Canelo Alvarez says Billy Joe Saunders will be “easy work”

By Boxing News - 03/02/2021 - Comments

By Sean Jones: Canelo Alvarez has already told promoter Eddie Hearn that his next opponent WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, will be “easy work” just like the last two over-matched opponents Avni Yildirim and Callum Smith both were for him.

WBA/WBC 168-lb champion Canelo’s fight last Saturday night against his WBC mandatory Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) ended up as an embarrassingly bad three-round blowout victory.

It was bad because Yildirim barely threw any punches in the fight and looked like a guy that didn’t belong inside the ring with the Mexican star.

After the fight, Canelo claimed that he had to face Yildirim because he was his WBC mandatory, and he would have lost his title. However, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told DAZN that Canelo didn’t need to defend against Yildirim because he’s the Franchise champion, which has no set division.

With Canelo’ Franchise designation, he’s the equivalent of a King in a game of chess in which he can move up or down. It was Canelo that decided that he wanted to defend against Yildirim, NOT the WBC.

Did DAZN know that Canelo wasn’t required to face Yildirim?

Alvarez could have bypassed Yildirim and taken on a better opponent, which I’m sure DAZN would have appreciated. It’s unclear whether DAZN was aware that Canelo wasn’t required to defend against Yildirim or not.

If they mistakenly believed that Canelo had to defend against Yildirim or else he would have been stripped of his WBC title, then they were fooled.

According to WBC president Sulaiman, Canelo didn’t have to defend against Yildirim. This is what he wanted, which is disappointing because it was painfully obvious even before the fight last Saturday that it would be a terrible mismatch.

Canelo views Saunders as “easy work”

“I said to him, ‘BJS is a tough fight.’ He [Canelo] said, ‘Yeah, for three rounds,'” said Hearn to the AK & Barak Show on DAZN in talking about a conversation he had with Canelo about his May 8th clash against Saunders.

Image: Canelo Alvarez says Billy Joe Saunders will be "easy work"

“I said, ‘It won’t be easy work like Yildirim,’ and he said, ‘Yildirim was easy work. [Callum] Smith was easy work. Saunders is easy work.‘”

If Canelo views Billy Joe Saunders as “easy work,” as he suggests, why is he fighting him? That’s a question you have to ask Canelo because he didn’t have “easy work” when he fought Gennadiy Golovkin twice.

If Canelo wanted to have difficult work, he should be fighting better opposition than the guys he’s been facing.

The fact that Canelo is already predicting that Saunders will be easy work means that he’s scouted him out and deemed him as a safe opponent.

Yildirim was overwelmed

“He was overwhelmed by a great champion in the ring, Canelo, and Yildirim had no chance of winning the fight,” said WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to the AK & Barak Show on DAZN. “He was the mandatory.

Image: Canelo Alvarez says Billy Joe Saunders will be "easy work"

“I’m sorry it didn’t turn out to be a great fight as we all expected. I take full responsibility for Avni’s mandatory status. We have to move on and give the fans what they deserve to see.

“It’s been two years [that Yildirim has been mandatory]. What happened in the ring? I prefer to say that it was an outstanding performance by Canelo.

“We went by the rules to address the mandatory situation and have to have.

“There’s a situation where someone has earned a right, and you have to respect that. We have to work so that things like this do not happen,” Sulaiman said in defending the WBC’s choice of making Yildirim the mandatory.

The part where Suliaman says Yildirim “earned a right” to fight for the WBC 168-lb title, that’s difficult to understand.

Yildirim had never beaten anyone remotely good enough for him to deserve to be the WBC mandatory at 168, so it’s unclear why the World Boxing Council gave him this position.

Yildirim’s wins have come against mediocre opposition throughout his seven-year professional career.

These are Yildirim’s last six wins:

  • Lolenga Mock (42-14)
  • Jose Antonio Rodriguez Silvencia (3-31-3)
  • Ryan Ford (14-2)
  • Derek Edwards (27-7-1)
  • Attila Korda (13-6)
  • Marco Antonio Periban (25-3-1)

Alvarez chose not to use his Franchise designation

“Canelo opted that he did not want to use the Franchise designation,” Sulaiman said. “He wanted to win the 168-lb title, and he wanted to do the mandatory.

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“It’s a mix of things, and I am convinced that Canelo went full steam looking for the knockout, and people were very happy.

“It was a very entertaining knockout, and the public in the stadium liked it.

“If we concentrated on the good, it would be much better for the sport, and I take full blame for the mandatory situation. We’re addressing everything we can do to make the sport better.

“Yildirim, I cannot question why he didn’t come out of his corner because only a fighter knows what’s happening. An accident in the ring, we don’t want to see.

“I don’t like when fighters do not come out of the stool because it leaves many open questions that can’t be answered. And I don’t know why it went that way. I expected a war, but he just could not.

“Every time he tried to throw punches, he was hit back two or three times. We were forced to enforce the mandatory, and I had great expectations,” Sulaiman said.

There’s some speculation among the boxing public that Canelo purposefully chose not to use his Franchise tag to bypass his mandatory requirements with the WBC because he knew Yildirim was a poor opponent who he could easily beat.

Given Yildirim’s previous defeat at the hands of Anthony Dirrell and his third-round knockout loss to Chris Eubank Jr, it’s hard to see any other explanation for why Canelo wanted to fight him so urgently than the fact that he was an easy mark.

Of course, this would feed into the belief that many fans have about Canelo being an opportunist, a fighter that carefully selects his opponents to ensure he can win.

Canelo’s Franchise tag has no divisions

“He [Yildirim] fought [Anthony] Dirrell and some other fighters, and he seemed to be more mature than when he fought [Chris] Eubank [in 2017], but that was not the case,” said Sulaiman.

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“The Franchise has no divisions. It allows you to move up and down in weight categories. A Franchise would have avoided what happened last Saturday with the mandatory designation.

“I think the Franchise designation is a good one. If it doesn’t work in the end, we will not continue it.

“We’re doing it to see where it leads. This is an example where it was not used, but tomorrow if he wants to use it after he unifies, that’s good because he doesn’t have to have mandatory’s enforced that are not at the level,” said Sulaiman.

Many boxing fans mistakenly were under the mistaken belief that the sole reason Canelo fought Yildirim is that he had no choice due to him being his mandatory.

In fact, Canelo himself fed into that belief by telling the fans after the fight that he had no choice but to defend against Yildirim because if he hadn’t, he would have been stripped of his WBC title.

But according to Sulaiman, Canelo didn’t have to because he’s the Franchise champion, which has no divisions. Why then did Canelo tell the fans that he had to fight Yildirim? It would be interesting to know why Canelo didn’t admit that he didn’t have to face Yildirim.

Canelo would have done a world of good if he’d used his Franchise tag to bypass the Yildirim fight because the match was so one-sided that it left a stain on last Saturday’s event at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.