Canelo vs. Saunders possible for Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
By Charles Brun: Canelo Alvarez’s fight against Billy Joe Saunders could occur at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas next May, depending on if fans are allowed back in that time. The stadium seats 65,000 fans, which makes it ideal for a large fight.
WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) isn’t a big name in the U.S, and it might be a mistake on the part of Canelo’s management to book the large Allegiant Stadium for a lesser fight.
For a stadium that size, it only makes sense for Canelo to book it if he’s facing a big name like Gennadiy Golovkin or Jermall Charlo.
Unfortunately, Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) has no interest in fighting either of those guys. Canelo is on a mission to become the undisputed champion at super-middleweight, which means he’s got to beat the non-popular WBO belt-holder Saunders and IBF champion Caleb Plant to achieve his goal.
Other potential locations for Canelo – Saunders
The other options for the location of the Canelo – Billy Joe fight is in Florida and Texas, according to ESPN Deportes.
Florida and Texas are locations that are allowing large crowds for sporting events. But Canelo vs. Saunders could have the same problems as they would if they staged the fight at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
On paper, it’s not a big fight that would warrant a large venue. Saunders has only fought in the U.S once during his career, and that was his poor showing against little known Marcelo Esteban Coceres in November 2019 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Saunders was losing the fight to the Argentinan Cocere s going into the eleventh round, but he was able to rally and score a miracle stoppage. The performance by Saunders failed to win him any fans in the U.S and made no headlines.
It might be wiser for Canelo to book a smaller venue for the Saunders fight in Las Vegas, Florid, or Texas. Unless Alvarez wants a large stadium so that they can space out the crowd with social distancing, it doesn’t make sense to place the Saunders fight in a large venue.
Canelo, 30, would like the fight with Saunders to take place on Cinco de Mayo on May 8th.
It helps Canelo that he schedules the match against the British fighter Billy Joe on May 8th, as it means he’ll get a lot of fans tuning in to watch due to the holiday.
It’s less important for Canelo to face a well-known fighter when he fights on that date, but obviously, it would help him.
Yildirim could ruin Canelo’s plans
The real tricky part for Canelo to fight in May is that he needs to win his title defense against his WBC mandatory Avni Yildirim on February 27th and get through the fight without injury.
Thus far, Yildirim, 29, hasn’t received as much attention as Canelo’ last opponent Callum Smith, who Team Alvarez claimed was the #1 fighter at 168 before the fight.
But Yildirim is much more aggressive than Smith, and he’s a better puncher as well. With Yildirim, you’re not going to see him fighting with his back against the ropes for 12 rounds like we witnessed with the hapless Callum last December in his lopsided 12 round decision loss to Canelo.
If Canelo is going to beat Yildirim, he’s going to have to earn the victory the old fashioned way by going to war with the powerful Turkish fighter and try and bang him out.
Canelo can’t count on getting a cheap win against a fighter that is giving the match away by resting against the ropes the way Smith did. That’s why it’s going to be a lot harder for Canelo to not only win but get through the fight without getting cut up.
Alvarez looked good in his last contest, defeating the previously unbeaten WBA 168lb champion Callum on December 19th.
The victory enabled Canelo to in the WBA and WBC titles in the weight class, and it was a big first step for him to become the undisputed champion.
Saunders unbeaten but still untested
Billy Joe has maneuvered his way to an unbeaten 30-0 record largely due to careful match-making. He’s about to get a big payday against Canelo that he’s done little to deserve.
Saunder’s recent successful title defense against 38-year-old fringe contender Martin Murray is indicative of the kind of opposition he’s been facing during his 12-year professional career.
The 31-year-old Saunders has put together an unbeaten record, but it’s been all smoke & mirrors with him.
Saunders has been matched with care by his promoters, keeping him out of harm’s way and putting him in situations where he will always win. It’s worked, though, as Saunders is unbeaten and poised to pick up the biggest payday of his career in four months from now.
Saunders’ toughest test to date was six years ago against Andy Lee in 2015. In Saunders’ fights since then, he’s beaten these easy marks:
- Artur Akavov
- David Lemieux
- Charles Adamu
- Martin Murray
- Willie Monroe Jr
- Shefat Isufi
- Marelo Estaban Coceres
These are the fighters that Saunders has been facing since 2016, and it’s easy to see why he’s still unbeaten. Those are guys that middle of the road contenders should be fighting, not world champions.
Canelo wants the Saunders fight, though, which won’t do much for him other than allow him to relieve him of his WBO 168lb strap.
Is Canelo intentionally taking the easy path?
With the big money Canelo is making for his fights, he’s essentially stopped taking risky fights since his close win over Gennadiy Golovkin in their rematch in 2018.
Every fight since then for Canelo has been a gimme, and it appears that he’s been milking his contract with DAZN taking on the opposition that he could beat without the potential of losing or taking punishment.
There’s a heck of a lot more risk for Canelo to face opposition that the U.S boxing fans prefer to see him fight. Fans want to see Canelo fight these fighters:
- David Benavidez
- Gennadiy Golovkin
- Jermall Charlo
- Demetrius Andrade
- Edgar Berlanga
Instead of facing them, Canelo is fighting these guys:
- Avni Yildirim
- Billy Joe Saunders
- Caleb Plant
DAZN must have mixed feelings on Canelo’s decision to try and unify the 168lb division. This means that instead of Canelo facing guys that will bring in a lot of subscribers to DAZN, he’ll be fighting lesser-known fighters, who aren’t going to attract as much interest.
In Plant’s case, Canelo will be fighting a guy that fights on FOX so that the audience will be Plant for DZAN. That’s not a good thing for them, but unfortunately that they’ll have to deal with it. Some of the better fighters at 160 and 168 fight on FOX, Showtime, and ESPN.
Alvarez would have been done with Saunders in 2020 if not for the pandemic getting in the way of their fight. Although he offered the fight to Saunders last December, it didn’t happen.
Saunders wanted 10 weeks of training to take off the weight that he’d put on during the pandemic rather than the eight weeks that he was offered.
Some boxing fans feel that Saunders didn’t have the confidence to take the fight with Canelo, so he made a big deal about there not being enough time for him to train.
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