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Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

Image: Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

By Charles Brun: Billy Joe Saunders is looking forward to facing Canelo Alvarez behind closed doors in an environment where the cheering from the crowd won’t influence the judges. Saunders, 30, is going to need every advantage he can get because he’s going to be taking a big step up in class.

Saunders shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch. Canelo might choose to go in another direction once the lockdown ends, and he better options for compelling fights.

In Saunders’ last two fights against Marcelo Coceres and Shefat Isufi, he’s looked unremarkable. Billy Joe will need to raise his game to beat Canelo and hope that it doesn’t go to the cards.

The WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) is concerned with getting a fair decision if the contest against Canelo (53-1-2, 36 KOs) goes the distance. Saunders has seen some of Canelo’s past fight that he felt the scoring was off.

Image: Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

Hearn wants to resurrect Canelo-Saunders

“Billy, not many people know that the fight with Canelo was agreed and that you had flown to America. We were probably 48 hours away from a press conference and an announcement,” said Eddie Hearn on the Matchroom Boxing Hearn & Bellew show.

“It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s our job now to resurrect that fight [against Canelo Alvarez]. Of course, one of the reasons why you joined us is you want to be in the game for the Canelo Alvarez fight.

It’s frustrating that you had it right there, and obviously, you’re still a frontrunner for that fight. It’s still the focus for Billy Joe Saunders,” said Hearn.

The Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn has his work cut out for him trying to revive the negotiations. Saunders’ recent comments on domestic violence may have turned off Canelo and his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions.

Saunders is arguably the easiest option for Canelo among the champions at 168. It appears that Canelo doesn’t want to move down to 160 for his next fight.

Beating the cash cow would be huge for Billy Joe

“Most definitely. I’m in this sport because I want to be the best,” said Saunders. “I’ve been banging on about how I’ve got the tools to beat him [Canelo Alvarez]. He’s exceptionally a great fighter and one of the best, but to get the name to be one of the best, you’ve got to beat those type of people.

“He’s the cash cow, and he’s the big man up there. Everyone in the boxing world knows him, and he’s the man that I would love to beat, you know? If they said, ‘You’re going to beat him, but you’re going to get nothing,’ I would sign.

“There were two guys when I was first starting out, David Lemieux and Canelo Alvarez. I thought, ‘Them boys are the ones I’m going to cross paths with. When they said I was fighting David Lemieux, I was like, ‘F**** hell. I’m here in Canada.’ I need that, Eddie.

“Canelo is that man that can wake that lion up inside of me. Once that’s woken, it’ll take a world-class athlete and someone like him to beat me. I know I’m on my game, I’m fit, and I’ve done everything right, and I can go in there and get the decision. That’s the only thing in my mind, you know?” said Saunders on the Canelo match.

A win for Saunders over Canelo would result in him getting a rematch, which would make him a lot of money. Also, a victory for Saunders would open the door to fights against guys like Gennadiy Golovkin.

Image: Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

Saunders could fight just once in 2020

“There’s a chance that if you land that fight, and there are all these big names, probably you as well, the realization that you will box only once this year,” said Hearn.

“Everybody is saying to themselves if you’re Canelo, AJ, if you’re you, trying to find a way to replace this live audience, you’re probably only going to get one shot this year.

“If it comes behind closed doors against Canelo Alvarez, do you think that gives you an advantage? I would give everything to see you in front of a crowd against Canelo Alvarez. That’s what we want. We talk about fights behind closed doors. The difference between a fight behind closed doors and the Canelo Alvarez fight” said Hearn.

“If he’s 100% clean for every test for that fight and Billy is spot on, I’m telling you now, it’ll be an absolutely fascinating fight,” said Tony Bellew. “He’s far cleverer than Lemieux. I don’t think he hits as hard as Lemieux with one punch,” said Bellew of Canelo.

Saunders won’t be able to outsmart Canelo in the way that he did against David Lemieux. Canelo is a fighter with excellent boxing skills, hand speed, and power, and it’s going to be difficult for Saunders.

Hearn is stating the obvious on Saunders fighting just once in 2020 because he’s probably not going to fight Canelo until September.

It won’t be an easy fight for Saunders, who may suffer cuts and possibly even a concussion if he’s knocked out. With all that, Saunders would be making a mistake if he attempted to squeeze in a second fight by competing in December.

Billy Joe: Canelo is in my world an empty arena

“Eddie, if we fight in front of an empty arena, he’s [Canelo] in my world now,” said Saunders. “He packs stadiums. I feel like I can pack English football grounds. If he throws a shot and misses, the crowd will get behind, and that’ll affect the judges and Everybody watching the fight,” said Saunders.

“If he fights behind closed doors, there’s no bluffing. The crowd can’t sway the decision,” said Tony Bellew on Saunders facing Canelo behind closed doors. “If he fights Mayweather and gets a draw, it’s absolutely insane.

