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Eddie Hearn on Canelo vs. Saunders: It’s one of the biggest fights in Boxing

Image: Eddie Hearn on Canelo vs. Saunders: It's one of the biggest fights in Boxing

By Sean Jones: Promoter Eddie Hearn calls Canelo Alvarez’s next fight against Billy Joe Saunders a “one of the biggest in boxing” following the Mexican star’s horrendous mismatch against Avni Yildirim last Saturday night in Miami, Florida.

It was a stay-busy fight for Canelo, one that he insists that he had to take for him to hold onto his WBC 168-lb title, but the closer truth is he wanted this easy match. The mandatory against Yildirim saved Canelo from having to take on someone that could potentially beat him.

Canelo may regret choosing Saunders

It could be a massive mistake on Canelo’s part for choosing to unify the 168-b division because he’s likely to be waiting for a long, long time for the Saunders match.

With Saunder’s history of repeated injuries, there’s a real chance that we could see his fight with Canelo postponed once or twice before it eventually happens. Canelo’s goal of fighting four times in 2021 may be ruined if Saunders fails to make it through training camp in one piece.

If not for this, Canelo would have had massive pressure to face the dangerous contender David Benavidez or WBC 160-lb champion Jermall Charlo. Those are fighters that Canelo has shown no desire to fight, which makes sense. Losing is no fun.

Those are the two fighters that the boxing public has been asking Canelo to fight, but he’s arguably using the excuse of unifying the 168-lb division in 2021 to avoid them.

Hearn got many fans excited about WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Alvarez’s title defense against Yildirim (21-3, 12 KO), promising that it would be an action-packed one from start to finish. Instead, it looked like Yildirim was half-stunned even before walking into the ring.

Hearn fine with how Yildirim fought

“You want to say when you’re getting that kind of money and when you’re getting that kind of opportunity, you go out on your shield, but you can never criticize a trainer pulling his fighter out when he’s about to get knocked out and hurt,” said Hearn to iFL TV about Yildirim being pulled out of the fight by trainer Joel Diaz.

Image: Eddie Hearn on Canelo vs. Saunders: It's one of the biggest fights in Boxing

“I didn’t mind the way Yildirim was fighting. He just was never good enough. The body shots were brutal, to be honest with you,” Hearn said about Canelo’s bodywork against the punching bag-esque Yildirim

Hearn may not have a problem with how Yildirim fought against Alvarez, but many boxing fans did. The way Yildirim froze under the lights was far worse than how the shot Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. performed against Canelo Alvarez in their fight in May 2017 on HBO pay-per-view.

That was a fight that Golden Boy Promotions had built-up to be a war between Canelo and Chavez. Instead, Chavez Jr failed to let his hands go and spent the entire fight on the ropes, taking shots.

When you realize that Hearn promotes Billy Joe Saunders, it makes sense for him not to have had a problem with how Yildirim fought last Saturday night against Canelo.

The worst thing that could have happened to Hearn was if Yildirim had landed a lucky punch and scored a knockout over Canelo.

If that had happened, Hearn’s in-house fight between Canelo, with who he has a two-fight contract, would need to face Yildirim in a rematch. Hearn doesn’t promote Yildirim.

Saunders is the toughest fight for Canelo

“I do honestly think, and obviously the massive news of Billy Joe Saunders fight getting made, this is the toughest fight out there for Canelo,” Hearn said in starting his early marketing of the Canelo vs. Saunders fight without fully discussing Alvarez’s mismatch against Yildirim.

I hate to disagree with Hearn, but Saunders ISNT the toughest fight out there for Canelo. Indeed, Saunders is one of the easiest fights out there for Canelo because he can’t punch, and he’s looked dreadfully bad since moving up to 168.

The toughest fights out there for Canelo:

  • David Benavidez
  • Jermall Charlo
  • Gennadiy Golovkin
  • Dimitry Bivol
  • Edgar Berlanga
  • Artur Beterbiev
  • Demetrius Andrade
  • Bektemir Melikuziev
  • Jean Pascal

“He’ll [Saunders] will be moving everywhere, but he’s [Canelo], strong, strong, strong,” said Hearn. “I’m very excited. I got in the ring afterward and went straight up to him [Canelo], and I said, ‘Are your hands OK?’ ‘Yeah.’ The first thing he said, ‘May, Billy Joe, let’s go’ to me, and I thought, ‘You’re a beast, you are, mate.’

“The truth is, Billy has got the style to cause Canelo Alvarez problems,” said Hearn. “You’re talking about two fights that happened a long time ago,” said Hearn when reminded that Canelo had a world of problems in his fights against Erislandy Lara and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Saunders’s fighting style is perfect for Canelo, who will take advantage of his lack of power to beat him up. Watching Saunders struggle against no-name opposition like Marcelo Esteban Coceres, Shefat Isufi, and Artur Akavov clarifies this will be another gimme for Canelo.

