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Saunders HELPLESS, Canelo fight at risk due to coronavirus

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

By Barry Holbrook: Hard at work in Las Vegas, Billy Joe Saunders is training like a dog for his fight against Canelo Alvarez that may never come about unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic getting in the way. Saunders, 30, came to the U.S for the announcement of his fight with Canelo for May 2.


Sadly, the situation is starting to look bleak for Saunders, who has been pining away for the Canelo fight for the last 5 years. He’s training for a fight against the Mexican superstar Canelo that could wind up in oblivion, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Canelo isn’t going to be able to devote massive amounts of time on the Saunders fight. It’s just not big enough fight for Alvarez to invest the better part of the year in getting the fight over with. If the fight gets canceled this time around, Saunders could still potentially face next year or in 2022.

Canelo vs. Saunders STILL hasn’t been announced

Golden Boy Promotions hasn’t even bothered announcing the Canelo-Saunders fight, which is rumored to be tentatively taking place in June. This week, it was revealed by ESPN that an agreement was in place for Canelo to meet IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) in a trilogy match on September 12 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

If Saunders doesn’t view this news as a potential threat to him getting the Canelo fight in June or July, then he’s being extremely naive. Canelo and Golden Boy scheduling the GGG fight for September ahead of the Saunders fight isn’t a sign of arrogance on their part.

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Is GGG the plan B for Canelo?

Team Canelo isn’t looking passed Saunders. What they’re doing is setting up a plan-B in case the fight against Saunders is canceled due to the coronavirus. Golovkin is the fight that DAZN and the boxing world wants to see, and it’s a fight far enough away that it has a better chance of not being postponed.

It’s a good deal for Golden Boy and Canelo to schedule the Golovkin trilogy fight. Moreover, it helps Canelo because he now has a backup in place in case the coronavirus pandemic leads to his Saunders fight being postponed.

It would be a disappointment if the Canelo-Saunders fight is postponed, but at least Golden Boy will have a plan-B in Golovkin to offer fans. It’s believed that Canelo can’t afford to reschedule the Saunders fight for July or August without jeopardizing the Golovkin match on September 12. Canelo won’t have enough time to recover from the Saunders fight for him to be able to face GGG in September.

Hearn says GGG will have to wait, not Saunders

Saunders’promoter Eddie Hearn said this week that he already has a deal for Billy Joe to fight Canelo and that Golovkin would have to wait to face Canelo at a later date than September. In other words, Saunders would be given priority over Golovkin. That might be wishful thinking on Hearn’s part. Golovkin is the guy that DAZN wants, and it’s the one U.S fans want as well.

So if Canelo vs. Saunders is unable to happen in June, we’re likely to see the Mexican star move on and face GGG in September. Maybe Saunders can get a fight against Canelo in December or in 2021. It’s doubtful that Canelo will fight Saunders in December though because that’s when he’s expected to face WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Ryota Murata in Japan.

The Canelo vs. Saunders fight was intended to be announced by Golden Boy and Matchroom Boxing last week for May 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada, but they wisely held off due to the coronavirus. Any fight announced right now has the potential of being postponed.

“It’s not going to be a Golden Boy decision, and it’s not going to be a Matchroom decision. It’s going to be, ‘We are canceling events. Tough,'” said Saunders’ promoter Eddie Hearn to Behind the Gloves.

Saunders optimistic about Canelo fight

“The show must continue at some point if it is May, or whenever God allows us to continue,” said Saunders on his Twitter. “I will be ready. Stay blessed.”

Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) won the vacant WBO super middleweight title last year on May 18 in beating Shefat Isufi (29-4-2, 21 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. It was a good performance by the 30-year-old Saunders, apart from being staggered in the 4th round by the German fighter. In Saunders’ only defense of his WBO 168-lb belt, he defeated Marcelo Esteban Coceres by a come from behind 10th round knockout last November in Los Angeles, California.

The good news for Saunders and his boxing fans is he’s in the U.S already, preparing for the June fight against Canelo. That helps some. But if the government doesn’t permit large crowds by June, then the fight will need to be postponed or canceled. Golden Boy and Hearn haven’t said anything about wanting to stage the Canelo-Saunders fight behind closed doors in a TV studio.

In theory, they could salvage the fight if large crowds aren’t allowed still by that point. But it’s not a good sign that Golden Boy and Hearn aren’t saying anything abut moving the Canelo vs Billy Joe fight behind closed doors. You would think by now that they would already be discussing a plan-B option in case the coronavirus puts a roadblock in the path of the Canelo vs. Saunders fight.

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez Gennady Golovkin

Canelo and DAZN could go directly to Golovkin in September

Things are murky right now about what’s to happen in 2020 with the COVID 19 pandemic. As such, it would be risky to stage Canelo-Saunders in June given the atmosphere, and the danger from the lethal virus.

There’s already an agreement in place for Canelo to fight Golovkin in September, and that makes things simple. Instead of Canelo bothering to reschedule the Saunders fight for July or August, it would be logical for him to go straight into the September clash against Golovkin.

There’s a great deal of interest from boxing fans in the third fight between them. Fans want to see Canelo and Golovkin do it again, and they’re not going to be happy if Saunders spoils the party.

The promoters are hoping that things return to normal by June or July, as far as the COVID 19 pandemic, and they can get on with business. There’s no way of knowing, unfortunately, and any fights scheduled for June would have to be seen as one that could potentially get postponed. Golovkin is in a better position than Saunders due to his fight against Canelo being scheduled for September.


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