Canelo Alvarez vs. BJ Saunders could be announced next week
By Sean Jones: Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. BJ Saunders is rumored to be announced next week for May 2. This will be a unification fight between WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2,36 KOs) and WBO champion Saunders (24-0, 14 KOs) for Las Vegas, Nevada.
A lot of boxing fans were hoping that Canelo would pick out Callum Smith as his next opponent. Smith is flawed, but he’s big and he can punch. He’s very dangerous. For that reason, few fans thought Smith had any shot at getting the fight against Canelo.
Unfortunately, it was predictable that Saunders would get the fight with Canelo, considering how animated Alvarez’s trainer Eddy Reynoso was when he was asked about him.
Reynoso was smothering Saunders with compliments in the same way he did with Sergey Kovalev before Canelo fought him. Although Reynoso has a reputation for surprising boxing fans by picking guys they would least suspect for Canelo to fight, he’s not doing it in this case.
Fans have known that Saunders would get picked for weeks, because he’s the softest target at 168. Canelo just picked out the softest target at 175 in going after Sergey Kovalev, and now he’s doing it at 168. If he holds to this pattern, his next fight after Saunders will be against WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Ryota Murata for September of this year.
Eddy went way overboard in building up Kovalev by saying he was better than all the other light heavyweight champions. I’ll be fun to see if Reynoso justifies Canelo’s choice of Saunders by telling the boxing media that he’s the best super middleweight in the division.
Bad timing for Canelo to be fighting Saunders
The timing is obviously poor for Canelo to be fighting Saunders, because the British fighter is coming off a bad performance in beating Marcelo Esteban Coceres on November 9. American boxing fans likely didn’t see Saunder’ fight with Coceres, so they won’t give Canelo as much grief as the fans that did see that fight.
Next to Saunder’s bad showing against Artur Akavov in 2016, this was the second worst performance. It’s more than a little disappointing that Canelo is choosing to fight Saunders rather than a fighter that is looking good, and is popular.
For many fans, it’s not all that surprising that Saunders, 30, is getting the fight with Canelo, as Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has been saying for months now that Billy Joe and Callum Smith are the two fighters that Alvarez would be choosing from for his next fight. It’s important that Canelo fight someone with DAZN, and the choices are extremely limited.
Billy Joe has done little as a world champion
Saunders has consistently held a world title since 2015 when he edged Andy Lee by a 12 round majority decision to win the WBO middleweight title. As a champion, Saunders failed to capitalize on the situation by fighting quality fighters.
Part of the problem was the injuries that Saunders had. he was cnstantly getting hurt, and this led to a lot of down time. Furing Saunders fuve years as a world champion, he’s defended his two titles exactly 4 times against these fighters:
- Willie Monroe Jr
- David Lemieux
- Artur Akavov
- Marcelo Esteban Coceres
To say that Saunders failed to take advantage of his five years as a world champion is an understatement. When you’ve been a champion for five years, and defended your titles only 4 times, that suggests there’s a problem.
What’s even more disappointing is the quality of Saunders’ opponent. The main criticism boxing fans have about Saunders is the way that he’s been milking his WBO titles against constantly weak opposition without even good opponent being mixed in.
When Saunders was finally in a position where he needed to defend against a talented opponent in Demetrius Andrade, he vacated his belt.
It’s interesting that Canelo is continuing to fight in Vegas year after year despite his many controversial decisions in that city.