By his own admission, there was “something missing” in Billy Joe Saunder’s performance this past Saturday night. Defending his WBO super-middleweight title for the first time, facing the somewhat unheralded Argentine Marcelo Esteban Coceres, southpaw Saunders was behind on points and was looking poor before he dug deep and quite sensationally knocked the challenger down three times in round-11 to get the stoppage win. Still unbeaten, just about, Saunders, 29-0(14) became the first man in 30 pro fights to defeat Coceres, now 28-1-1(15).
After hanging onto his belt, 30 year old Saunders again called for a fight with superstar Canelo Alvarez (who may or may not opt to drop back down from 175, to either 160 or 168). And Saunders feels that his mighty struggle with Coceres might prove to be a blessing in disguise, as Canelo “may look at that and think now is the time to get me.” Saunders stressed how he did not want to make excuses, but that he had “not slept in five days” and that the travelling he had to do to fight the fight in L.A may well have played a big part in his struggle.
Saunders – a perfect example of a fighter who can blow hot and cold: one fight he looks sensational, see his pitch-perfect performance against David Lemieux, another time he struggles, see Saturday’s fight – has long since believed and argued how he can beat both Canelo and Gennady Golovkin. Today, able to “fluctuate at middleweight and super-middleweight,” Saunders is still calling for the opportunity.
“Canelo Alvarez is the one I want next,” Saunders said, after admitting that his latest performance was not one of world class. “I can fluctuate at middleweight and super-middleweight. The bigger fights are at super-middleweight. All the super-middleweights will look at this [performance] and think ‘we haven’t got a lot to worry about there so let’s get in the ring.’”
But will they? Saunders, as any fan who has seen him at his best knows, can really fight, and he is not easy to hit when he’s on his A-game. Sure he has a recognized world title, but it’s unlikely a big line of big names will be, well, lining up to fight him. They know Saunders can make them look as bad as he himself looked on Saturday.
We all await Canelo’s next move with great interest. Billy Joe Saunders more than most. What say you, is Saunders a worthy foe for the mighty Mexican? Who would win if they did meet at either 160 or at 168?