Billy Joe Saunders: This is life and death for me

Billy Joe Saunders says he knew he was destined to fight Canelo Alvarez sooner or later, just as he knew that he would fight David Lemieux during his career.

According to Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), this is a ‘life and death’ fight for him and his career, as he needs this victory to open up other big opportunities.

A ‘W’ against Canelo would lead to a lucrative rematch with the Mexican star and then possibly fights against Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, and whoever. The sky would be the limit if Saunders can beat Canelo.

WBO super middleweight champion Saunders’ win over in 2017 is the high point of his career thus far. Now he’s hoping to surpass that victory with a huge upset of WBA/WBC champ Canelo Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) this Saturday night in their bout in front of 70,000 fans at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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Saunders knew he would eventually fight Canelo

“To me, this is life and death. I’m looking at it like we’re both chuck out in the sea, and you either swim or sink down under,” said Saunders to Eddie Hearn: No Passion, No Point.

Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo Alvarez - Boxing News

“I always knew that me and David Lemieux’s path would cross when he was knocking everyone out, and I always knew me and Canelo Alvarez’s path would cross; I just knew it,” said Saunders.

Canelo was interested in fighting Saunders years ago, but it’s taken longer than people thought it would due to the Mexican star being busy facing more popular guys.

Saunders hasn’t helped himself by failing to build his profile in the United States by fighting over there. He also hasn’t helped himself by facing lackluster opposition over and over again.

Billy Joe should be more popular than he is now, but he’d been held back by his promoters matching him against sublevel opposition exclusively.

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Saunders’ opposition since 2015:

  • Charles Adamu
  • Shefat Isufi
  • Martin Murray
  • Willie Monroe Jr
  • Marcelo Esteban Coceres
  • Andy Lee
  • Artur Akavov
  • David Lemieux

Looking back at Billy Joe’s biggest career victory over Lemieux in 2017, it came a little late in the Canadian’s career. Golovkin had already knocked out Lemieux in 2015 and Marco Antonio Rubio in 2011.

Shockingly, Lemieux had also lost to Joachim Alcine. With those three defeats, it took the shine away from Saunders’ win over Lemieux in 2017.

“So it would mean the absolute world to me to take them belts home, and to do it not only for the Gypsy community but also for all of Great Britain,” said Saunders.

Canelo feels motivated

“No,” said Canelo when asked if he likes Saunders as a person. “This fight is different because he has four years talking about me.

“My mind is calm, but on Saturday night, it’s going to be different. He’s in a different level fight now. He’s going to see what’s going to happen.

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“It’s not going to be the same fight as guys that he’s fought before. I feel more motivated, and I feel excited. In boxing, there are hard fights and difficult fights.

“This is going to be a difficult fight for me because his style is really difficult. But I’m not the same fighter I was six years ago. I’m different.

“Now I’m in my prime; I feel more confident, more mature. I have more experience in the ring, and I’m going to show him on Saturday night,” said Canelo.

Alvarez will have to be ready to chase Saunders around the ring because he’s not going to fight him the way any of his opposition has in the last eight years of his career.

Even Floyd Mayweather Jr and Erislandy Lara didn’t move as much as we’re going to be seeing from Saunders on Saturday.

What that means is, Canelo will need to wait for when Saunders does come forward looking to throw shots. That’s when Canelo will have a chance to engage before Saunders gets back on his bike.

Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo Alvarez - Boxing News

“This is his time to shine,” said Tyson Fury about Billy Joe. “If he beats Canelo, he’s elevated from a two-division world champion to one of the best British fighters in history or one of the best middleweights of all time.

“Billy Joe needs a great dance partner like Canelo to bring the best of him out. He’s [Canelo] been beaten before, and he can lose again.

“Billy Joe has yet to taste; he’s looking good in the gym; he’s looking nice and relaxed. I think he played a good part this week in getting into Canelo’s head.

“Canelo has been responding by calling us [Team Saunders] p**** and stuff. I’m here to support my old buddy, and I’m quite confident he’s going to win for sure.

“Me and Billy Joe are cut from the same cloth. We don’t bother about crowds and where we are. Germany, America, or wherever it may be, we go there and fight the champions and take what’s there,” said Fury.

It would be interesting to know if Fury really believes Saunders will win or if he’s saying this because it’s his buddy. Either way, Saunders is up against it fighting Canelo right now because he’s taking such a huge step up in class.

Considering that Lemieux is Saunders’ best career opponent, it’s going to be hard for him to match Canelo, given his lack of experience against world-class opposition. Lemieux isn’t what you would call a world-class fighter, and that’s Saunders’ best win.