This Saturday night from the AT&T Stadium home of the Dallas Cowboys, Canelo Alvarez will face Billy Joe Saunders in a unification bout at super middleweight.
The betting lines and many boxing experts will have you believe this isn’t a competitive matchup on paper. And to be fair, Saunders hasn’t done a thing really at 168 that would warrant him being under something in the ballpark of +200.
Adding more to that, though, it’s been quite a long time since Billy Joe has fought a quality opponent dating back to the end of 2017 when he thoroughly out-boxed David Lemieux.
What makes Saunders stand out as a boxer and particularly in this fight, is his style and how it could give Canelo several rounds to adjust fully. Can Billy Joe give Canelo a run for his money, or will he just run and collect his money? This event will be streamed live on DAZN in front of a pack Cowboys Stadium in front of 60,000 plus fans in attendance.
In the last few years, Billy Joe Saunders’s persona has been the topic when discussing his career far more than what he’s accomplished in the ring.
Point blank, Billy has been very inconsistent. Even when facing opposition clearly not near his level, he will still look like crap and at times get hurt.
Outside of the ring, Billy Joe is known to balloon up in weight and say silly stuff on camera, with some going overboard. The only name in a recent timeframe of note came against Demetrius Andrade, but Billy Joe Saunders tested positive for a ban substance.
His inhaler was the excuse or reason, depending on how you look at it for the illegal substance showing up on his positive test. Saunders got his WBO 168 belt via vacancy versus Shefat Isufi. Yes, it’s very true Saunders hasn’t earned his keep at super middleweight just yet.
One thing that does seem different on the outside looking in is Saunders taking care of his body. Back in December, Billy Joe easily defeated a past his prime Martin Murray. Beating Murray isn’t a revelation.
It was how good he looked physically, not just on that night but the following months knowing of the strong possibility for landing a fight with Canelo.
Staying in close to peak form is only half the battle, of course, and it doesn’t guarantee a thing, but it’s nice to know heading into Saturday. The manner in which Saunders can fight could present difficulties for Canelo, especially in a 22 x22 ring Billy Joe smartly finagled during fight week.
Switching over to Canelo Alvarez, this will be his 3rd time fighting in under 5 months, a rarity once a boxer gets to a certain level in their career.
Of course, Canelo had to make up for lost time, considering he was on the sidelines for 13 months before his bout with Callum Smith.
He dominated Smith over 12 rounds and did pretty much exactly what most folks thought by stopping Avni Yildirim in February. Over the last several years, unlike Saunders, Canelo has improved as a fighter defensively and physically.
Let’s not forget it wasn’t all that long ago when we would see Canelo routinely gas in the middle of rounds or at least coast to preserve energy. And even with that sizable improvement, a case can still be made for being at least a skeptic for his ability or inability to cut the ring off on his foes.
Let’s throw his worse result in a loss to Floyd Mayweather out of the equation and instead focus on Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, and Daniel Jacobs. It really doesn’t matter how you scored the rounds in Lara and Trout. The point is Canelo wasn’t able to effectively corner or cut the ring off for the most part.
This boxing podcaster thought neither guy did enough to separate and earn the win in the Canelo vs. Lara fight. The knockdown was the deciding factor in his victory over Trout. Daniel Jacobs did feature decent movement on the outside, somewhat similar to what he did in his tightly-contested outing versus Gennadiy Golovkin.
Basically, this hack-of-a-scribe needs to see Canelo coming forward efficiently to believe that’s the case because up until now, it really hasn’t happened. Not saying it’s not possible.
Look for Billy Joe Saunders to get off to a good start racking up points while Canelo registers his movements. Whether it’s the first 4 rounds or maybe 6 to 8 frames in Billy, Joe Saunders will be neck and neck to the tune of 2-2 or 3-3.
At least that’s what we will see, not what the judges may score. One of the major differences between Erislandy Lara and Billy Joe Saunders is distance.
Both obviously use their feet a bunch, but Lara is more of the move all the way out and reset whether it comes after landing a punch or when Canelo attempted to throw combos.
Saunders will stay longer on the edge of the pocket, looking to land a counter keeping him in range to punch; however, that’s a two-street and may open the door for Canelo to land harder punches after establishing his jab.
Canelo has a better resume win lose or draw, been in several huge fights with a bright spotlight, and at least has faced high-level outside slick boxers, a few even being southpaw to boot.
Two feet as far as ring size doesn’t seem like much at all, but it could be a small detail that gives Saunders even more confidence, and he may use it to circle more instead of camping out lurking in the pocket barley. Canelo’s body attack with his sharp jab and both hands is a must to slow down BJS.
This fight will be closer than the majority of people watching think. It will take some time and no doubt be a chess match, but in the end, Canelo will make the correct adjustments to land the better punches in the long run.
Calling for an 8-4 range type of scorecard, but we can’t rule out a split decision. In all honesty, we have to assume that BJ Saunders will have to win 8 rounds just to sway the scorecards or maybe get a draw.
A competitive fight, to begin with, will slowly but surely see Canelo take over, winning the last few rounds to close the stronger of the two.
My Official Prediction is Canelo Alvarez by Unanimous Decision.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio