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Billy Joe Saunders sick with flu, will he recover by May 8th?

Canelo vs. Saunders boxing photo

By Barry Holbrook: Billy Joe Saunders says he’s sick with the flu, and he’s not been able to train for the past 10 days to start training camp for his May 8th unification fight against Canelo Alvarez.

The WBO super middleweight champion Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) reveals that he needs to trim off approximately 28 pounds during camp, and that’s one of his concerns while battling the flu.

It’s unclear whether Saunders, 31, has the dreaded COVID 19 flu or if it’s just a regular one that he quickly recovers from? Whether it’s COVID 19 or not, it’s a major negative for Saunders to be ill and missing valuable training time for the biggest fight of his life against Canelo.

What makes things more difficult for Saunders is all the weight that he needs to take off for him to have a chance to retain his WBO title against WBA/WBC 168lb champion Canelo.

If Saunders fails to make weight, his WBO title will still be up for grabs, but he won’t be able to keep it, and he won’t be able to win Canelo’s WBA and WBO straps.

Given how much of an underdog Saunders is, it may not matter if he fails to make weight. He’ll likely lose anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Saunders ill with the flu

“Billy Joe Saunders told me on my podcast that he’s yet to start training camp for his May 8th showdown with Canelo Alvarez,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN.

Canelo vs. Saunders boxing photo

“We got no heat, and I got the flu,” said Saunders to DAZN. “10 days off of training. At the minute, I’m trying to get wait off.

“We haven’t got time to get a game plan yet. We’re still a bit away. I still got about two stones to take off.

“Once that comes off, the 24 lbs, then we can come up with a game plan. At the minute, I’m just trying to concentrate on getting a bit of weight off. I’m doing the best I can,” said Saunders.

This is too big of a fight for Saunders to ask for a postponement from, I imagine.

Would Canelo be willing to wait around for Saunders to recover from his flu, or would he move on to face IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant?

Many boxing fans already predict that Saunders will suffer an injury during camp that will require the fight to be postponed.

However, no one expected that Billy Joe would come down with an ailment in the next 10 days that could wreck his dream of facing Canelo.

If Saunders does have COVID 19, there’s no telling when he’ll be healthy enough for him to return to training camp. It could take many months before he’s healthy enough to start training camp with an illness like that.

It depends on how his body reacts to the virus, which has caused over 500,000 deaths in the U.S alone since it started.

Is 10 weeks enough time for Billy Joe?

“Is it a problem that Saunders is sick in March and hasn’t opened camp?” said Mannix.

Canelo vs. Saunders boxing photo

“No, because we’re 10 weeks away, and he’s going to have an eight-week strong camp,” said Sergio Mora. “He’s going to have one week of duties once he gets to fight week in Las Vegas.

“It’s not brutal; you’re not training hard anymore. You’re just maintaining your weight and doing your cardio.

“Eight weeks of brutal camp of sparring and beating up your body of running and sprinting, that is going to be needed.

“Billy Joe Saunders is a two-time champion and an Olympian. He knows what his body needs, and he knows when to taper down and when to pick it up.

“Eight weeks, nine weeks is going to be perfect for him. He has 10.”

It will be interesting to see if Canelo will bother to wait for Saunders if the fight needs to be postponed.

He seems to be in a big hurry for some reason to win all of the belts at 168 as if it’s a trophy that he needs to validate himself to a segment of the world population.

If Saunders does need more time to recover, perhaps Canelo might want to take an interim fight against someone like Edgar Berlanga, Jermall Charlo, or Demetrius Andrade.

Those would be fights that Americans would much rather watch than seeing Canelo fight, Saunders.

That’s not knock on Saunders. He’s a good fighter, but he’s just not held in as high esteem by U.S fans as Charlo, Berlanga, and Andrade.

Will Saunders’ sickness linger?

“I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world necessarily, especially when you consider that Billy Joe just fought in December [against Martin Murray], and he just had a full training camp for that against Martin Murray,” said Mannix.

“I do wonder, though, just how long this sickness is going to linger. When he does get into an official training camp, is he going to be able to hit the ground running?

“Is he going to be at full strength when that camp starts? He has to be sharp and as prepared as he’s ever been his entire life. And he is facing the best fighter in the world.

“He needs to have a great game plan, he needs to be on his game, he needs to be on his skills, and he needs to be in great shape.

“So I guess for right now, it’s not a huge deal, but when we get to that eight-week mark, is he getting in a full training camp like he usually does, or is there any lingering effects from this illness that keep him from going at it strong right away?”

“No, it’s better that he gets sick before his camp because if he gets sick during camp once he’s cutting weight, the body gets weaker, you’re not hydrating like you’re supposed to, you diminishing and your cutting weight,” said Mora.

“Usually, that’s when you start falling ill, but if he got sick before and he can start to reset the body and start full strength.

“Believe me; it’s actually a good thing that he got sick before he started camp. It’s during camp where we should all be worried.”

Mora obviously believes that Saunders will recover quickly from the flu, but that may not happen. It would be a good idea for Canelo to start planning a backup fight if Saunders needs 3 to 6 months to recover from his illness.

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