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Adam Smith reacts to Billy Joe Saunders deciding not to face Canelo

Billy Joe Saunders Canelo Alvarez

By Charles Brun: Adam Smith of Sky Sports understands why Billy Joe Saunders chose to remove his name as a potential opponent for Canelo Alvarez. Saunders is a victim of the pandemic, which has made it impossible for boxing to take place in front of fans in arenas and stadiums.

Canelo’s promoter at Golden Boy Promotions needed the gate money to pay the kind of money that Billy Joe (29-0, 14 K.O.s) wanted. Without the gate money, Saunders was offered a smaller purse, and he wasn’t keen on taking that.

Also, during the lockdown, he’s put on weight, and he felt that he needed a more extended training camp than the ten weeks he was given. Canelo intends on fighting on September 12 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and that means Saunders would need to take the weight off in a hurry.

Billy Joe said he would have been too busy in the last four weeks with press conferences; it would hurt his ability to train.

Saunders wasn’t 100% ready to face Canelo

“You’ve got to remember the America situation too,” said Adam Smith to IFL TV on Saunders missing out on the Canelo fight. “It’s very difficult. With elite there’s traveling over there’s still the worry of COVID. I’m not going to sit here and say that Billy Joe should have taken that fight in September.

“It would have happened in May, and Billy Joe really fancied that fight. He would have started as an underdog, but he would have given Canelo a lot to think about. I really do.

“I’ve always liked Billy Joe stylistically in those sorts of fights. He wasn’t great in November [against Marcelo Cocere] out in L.A., and it wasn’t a great performance from him. Maybe that would have earned him the Canelo fight or nearly did.

“I think he would have given absolutely everything. He obviously feels mentally, and physically it wasn’t the right time for him. It’s difficult. Everyone has dealt with the lockdown in different ways.

“I haven’t seen Billy Joe, so I don’t know how he is. But I think he’s not 100% for the fight, and they couldn’t get the financials over the line,” said Smith on Saunders.

The fans aren’t too sympathetic to Saunders’s bellyaching about not having enough time to train for the Saunders fight. They feel that with a fight of this magnitude being offered to Billy Joe, he should be willing to get in shape. How can you turn clash against Canelo?

What people don’t realize is how out of shape Saunders is right now. He’s really let himself go physically, and he would have a lot of problems trying to trim down the tonnage. As a professional athlete, Saunders should stay in shape year-round, but that’s not the case.

The gate problems hurt Billy Joe

“It goes back to the gate issues,” said Adam on why Golden Boy couldn’t offer Billy Joe the money he wanted for Canelo. “Maybe that was a part of it too. If it’s in a big gate in Vegas, then maybe there’s more money on the table and more enticement for the fighters.

“I don’t know. But then you can look at it and say maybe the fighters should be taking fights because you don’t know when the next big payday will come. So it’s a difficult one. Individually, the fighters I’ve heard from over the lockdown period seem to have kept themselves in pretty emasculate physical shape.

“They seem to be pretty mentally strong as well, and those are the ones that are going to get quickly out of the blocks. And they’re the ones that are going to earn some money.

“It may not be what they got before. This is at all levels that we’re talking about. It’s going to be hard for the elites as well. Everybody is going to have to come to terms with the new way it’s going to work.

“For now, it’s behind closed doors, so it’s an amazing opportunity for fighters to get back out and be seen. The broadcasters will get big numbers. Everybody wants boxing back,” Adam said.

With the kind of money that Saunders wants, it wasn’t possible for Golden Boy to afford him once the pandemic hit. Saunders is probably hoping that when the pandemic ends in one to three years, then he can get big money to face Canelo. He shouldn’t hold his breath, waiting for a second chance.

John Ryder has a chance for Alvarez fight

“Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone has got to make the right decision for them and their family,” said Smith. “Yeah, I’m disappointed. I would have liked to have seen Billy Joe fight Canelo, but I’d like to see Callum [Smith], and John Ryder has thrown his hat in there as well.

“Ryder gave Callum a terrific fight [last November] in those 12 rounds. It was brilliant. Some thought Ryder was very unlucky on the cards. Some thought he should have won it.

“So why not have the opportunity [to fight Canelo]. People won’t be expecting him to beat Canelo, and he probably won’t come anywhere close. But John Ryder deserves his opportunity just like they all do, and if he’s prepared to take less money or slightly less time getting ready or whatever it is, then that’s when opportunity knocks.

“That’s when the upsets can happen. He’s a southpaw; he’s different. I don’t know. It’s an interesting opportunity, but I want Callum Smith to have a chance as well. You want one of the Brits to get a chance too.

“Maybe fights are easy to make, Brits against Brits in Britain and Americans against Americans at the moment. We just wait and see how things will clear in the next few months. No one is sure,” Smith added.

The chances of John Ryder getting a fight against Canelo are about as good as Saunders’. Ryder brings nothing to the table, and for that reason, he probably isn’t being considered.

It’s crucial for DAZN that Canelo chooses a quality fighter that boxing fans in the U.S. have heard about and respect. It won’t help them if Canelo chooses Rocky Fielding 2.0.

Traveling for fights is difficult now

“You want Eubank and Billy Joe to fight,” said Smith. “There are a lot of Brits around that weight class. As I said if the Americans are fighting against their fighters on their side of the pond, fighters that can get there more easily.

“Over here [in the U.K.], we should be thinking about the Callum Smith, the Eubanks, those sorts of fights. You’d like to see Eubank against Canelo as well.

Any one of our guys against the pound-for-pound best in the world, no question. But if it’s going to be in Vegas, and we know it’s Canelo’s turf and all that sort of stuff. The situation has to be right, and maybe Billy Joe said, ‘It’s not for me this time,” said Smith.

Fighters like Chris Eubank Jr have volunteered to take the fight with Saunders, but he may not get it either. He’s a wrong style match-up for Canelo due to his high work rate, and the Mexican star likely won’t agree to the match.

Golden Boy isn’t giving any hints about who Canelo will wind up facing on September 12, but it probably won’t be Eubank Jr, Ryder, or Callum Smith. In other words, none of the top British fighters in his weight class.


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