It’s no wonder why Canelo is so eager to fight Saunders because he knows it’s a fight he wins. When Canelo isn’t enthusiastic about fighting guys, then you see him putting them on ignore.

“Canelo has been unbeaten for the last six years. He’s a much better fighter than he was boxed Lara and when he boxed Floyd Mayweather [in 2013 and 2014],” said Hearn.

Eddie is leaving out that Canelo has had four controversial fights in the last six years that he arguably was beaten but was given very, very questionable scoring by the judges.

Canelo’s fights against these fighters should have resulted in losses in the last six years:

  • Austin Trout
  • Erislandy Lara
  • Gennady Golovkin x 2
  • Miguel Cotto

Canelo’s positive test for clenbuterol a few years ago, as well as the careful match-making that he’s done in avoiding the trilogy match with GGG, you can’t say he’s improved.

Also, Canelo waited until Golovkin was 36 before he fought him. Golovkin had wanted to fight him for four years before this, but he was forced to wait. At one point, Canelo even vacated his WBC 160-lb title to avoid Golovkin when he was his mandatory.

“But if there’s going to be someone that is going to cause him problems, it’s going to be someone with fantastic movement,” said Hearn about Saunders being someone that can cause Canelo issues.

“That’s how you cause fighters problems, but he has fantastic movement a well. But his upper body movement is unbelievable, and he’s a superstar,” said Hearn.

Well, Hearn is partially right about how fighters with movement can give Canelo problems. Yeah, they can give Canelo problems, but those fighters have failed to win against him on the scorecards.

The only guy who was given a victory over Canelo was Floyd Mayweather Jr. In Canelo’s other fights against fighters who gave him issues; he avoided losses with controversial scoring.

You can argue that Canelo should have an additional five losses on his resume in the last six years, suggesting that he hasn’t improved enough. What has improved is how Canelo selects his opponents.

He’s doing a better job of cherry-picking than he did years earlier when he fought Trout, Mayweather, Golovkin, Cotto, and Lara. We no longer see Canelo take risky fights since his rematch with GGG in 2018.

Cowboys Stadium & Allegiant Stadium options for Canelo-Saunders

“Look at the numbers on DAZN tonight; they were huge for him,” Hearn said of Canelo’s mismatch against Yildirim.

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“I can’t wait for this fight [with Saunders] because Canelo-Smith was great, but we didn’t have a lot of time with that and were further back in the pandemic.

“As we come out of the pandemic, Cinco de Mayo weekend with Billy Joe is going to be absolutely massive.

“People are going to talk it up; people are going to believe he’s [Saunders] got a chance. Billy believes he’s got a chance. That’s going to be a mega-fight on May the 8th.

“We got two options [for the Canelo vs. Saunders fight], and they’re the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and we’re talking about both of those guys, and we’ll make a decision next week,” Hearn said.

If you’re Saunders, you probably won’t be excited at fighting Canelo in Las Vegas. But if it’s just about money for Saunders, Las Vegas would be great.

As far as people giving Saunders a chance in this fight, only a tiny fraction of the boxing world will pick him to beat Canelo.

The rest of the fans that know the sport will see this as another mismatch for Canelo and another example of careful match-making. For all intents and purposes, Saunders has no chance of winning apart from an injury by Canelo.

Saunders sees a way to beat Canelo

“You’ve got to give Canelo a lot of respect for the schedule that he’s putting together,” said Hearn on Alvarez, wanting to fight four times in 2021.

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“He’s a superstar, but now he moves on to one of the toughest fights of his career against Billy Joe Saunders.

“What I say about Billy, love or hate him; he’s got a good heart. This is it for him now. I’m so pleased to deliver this for Billy because I delivered it [Canelo] for him last year, but then the pandemic hit, and it got canceled.

“For everything he’s done right and everything he’s done wrong, it’s irrelevant now. He’s got the opportunity of a lifetime. He’s told everybody he’ll beat Canelo Alvarez. The platforms yours, go and do it.

“He doesn’t get up for fights; he knows he’s going to win,” said Hearn about Saunders. “He knows how good Canelo is.

“Billy is a student of the game. He’s got a very, very smart boxing brain, and he knows how good Canelo Alvarez is, but he sees a way that he believes he can beat him.

He’ll go into that fight 100% believing he can win that fight. I can’t wait; it’s going to be a massive fight,” said Hearn.

Whatever way Saunders has of beating Canelo, he doesn’t have the physical skills to get the job done. Billy Joe isn’t fast or powerful enough to get the job done.

Additionally, Saunders has aged in the last seven years, and he’s not the same guy that beat Chris Eubank Jr in 2014.

That was easily the biggest win of Saunders’ career, and he barely won. Eubank Jr gave the fight away by doing a lot of posing in the first six rounds.

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