Canelo Alvarez discusses potentially fighting Billy Joe Saunders next

By Boxing News - 01/09/2020 - Comments

By Sean Jones: WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez says he likes WBO 168-lb champion Billy Joe Saunders as a potential opponent for his next fight on May 2. Canelo views the unbeaten former 2 division world champion Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) as a “GREAT fight” for him.

Saunders, 30, has a chance of getting the next fight for Canelo due to a couple of factors:

  • He’s with DAZN
  • Not a dangerous fighter
  • Little power
  • He’s British – and he’ll help Canelo win fans in the UK
  • Easy mark for Canelo win another title

Canelo views Saunders as good fight

“A fight between me and Billy Joe Saunders is a great fight, he’s a great fighter. He’s a difficult southpaw and a champion, it’s a good fight. It literally is no boxing, no life. I just won a fourth world title, and I’m here back in the gym. It’s not boxing no life for me,” said Canelo.

By Canelo saying Saunders is a “great fight,” it’s unclear exactly what he means by that. Canelo could meant that Saunders is an EASY FiGHT or one that benefits him in terms of winning new British boxing fans. By fighting Saunders, it’ll help Canelo win over fans in the UK market.

Unfortunately, it won’t do much to create interest and attract new subscribers to DAZN in the U.S, as Saunders is an unknown fighter. American casual boxing fans won’t be excited at seeing a foreign fighter, who doesn’t have a great reputation for putting on entertaining fights.

Shortly after the World Boxing Organization ordered Saunders to defend against his mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade at 160, he vacated his title shortly after testing positive for the banned substance oxilofrine. Saunders vacated his WBO belt rather than being stripped of the title. Andrade then captured the vacant WBO middleweight belt in beating Walter Kautondokwa.

Saunders won WBO 168lb title against Shefat Isufi

It would have been interesting to see how well Saunders would have done against the unbeaten 2012 U.S Olympian Andrade. More than a few boxing fans believed Andrade would have beaten Saunders with ease had that fight took place. In moving up to 168, Saunders dodged a bullet and swerved an almost sure thing loss to Andrade.

Saunders moved up  in weight and defeated light heavyweight journeyman Charles Adamu (33-15, 26 KOs) by the 4th round stoppage in December 2018. In Canelo’s next fight following that mismatch, he moved down to 168 and defeated little-known Shefat Isufi (29-4-1, 21 KOs) by a harder than expected 12 round unanimous decision in May 2019 to win the vacant WBO 168-lb title. During that fight, Saunders was staggered badly the German fighter Isufi/

In Saunder’s first defense of his WBO super middleweight title, he defeated fringe contender Marcelo Estaban Coceres (28-1-1, 15 KOs) by an 11th round knockout on November 9 on the undercard of KSI vs. Logan Paul II at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Saunders was losing to Coceres through 10 rounds when came on to drop him twice in the 11th to get the stoppage.

Saunders hasn’t looked impressive at super middleweight

What we can get from Saunders’ 2 fights at 168 is the fact that he hasn’t looked at all impressive since moving up in weight, and his days as a champion are numbered. A lot of boxing fans view Saunders as the weakest link among the current belt holders at super middleweight.

As such, if Canelo beats Saunders to win his WBO 168-lb title, he’ll be viewed as a cherry-picker by a lot of people. They’ll see this as a weak move on Canelo’s part to defeat ANOTHER poor WBO champion.

In Saunders’ previous fight on November 2, he beat WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) by an 11th round knockout. Kovalev was seen by a lot of boxing fans as the WEAKEST link among the 175lb champions. So if Canelo beats Saunders to win his WBO title, he’ll be seen as an opportunist by a lot of people in the way that he picks out his weaker opponents.

To win his WBA ‘secondary’ super middleweight title, Canelo beat champion Rocky Fielding by a 3rd round knockout in December 2018. Fielding was seen by a lot of boxing fans as the weakest of the 4 champions at super middleweight at the time Canelo fought him. As such, if Canelo beats Saunders, it’ll be the third time in the last 2 years that he’s beaten a weaker champion.

Canelo would have TOUGH time against other 168lb champs

The other champions at 168 would arguably be MUCH tougher fights for Canelo, as they have talent, power and size. Saunders is basically still a middleweight, but with no power to speak of. If Canelo wanted to capture one of the other word titles at 168, he would have to fight these very tough champions:

  • David Benavidez – WBC super middleweight champ
  • Callum Smith – WBA Super World
  • Caleb Plant – IBF

Nevertheless, Canelo, 29, says he’s got other options as well for his May 2 fight, and more fighters are being added to his list. British boxing fans like the idea of Saunders being Canelo’s next fight, but Americans don’t share the same love for that fight.

The ones that are familiar with the southpaw Saunders view him as a SPOILER type of fighter, who has only fought one good opponent [Andy Lee] in the last five years of his career. For those who haven’t seen Saunders fight, he tends to do box, move and try and taunt his opponents. He doesn’t have any punching power to speak of, and he wins his fights on craftiness. He’s like a small version Tyson Fury, but without his fan base in the U.S.

List of opponents GROWING for Canelo’s May 2 fight

“I took a week of vacations, and on Tuesday I was back in the gym training. And I like it a lot, and I like training. I love being in the gym. It makes me feel really good. And the list of opponents are going to keep growing. There’s no rush in that. After I beat one, there’s five new opponents that pop up,” said Canelo.

Assuming Canelo chooses to fight next at super middleweight, he has good options available to him. Saunders isn’t one of them though. These are the talented super middleweights that Canelo could fight that would interest fans:

  • Callum Smith
  • Caleb Plant
  • David Benavidez

The super middleweight is barren of names unfortunately right now, and aside from those three along with Daniel Jacobs, the division is empty of talent. Some believe that Canelo has purposefully moved up to 168 in order to avoid being pressured to fight WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, Demetrius Andrade and Gennadiy Golovkin. By moving up to 168, Canelo now has an excuse why he doesn’t have to fight those guys. At the same time, there’s a lot of easy fights for Canelo in the 168lb division.

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