Canelo agrees to fight Saunders in 22-ft ring
By Matt Lieberman: Eddie Hearn has successfully resolved the ring size problems by speaking with Canelo Alvarez to get him to agree to the 22-foot ring that Billy Joe Saunders was asking for.
As a result, the Canelo-Saunders fight is now on and will be taking place on Saturday at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Hearn states that the whole issue about the ring size was a communication problem. He thought that Team Saunders wanted a 20-foot ring, so he initially had Canelo agree to that.
When Hearn found that Saunders wanted a 22-foot ring, he was hesitant to speak with Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs) a second time about it.
But when Saunders balked at participating in the media events this week and was talking about flying home, Hearn had no choice but to speak to Canelo.
Hearn was surprised when Canelo immediately told him, ‘Fine,’ go ahead with the 22-foot ring.
If Canelo had said, ‘No,’ Hearn said he had John Ryder and Carlos Gongora as backups in case Saunder carried out his threat of flying home without fighting Canelo.
Hearn resolves ring size issue for Canelo – Saunders
“Billy Joe, all of his fights with us have been in a 22-foot ring,” said Hearn to Behind The Gloves. “When I got here, I was told that he wanted 20 feet inside the ropes.
“I cleared that with Canelo, and he said, ‘No problems,’ but then he [Saunders] said, ‘I want 22-foot. It was backwards and forwards with it, and I didn’t want to go back to Canelo.
“Eventually, I had no choice. I don’t want to play a game of bluff, but Billy was saying, ‘I’m going home, I’m not fighting.’
“I actually believe him because he’s that crazy. So, he [Saunders] wouldn’t do anything with the media, and he wouldn’t do anything today.
“He probably wouldn’t have done the press conference. So I had to go to Saul and said, ‘We got a problem here, this guy wants,’ and before I could even finish a sentence, he went, ‘No problem.’ I went, ‘Blimey.’
“All that drama and he said, ‘Fine.’ What was negotiated when they first got here was, Team Saunders asked me for a 20-foot ring, and I cleared that with Saul.
“So I didn’t really want to go back to him. He [Canelo] gave an interview yesterday where he said, ‘I don’t care about the ring, honestly.’ I had to go see him and say, ‘He’s [Saunders] saying he’s going home.
“So you can either play a game of bluff and run it to the wire or do you care?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t care at all,’ and that was it,” said Hearn.
Eddie did an excellent job of saving the Canelo vs. Saunders fight by speaking with the Mexican star. Who knows?
Maybe Saunders would have still fought Canelo, but he would have undoubtedly hurt the promotion of the fight by not doing the media.
The uncertainty about whether Saunders would show up for the fight with Canelo on Saturday would have likely hurt DAZN in terms of gaining new subscribers.
Billy Joe has no respect for Canelo
“So now, Billy is going to do his media today, and we’re finally going to get a face-off between those two,” Hearn said. “I have John Ryder and Carlos Gongora here because it’s a massive event.
“They’ve given me their word, Billy Joe and Tom, ‘this is the last thing we’re asking for.
“We don’t want to be difficult.’ Who knows? I do think some of this whole episode is mind games, but Billy is good at that.
“This is the first time that Canelo is fighting someone that basically has no respect for him.
“I’m sure he respects him as a fighter, but he’s not like, ‘Thank you for the opportunity.’ He’s not going to get in the ring in front of 70,000 fans and just crumble. That’s actually going to lift him,” said Hearn.
Canelo has thick enough skin to handle being trash-talked by Saunders without it affecting his performance on Saturday. If anything, it might make Canelo more willing to shoot for an early knockout.
With the ring being 22-feet, it won’t be easy for Canelo to get to Saunders if he uses movement for the full 12 rounds. On the flipside, Saunders won’t win a decision if he chooses to run.
It’s up to Saunders what he wants out of the fight. He can fight to survive and lose or try and win and potentially get knocked out.
Canelo says he’s going to enjoy punching Saunders
“I said to Canelo, ‘Do you like Billy Joe Saunders?’ He went, ‘No, I’m going to really enjoy punching him,’ basically. I’ve not seen that from him before.
“I’m sure he wanted to knock out Callum Smith and Yildrim. This is going to be interesting the next few days because Billy, I hope he’s not going to hold anyone for ransom again, but this is not the end of his mind games.
“Billy Joe is going to be really difficult to beat on Saturday night,” said Hearn.
Canelo looked upset on Wednesday for his first face-off with Saunders when the British fighter asked him repeatedly if he likes “Mexican beef.”
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