By Charles Brun: Former two-division world champion Billy Joe Saunders has taken to social media to call out highly ranked unbeaten 168-lb contender Edgar Berlanga, saying he wants to fight him next.
The 33-year-old Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) hasn’t fought in two years since suffering an eighth round injury stoppage loss to Canelo Alvarez in May 2021.
It was thought that Billy Joe had essentially retired after that defeat, enjoying the massive loot he got from the fight.
Is Billy Joe broke?
Saunders says he wants Berlanga as his “warm up” fight, which, if true, suggests he’s looking for a payday after 2+ years out of the ring. Has Saunders spent his entire fortune? What did he do with all the dough he made from the Canelo bout?
He made millions for the Canelo fight, enough to retire and never work again. Has Saunders spent his entire fortune already after just two years? I mean, you got to wonder because for him to immediately call out Berlanga, saying he wants him straightaway, that reeks of desperation.
It’s unclear how serious Billy Joe is about fighting the 26-year-old Berlanga (21-0, 16 KOs) because he’s much younger and is arguably a light heavyweight in size.
The guy looked bigger than 175-lb champions Artur Beterbiev & Dmitry Bivol in his recent confidence-booster fight against Jason Quigley last June, and he had all kinds of problems in that contest.
Berlanga ultimately won an impressive twelve-round unanimous decision, but he looked light years away from being ready to fight the big dogs at 168, Canelo, David Morrell Jr, and David Benavidez.
Not surprisingly, Berlanga has shown no interest in trying to earn the Canelo fight by facing Morrell or Benavidez. He’s just looking for the Canelo fight right away off the back of his tune-up against Quigley, and that’s kind of pathetic because it means he wants the cash-out payday without having to work for it.
Berlanga needs green light
Eddie Hearn would need to give the green light for Berlanga to take this fight with Billy Joe, and he’s probably not going to put the badly flawed novice in with the far more skilled & accomplished Saunders.
The way that Hearn is talking about wanting to rush Berlanga into a fight with Canelo next year there’s no way on earth he’ll let him fight Saunders because he might lose.
Most believe that Hearn will continue to feed Saunders stiffs until Canelo completes his three-fight deal with PBC. If that fight doesn’t happen, Hearn will be stuck with pretty much stuck with no good options for money fights with Berlanga unless he can pressure Goldeen Boy into letting him fight Jaime Munguia.
Hearn obviously isn’t going to put Berlanga in with the talented, super middleweights like Benavidez or Morrell, as he lacks the ability to compete with those guys. Saunders would be all wrong for Berlanga because he lacks the technical skills to compete with a fighter like him.
If Saunders is able to get in good shape for the fight, he could potentially embarrass him like he did David Lemieux in 2017. You could argue that Berlanga is this era’s version of Lemieux but with less power.
— Edgar Berlanga Jr (@EdgarBerlangaJr) July 19, 2023
Billy Joe’s right eye socket was fractured in multiple places after he was nailed by an uppercut from Canelo. Since that fight, Saunders has been inactive and put on a lot of weight, looking as big as a house.
Saunders must lose weight
“Billy Joe Saunders wants to come back. We haven’t seen Billy Joe Saunders since the Canelo fight, which feels like a lifetime ago now. That was frightening,” said Ade Oladipo on his Youtube channel.
“Billy Joe was doing okay until he got caught, and when he got caught, that was that. That was 168 pounds, and that was Billy Joe’s first defeat. There was a lot of talk about retirement after. He pretty much has retired, and now he’s saying he wants to come back. I think he’s mentioned 175.
“I saw Billy Joe at an event. It must have been about four months ago. Big. He was big, way bigger than I was, and definitely over 200 pounds. He wants to become a three-weight world champion.
“There are great fights out there for him domestically and worldwide at 175. So he’s got a chance. I just don’t know. I don’t know if you can take that long off, and again me seeing the size of him, I’m guessing he didn’t really live the life.
“If Billy Joe comes back now, it will definitely be the end of the year. It’s two and a half years out of the ring. That’s a long, long time, but some people might say your body has healed.
“He’s fresh now, and he’s ready to go again mentally. I’m just not convinced. I’d like to see him fight. He’s obviously going to have a warm-up. He’s not going to go straight in. He’s a very good fighter. Billy Joe, I think he’s a good addition. Everyone’s going to want him,” said Ade.