Alvarez vs Saunders: Big Fight Preview
By Oliver McManus
After a fight week riddled with, 22ft large, shenanigans it appears as though Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders is all set for Saturday night… not that anyone ever REALLY thought it wouldn’t go ahead.
There’s been a lot of bluff and bluster to go with the build-up to a super middleweight contest that will see three belts in the 168lb division going home with one man. Indeed such is the clout and stature around Canelo that it can be easy to forget that Saunders is bringing his WBO belt to the party in this unification bout.
For Alvarez this will be his fourth contest in the space of 187 days: the sort of regularity that is rarely seen among the elite of the sport. Saunders, meanwhile, has had just the two fights since signing with Matchroom in the summer of 2019: he defended his title against Marcelo Coceres in November 2019 and followed that up against Martin Murray in December just gone.
Neither of those two fights for Saunders were particularly compelling and nor did the 31 year old southpaw showcase anything new. To spin that slightly differently: he didn’t show anything close to suggesting he has the beating of Canelo.
Indeed to look at any Saunders performance likely to ask questions of the Mexican superstar you’d have to go way back to December 2017 and that night in Quebec. Campaigning at 160lbs back then, he made an absolute mockery of hometown favourite David Lemieux to retain his WBO middleweight crown.
The Brit reunited with Mark Tibbs in September last year having had stints with Ben Davidson, Danny Vaughan, Adam Booth and Dominic Ingle since defeating Andy Lee in December 2015.
Alvarez has retained his status as the money man of the middleweight division, and indeed world boxing, despite some uninspiring opponents (Avni Yilidrim and Rocky Fielding) either side of legacy cementing wins over Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith and Gennadiy Golovkin. Whilst criticism can often be legitimately levelled at Canelo his domination across weight divisions has to be respected.
I use the phrase ‘legacy cementing’ in reference to Alvarez’ ambition in pursuing wins over ‘big names’ across a number of weight divisions; make what you want about the fashion or circumstance of his wins but Golovkin and Jacobs at 160lbs, Smith at 168lbs and Kovalev at 175lbs are wins that demonstrate considerable chutzpah.
Will the size of the ring really make a difference on the night? Probably not but it’s a nice distraction, isn’t it? It’s a good gimmick to deflect from the fact Canelo Alvarez is, across the board, a far better fighter than Billy Joe Saunders.