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Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders still possible for 2020 

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

By Charles Brun: Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders still has a chance of taking place in 2020 despite the coronavirus having already pushed it back from the original May 2 date. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn maintains that WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) has at least until August to get the unification fight against WBA ‘regular’ 168-pound champion Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs).

If the Canelo-Saunders fight hasn’t taken place by August, Hearn states that Canelo will likely jump straight into a September 12 trilogy against Gennadiy Golovkin.

Hearn is still optimistic that Canelo will fight Saunders BEFORE he faces Golovkin later this year. That will depend on the coronavirus going away, and the U.S or UK governments allowing large mass events to take place.

For the time being, it would be best for Hearn and Saunders not to assume that the Canelo fight will take place in 2020. They’ve both obviously been pining away for the Canelo fight to take place for some time, but it’s just unlucky fate that COVID 19 pandemic happened now.

Saunders can fight Canelo up to August

“Canelo wants to fight Billy Joe before he fights Golovkin, and Golovkin wants to fight [Kamil] Szeremeta before he fights Canelo,” said Hearn to IFL TV. “So as long as we come back in June, July or August, I think we’re going to get Canelo against Billy Joe Saunders and then Canelo against Golovkin at the back end of the year.

“The danger for Billy, probably is if boxing doesn’t resume until September or October. Then you might find Canelo jump straight into the GGG fight. Again, I still think the favorite right now is for him [Canelo] to fight Billy Joe Saunders before he fights Golovkin. Listen, all terms were agreed [for Canelo vs. Saunders], and we’re ready to go,” said Hearn.

It would be interesting to know what fight that DAZN and Sky Sports Box Office management would prefer to see between Canelo-Saunders and Canelo-GGG 3. This writer would guess that it would be hands down Canelo vs. Golovkin.

Saunders is a good fighter, but he’s not popular and his defensive style of fighting is an acquired taste for boxing fans. If fans like to see the old hit and run style that Saunders uses, then they would likely prefer to see him face Canelo rather than GGG. For DAZN, they’ll bring in arguably a lot more subscribers for the Canelo vs. Gennadiy trilogy match than Alvarez vs. Saunders.

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Canelo vs. Saunders still possible for June or July

“We were supposed to do a press conference last Tuesday, and obviously Billy was out in Vegas and he’s now come home,” said Hearn on the Canelo vs. Saunders fight. “There will be no press conference for May 2nd because there will be no fight on May 2nd. It’s just a case of when we return. If we go June or July, I’m very confident Billy Joe gets that fight against Canelo Alvarez. 

“I don’t think there’s going to be a lot that changes. Where we’re at now is pretty much self-quarantine and a lockdown is coming, I think. Other than an essential trip to the supermarket or something like that. Unless the British public completely takes on board what is being said, and I think a huge majority has, then it has to and I think that’ll come this week,” said Hearn.

There are still three months to go before June, so it’s possible that Saunders could get the fight against GGG. The news on the coronavirus front is completely negative still, and it’s not looking like the problem is going to go away in the next three months by June.

Hearn would do well to meet with the British Boxing Board of Control to discuss staging fights behind closed doors. If they grant Hearn permission to do that, he would be for the forerunner of a whole new way of staging boxing events during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can believe that other countries would quickly follow Hearn’s steps. If not, then the UK would be the only country staging boxing, and their events would be HUGE. The popularity of the UK fighters would soar with the entire world watching their fights.

Fighters need to be ready for when boxing resumes

“It’s life and we have to deal with it, and we have to look after our families and spend time with our families,” said Hearn.

“That’s the only good thing that’s come out of this. My phone has been quiet because people understand there are no answers right now. When it initially happened, it was about speaking to fighters.

“My message to fighters is, ‘stay busy, stay ready’ because when this comes out, the ones that are ready will be good to go. And the ones that say, ‘Oh no, I’ve been eating and stuffing my face and haven’t trained.’ Then you’re going to wait until the end of the year. So that’s about being disciplined.

That’s all you can be. You just have to be ready for the bounce back and the comeback, that’s what we’re going to be. But like I said, there will be fighters, there will be people, there will be broadcasters, there will be promotional companies that you may never see again, you know?” said Hearn.

While some boxers will continue training hard during the months/years of no boxing action, a lot of fighters won’t. Some will need to get jobs to support themselves if boxing is stopped for too long, and it’ll be difficult for them to train as they had before.

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Hearn’s boxers not being tested for coronavirus

“They’re [DAZN] in a position like any subscription service where you’re paying for a product now that is unfortunately made not available [due to coronavirus]. We are doing and coming up with a couple of different formats. One will be launching next week. It’ll be a little bit different.

“Obviously not boxing, but fight sports-related,” said Hearn. “It’s one of our ideas. Right now our content for a broadcaster is huge, and that’s why we could consider doing behind-closed-door events because broadcasters need live sport. No,” said Hearn when asked if boxers are being tested for coronavirus.

“Unless you go out and buy a test, which I think is 300 quid or something like that,” Hearn continued. “Or if you feel unwell enough to go to a hospital. They’re not available, and that’s one of the problems. Maybe when boxing does come back, maybe that is something that is available. Or maybe that’s something we buy to make sure that anyone who fights is cleared in that respect.

“That’s another conversation with the British Boxing Board of Control. Let’s get through this and get cracking again in the summer,” said Hearn.

If Hearn is going to stage Matchroom cards being closed doors, then he needs to make sure that they acquire testing kits for every event. The unfortunate thing for that is it’s likely the testing could be done right before the fight takes place. That won’t work if Hearn doesn’t find out weeks ahead of time that a fighter is ill with the coronavirus. In other words, discovering on the night of the fight that a fighter is sick with the virus will potentially wreck a lot of fights.

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