“It’s because the crowd is screaming and cheering. I believe, Billy, that you rise to the occasion, or you won’t perform to the best of your ability. That’s a testament to how good you can be. But with someone like Canelo, that would dampen his atmosphere and how he’s going to perform.

“I’m telling you, mate. It wouldn’t be good for him. The crowd does help him over the years. He’s been in some terrible fights where he didn’t perform and the crowd being so loud and so furious, it dragged him through, and he got the decision. Billy’s on it.

“If you can make him miss early doors and make him pay, he’s in for his worst night. He’s an amazing fighter. I’m not going to take anything away from him. What p**** me off is the fact that he’s cheated, yes. There’s nothing I can do about that,”s said Bellew.

Canelo has never fought in front of an unfriendly audience, so it’s hard to say how he’ll respond fighting in front of an empty arena. Saunders is going to need to figure out a good game plan that can limit the counter-punching opportunities Canelo has. Image: Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

Saunders wants fight scored fairly

“He’s very good with his feints and very good inside and mid-range,” said Saunders on Canelo’s strengths. “On long-range, as we’ve seen with Miguel Cotto, he just kept it real simple, basic punching, and he always kept that distance. Miguel fought a great fight,” said Saunders.

“Canelo is one of the best counter-punchers in the whole world,” said Bellew. “You see that he learned from the Mayweather fight, and he’s taken it and progressed.

“Now he’s the best counter-puncher in the game. But as Billy Joe just said, at long range, he’s lost,” said Bellew on Canelo having limited skills from long distance. “GGG wasn’t able to keep him at long range because his legs aren’t as good as they used to be when he first began his career.

“That’s why he [Canelo] took his time with the rematch,” said Bellew about Canelo taking his time before giving Gennadiy Golovkin the rematches.

“In the first GGG fight, GGG fought him at long range and had a tear-up,” said Saunders.

“In the second fight, GGG let him in closer and started trying to counter with him, and let him go on the attack. That was the big problem there because Canelo will tuck up and go, ‘Okay, throw three or four,’ and once you’re finished, he’ll come back. Once you do the business, you’ve got to go get out of the way, you know?

“If I beat him, give it to me. If I beat him, I want a fair decision. Eddie, can we fight him [Canelo] in your back garden?” asked Saunders.

If the fight takes place without fans in a studio setting, Saunders’ chances of beating Canelo will increase. However, Saunders will need to hear the final bell, and with Canelo’s punching power, that may be difficult.

Hearn doubts Canelo will fight at Matchroom HQ

“I don’t know if he would be up for that,” said Hearn about Canelo fighting Saunders at the Matchroom Boxing HQ. “We’re only allowed a small entourage now, and I’m not sure Canelo Alvarez will like it if we say ‘you’re only allowed three people in your team.’

He’s got about 40 people and that Mavarachi band that comes around and plays,” said Hearn.

“He’s the cash cow, and he’s used to getting his way and everything,” said Saunders in criticizing Canelo. “Now, the world won’t let him get his way because of what’s happened with this pandemic,” said Saunders.

“I know that’s the fight you want, Billy, but if it doesn’t go to plan, there are a few fights out there for you,” said Hearn. “Callum Smith, Eubank Jr., and Demetrius Andrade. What’s your list in terms of who you’d like to fight out of those and who you’d be motivated to fight out of those?”

Not only will Canelo not agree to fight Saunders at the Matchroom headquarters, but he’s also unlikely to agree to fight outside of the United States.

That means that the Canelo-Saunders fight will need to take place behind closed doors, but Canelo is wealthy enough to give up the gate money. Canelo has a net worth of $120 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Image: Saunders: Canelo is in my WORLD inside an empty arena

Saunders targeting Callum Smith as Plan-B option

“I actually feel sorry for Callum Smith with those negotiations with Canelo, because I knew what they were doing all along,” said Saunders. “And I would absolutely love to share the ring with Callum Smith. I think he’s a great fighter. He’s big for the weight; he’s a good boxer, a good puncher. Eubank,

“I beat him. Andrade has a big mouth, and I would be very confident of stopping him because of his style. But I would love to fight Callum Smith, a big unification fight, me and him.

“I’ve got something he wants, and he’s got something I want. It’s great, and he’s a great champion. He carries himself well inside and outside of the ring, and I can only respect him for that,” said Saunders.

“Well, that’s the fight to make if we can’t get the Canelo fight, but for now, it’s all systems go in trying to get it over the line for later in the year,” said Hearn.

Saunders matches up better with Canelo Alvarez than the tall 6’3″ Callum Smith, and he could regret it if that fight happens. There are easier alternative options for Saunders than taking on WBA super middleweight champion Smith (27-0, 19 KOs).

Better options for Saunders would be for him to face Chris Eubank Jr. or Demetrius Andrade, if possible. Billy Joe might have the mistaken belief that he can get the better of Callum because of the problems he had in his last fight against John Ryder last November.

Callum said that the short height of the 5’9″ Ryder is what kind of threw him off in the fight. Against the 5’11” Saunders, Smith won’t have the same problems landing his big power shots.

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