By Allan Fox: Adam Smith of Sky Sports thinks Billy Joe Saunders could cause Canelo Alvarez a lot of problems when they fight on May 2. Smith believes an upset for WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) is certainly possible, but it’ll be tough for him to get a decision with the contest taking place in Las Vegas.
Canelo and Saunders are still on course to meet on May 2 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but they’re waiting on the announcement by Golden Boy Promotions. Understandably, Golden Boy is delaying making it official until they find out more about what the status is with the coronavirus pandemic. Right now, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has suspended combat sports until March 25.
Saunders was handpicked by Canelo
The Canelo vs Saunders fight could be delayed or it may need to be moved to another state. Canelo can’t afford to invest the entire year waiting on the Saunders fight because he’s not in demand by American boxing fans. This is a fight that Canelo wanted, but not the U.S public. You can figure out why Canelo chose Saunders over Jermall Charlo, Artur Beterbiev, Demetrius Andrade and Dmitry Bivol. With that said, Canelo can’t use up all of 2020 waiting for the Nevada Commission to give the all-clear sign for boxing to resume again in the state.
Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) chose Saunders as his opponent over WBA 168-lb champion Callum Smith for some reason. It’s believed that Canelo views Saunders as an easier option for him than the 6’3″ Smith, who can punch.
Saunders, 30, will be a much different animal than what he would have dealt with had he fought the slugger Callum, but that his preference. Canelo believes he can overcome Saunders’ slick fighting style from what he learned in his fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erislandy Lara, and Austin Trout.
Billy Joe has a real chance against Canelo
“I think it’s terrific that Billy Joe has finally got the fight,” said Adam Smith to
PepTalkUK on Saunders getting the fight against Canelo. “He’s always fancied a shot at Canelo, and always thought he had the style to give him problems. It’s a tough ask if it does happen.
“With the virus to one side, because we don’t know when that’ll happen and maybe it’ll get delayed and happen somewhere else on another date. That may suit Billy Joe better. I think it’s very tough in Las Vegas to get a decision out there against Canelo obviously.
“Canelo will be a big favorite going in, but I think Billy Joe has got a real chance of causing him a lot of trouble. I think he deserves it. He’s been hanging around, waiting for it. It could have been hit or Callum. I’m glad it’s one of them. Callum has a huge amount of other fights. He can take a rematch with Ryder, he can fight Daniel Jacobs, and he can fight Chris Eubank Jr. I think that would be a great domestic affair.
“He could fight the winner or the loser of Canelo and Billy Joe. There’s a load out there for Callum. I always thought it was always going to be one of the two [Callum or Saunder fighting Canelo],” said Smith.
The Billy Joe that beat David Lemieux by a one-sided 12 round decision in 2017 would have an excellent chance of beating Canelo. He still might beat Canelo if the fight is held in Las Vegas, but he would have a real shot at defeating Canelo in the eyes of the public the way Gennadiy Golovkin did in 2017. Unfortunately, Saunders hasn’t performed at a high level since the Lemieux fight.
Saunders winning would be BIG upset
“It sounds like Billy Joe is going to get it,” said Smith about Saunders getting Canelo fight. “They’re obviously going to wait and see what happens with the coronavirus because fights in the States are being canceled and postponed left, right and center. If it does, Ben Davison, Billy Joe’s great trainer, I wish them all the best.
“I hope that they can spring wouldn’t be a massive, massive upset. I think it would be if Dereck [Chisora] beat Oleksandr [Usyk] here, but I think it would be a big upset if he were to come out with something in the Canelo fight. And I certainly think he’d push it and give him a really tough test.
“I think Billy Joe’s last performance was fought in LA [against Marcelo Esteban Coceres], and it may have given Team Canelo the sort of, ‘Okay, we’ll take Billy Joe now because he was very disappointing.’ With a performance like that, which was a very sluggish performance I thought, and Billy knew that. I think with a performance like that, he’d be in trouble against Canelo.
“And I don’t see anything like that. I think he’ll be ready for the fight of his life, and I think that he may not win the fight, but he’ll give him real trouble. I think he’ll come away from it with his reputation really enhanced for Billy Joe Saunders,” said Smith.
It would be a big upset to U.S boxing fans if Saunders beats Canelo because they believe he was picked due to how poor he looked in his last two fights. Saunders has looked like a faded fighter in his recent fights against Shefat Isufi and Marcelo Esteban Coceres. Whether that’s age, ring wear or simply him not lacking the motivation is unclear.
Canelo will need to be at his best
“I’m not saying he can’t win this fight,” Adam said of Saunders in talking about his chances against Canelo. “In Vegas, it’s harder. I think Canelo is a terrific fighter. And I watched Daniel Jacobs, who I thought was very good in his own way, and Canelo was too clever for Danny. He may very well be for Billy Joe. He’s got a chance, Billy Joe Saunders.
“He’s fought Kovalev, and he’s coming back down [in weight]. Billy Joe can probably squeeze down to middleweight. He’s in between, isn’t he? That’s always been tricky for Billy Joe. Ultimately, it should come down to the skills for those two guys. The weight shouldn’t have a massive effect. Canelo has come up through them, and Billy Joe too.
“I think it’s fine. It should come down to who has the better quality ultimately. I can see why Canelo is the favorite there. Billy Joe has a fantastic record, he’s a world champion. He’s a tough guy to beat, and Canelo is going to have to be at his very best, and I’m sure he will be,” said Smith.
Saunders will need to be better than his best for him to defeat Canelo if the fight takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That’s the same venue that Canelo fought Golovkin at twice, and fans think that he was given gifts both times.
They had GGG winning the first fight in 2017, and they saw the rematch in 2018 as a draw. Canelo started off well in the first half of the fight, but then he got tired, as he always does in the second half, and GGG took over the fight.
Team Canelo will decide on rehydration clause
“That’s down to what the teams decide,” said Smith on Canelo’s team potentially asking for a rehydration clause for the Saunders fight. “They have to have their fighter’s best interests at heart. With all the money on the table for these huge fights, they need to make their decisions carefully and cleverly,” said Smith when asked about whether Canelo will have a weight class in the contract for the Saunders fight.
“For me to finish off with is the health of everyone at the moment. Money aside, families are being affected by what’s happening and this pandemic is happening globally, and everybody should stay safe and healthy as they can,” said Smith.
It’s up to Canelo and his team if they want to stick a rehydration clause in the contract with Billy Joe or not. With the money he’s going to get for the fight, the inconvenience will be worth it.
For Saunders to get the win, he’s going to need to dominate Canelo for the ENTIRE 12 rounds. He can’t just dominate him for 7 or 8 rounds and expect to get the win. Canelo is the ‘Face of Boxing,’ and you’re not likely to beat him if the fight is remotely close.