieces. As such, Hearn needs to make sure he matches him against one of these guys next:

  • Callum Smith
  • Demetrius Andrade
  • Caleb Plant
  • Gennadiy Golovkin
  • Jermall Charlo

I can’t see Saunders beating any of those fighters, but at least he’ll get a big payday.

Eddie feeling pressure to deliver “Monster fight” for Saunders

“I have to deliver a monster fight for Billy Joe,” said Hearn. That’s when you’ll see the very best Billy Joe Saunders in the biggest fights. Tonight was the great escape. By the way, great finish against a good fighter in Coceres. He boxed really well.

“He surprised me how good he was and how clever he wasn’t 100 percent, but he got the job done. It was a workmanlike performance, and when he needed to when the chips were down, he delivered and got him out of there,” said Hearn about Saunders.

If you’re Saunders, you got to be wondering when Hearn is finally going to come through with the big fight that he’s always talking about. Since Saunders signed on with Hearn, he’s fought Coceres, Shefat Isufi and Charles Adamu. Where are the big names that Saunders is supposed to be fighting?

Haney and Saunders’ names shoot up on Google analytics

“It was a brilliant experience. I learned so much, and it’s another world,” said Hearn in discussing the KSI vs. Logan Paul 2 card. “Tonight, we saw so many new people watching boxing for the first time. Hopefully, they follow it. This is what someone just messaged me:

‘For those who are interested in seeing what kind of impact this event had on Devon Haney and Billy Joe Saunders’ exposure, both of their names have shot up on Google analytics, and had more than a million impressions since yesterday’s weigh-in.  To put things in perspective, Spence-Porter had 55,000 impressions their entire fight week.’

“Devin was just telling me how many followers he’s gone up. We’ve done eight million views on our Youtube channel. We don’t even got a Youtube channel. We just launched it, do you know what I mean? Everyone benefits from it, but unfortunately the boxing community is so blinkered.

“I understand the hardcore fans might not want to watch that. I thought that was good. But it wasn’t like they were useless. They could fight a little bit. I told everybody during the build up, don’t take it too seriously. Embrace it, and let’s see where it goes.

Saunders and Devin Haney’s names popped up on Google analytics because they were on the KSI vs. Logan Paul card. They weren’t on their because of their fights were in demand.

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