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Canelo vs. Saunders: Billy Joe is 100% live in this fight – says Eddie Hearn

Image: Canelo vs. Saunders: Billy Joe is 100% live in this fight - says Eddie Hearn

By William Lloyd: Billy Joe Saunders is 100% a live dog in tonight’s unification fight with heavy favorite Saul Canelo Alvarez in Arlington, Texas. The fight card will be shown on DAZN tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Promoter Eddie Hearn says Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) can produce the biggest upsets in Brtish boxing history by dethroning WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs).

This would be a massive win for Saunders, a fighter that almost no one believes has a chance to win tonight.  A victory for Saunders would be bigger than Tyson Fury’s upset of former IBF/WBA/WBC heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Billy Joe is going to be looking to pull off a Buster Douglas-esque level upset against the monster of the 168-lb division in Canelo.

No one has beaten Canelo since his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2013, and he’s improved measurably in the years since that loss.

If Saunders can be the one to send Canelo skittering down to defeat, it would put him in a situation where he can make a tremendous amount of money in a rematch in the UK in front of his loyal fans.

The crowd will help Billy Joe

“I’m so excited for the fight. Billy has talked a great game, he’s played his role,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV. “Of course, Canelo is Canelo. Let’s see. Can it be a massive win for British boxing?

Image: Canelo vs. Saunders: Billy Joe is 100% live in this fight - says Eddie Hearn

“Will Canelo reign supreme? Anything can happen, it’s going to be a brilliant fight. It’s a great undercard and an excellent atmosphere.

“We’re going to run boxing, we’re going to run U.S boxing. It’s a wonderful night for DAZN. The numbers are through the roof.

“The UK numbers are through the roof, and it’s four o’clock in the morning. It’s a massive night for the platform [DAZN], it’s a massive night for American boxing, Matchroom, Canelo, Billy Joe Saunders, and I can’t wait.

“This atmosphere is going to help Billy Joe, it’s going to make him sharp. I believe he’s well-equipped mentally to deal with that kind of stuff.

“I don’t think it’s going to play a part in the fight. It’s going to come down to is he good enough and can he pull off that kind of performance at that moment? But he’s the kind of guy that can?

“I’ve seen a different side of Canelo. Not edgy, but excited. He wants to do a job on Billy Joe Saunders.

“I don’t know if that’s good news or bad news for Billy or Canelo. Who knows? We can debate all day, but it’s going to unfold in a few hours,” Hearn said.

The huge pro-Canelo crowd of 70,000 tonight could work against him by motivating Saunders, who performs at his best when he’s in front of a large crowd.

It won’t matter to Saunders that the fans will be rooting exclusively for Canelo. he’s going to fight like they’re cheering for him.

Saunders is a 100% live dog

“But these are guys that are levels way below Canelo Alvarez,” said Hearn when reminded that Saunders beat fighters like David Lemieux in the past.

Image: Canelo vs. Saunders: Billy Joe is 100% live in this fight - says Eddie Hearn

“So Billy has to have more levels, and I think he has, but he has to show them tonight. Because if he can perform like he did against Chris Eubank Jr or maybe Lemieux and definitely Andy Lee, he may not win this fight.

“He has to produce his best ever performance and box at levels way above where he’s boxed before, but I think he’s that kind of guy. Just like Tyson Fury, same kind of mold.

“He boxed well above his levels when he beat Klitschko and when he beat Wilder. Can he [Saunders] do it at this moment? He’s going to have to. Canelo is going to be Canelo. He’s not going to box poorly.

“I don’t think he’s going to box above his head. He’s going to be pound-for-pound #1. In order to beat the pound-for-pound #1, you’ve got to be super special tonight.

“Billy is game he’s up for it, he’s excited. He’s going to lap it up out there. You start buying into the hype. ‘Can he do it? Is Canelo rattled? Billy Joe is sharp, Canelo doesn’t like that style.’

“He’s 100% live in this fight. Who knows? Maybe in the rematch, we may get 10,000 Brits over or maybe at Wembley,” Hearn said.

Saunders definitely has the chance to pull off the upset in this fight because he’s got the style, and more importantly the skills to defeat Alvarez.

The Mexican star hasn’t beaten anyone particularly good since his victory over Erislandy Lara in 2014, and that was a controversial win.

Canelo arguably lost both his two fights with Gennadiy Golovkin, so you can’t point to those matches to predict that he’ll beat Billy Joe.

Billy Joe poised for greatest British win of all time

“It’s all about the main event, but in terms of value, this is a great moment for boxing,” said Hearn about the Canelo – Saunders card.

“We’ve got the circuses going on, and that’s all fine, but we’ve got to show people how great the sport is. Tonight you shall see it.

“It’s not unthinkable. Of course, if Billy wins, it’ll be an upset, but this is his life. You’re not going into this fight, ‘Ah, he can’t win,” said Hearn.

A victory for Saunders will be massive for British boxing, eclipsing the best wins for great Brits in the past.

The thing is, almost no one is giving Saunders chance apart from a small group of fans, and his loyal promoter Hearn.

“He can win, but he’s got to produce the greatest British performance of all time. But I’m not ruling out Billy Joe, he’s here to win,” said Hearn.

“That’s an important thing. He’s here to win. Anything else but victory is not good enough for him in his mind.

“He must win this fight, and I think it’s going to be a cracker. Because this shows you how great our sport is.

“The biggest crowd post-pandemic in the U.S, and I think it could be the biggest crowd in the world post-pandemic.

“This is the best showcase for boxing in many, many years. The atmosphere is incredible, two tremendous world champions putting it on the line in a unification match.

“It’s a packed undercard as well, an unbelievable value on DAZN. Just enjoy,” said Hearn.

A win for Saunders will make it possible for Hearn to put together a rematch back home at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 fans. The only thing that would limit the crowd size is the government.

If the pandemic numbers have improved by late summer, it should be possible to stage the Canelo vs. Saunder II rematch in the UK.

Of course, if Saunders loses, there won’t be much point in putting these two back in with one another. Canelo will move on to face IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant in September, while Saunders goes home the loser, licking his wounds.

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