Eddie Hearn is banking on Billy Joe Saunders keeping it together mentally on Saturday night against Canelo Alvarez and not crumbling in front of the huge 70,000 pro-Canelo fans at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
With that said, Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) is no stranger to fighting in front of large crowds in England, but never anything like the 70K fans that will be showing up on Saturday night for their main event clash.
Also, Saunders never fought in front of a crowd that is more supportive of his opponent. Saunders has mostly been fighting in fan-friendly environments where he had them eating out of his hand.
It’s going to be a new experience for Saunders being the opponent to a star, and it may take some mental adjustment on his part with all the cheering that will be done for Alvarez.
Saunders has been trying his best to under Canelo’s skin with his mind games.
He dragged his feet with the ring size issue, making a major production about wanting a 22-foot ring rather than the normal 20-footer even though he’s never fought in a ring that size.
It was just mind games on Billy Joe’s part to try and get an edge against the superstar Canelo. Saunders obviously knows he’s going to have to put in the fight of his life for him to win.
Canelo doesn’t look rattled
“Everyone is talking about it; the numbers are tracking off the charts,” said Hearn to Boxing Social on the Canelo vs. Saunders fight.
“Everyone is winning, and boxing is winning because this is the biggest indoor crowd in the U.S in history. It’s the biggest live event in the U.S post-pandemic, and boxing did that.
“I’m excited for both guys and excited for Billy to go out there to show what he can do. The weigh-in is going to be crazy tomorrow, and the main event is going to be unbelievable.
“I don’t really know him well enough to say that he [Saunders] has gotten under his [Canelo] skin. He doesn’t seem to have, but maybe he has.
“He’s gone back to his hotel room punching holes in walls. He’s been around,” said Hearn about Canelo.
In Canelo’s second fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, he dealt with more mind games in the week of the fight than he did this week with Saunders.
Golovkin and his former trainer Abel Sanchez really gave Canelo a lot of grief in the week of the fight in their rematch in 2018. In contrast, Saunders mostly complained, sulked, and come across as bitter.
He’s not carried himself in the way a fighter does when they believe they have a good chance of winning.
Saunders has increased interest in the fight
“He’s seen fighters that have put it on him before; he’s faced all styles. But Billy is good at getting under people’s skin, but that job has been done now.
“Yesterday was their big play to do that, and it was fantastic. I guess Canelo’s camp might not have liked it, but when you look at what he did, when you look at the interest that it’s created in the fight, it’s getting bigger and bigger.
“This fight is great for both guys and incredible for DAZN, who are going to do massive numbers worldwide for this fight. I can’t wait.
“I don’t see Canelo rattled, but maybe underneath it all, he definitely has an edge to him in this fight that I didn’t see in the Callum Smith or the Yildrim fight.
“Whether that’s because he sees this as a tougher fight or because he’s aggravated, probably a little of both.
“I don’t know him having an edge or him wanting to knock Billy Joe out is good for Billy Joe or bad for Billy Joe.
“You can debate it all day long, but no one knows until the first bell goes,” said Hearn.
You got to give Saunders a great deal of credit for how he’s increased interest in the fight with his openness about how he feels that he’s been wronged in the run-up to the Canelo fight.
Hearn: Billy Joe won’t crumble
“Tomorrow is going to be very different,” said Hearn. “There will be 5,000 Canelo fans at the weigh-in, and then, of course, on fight night, you’re going to have 70,000.
“I keep saying that Billy Joe is not going to crumble under 70,000. I actually think he’ll perform better, but it’s a different type of environment.
“I don’t think anyone can really prepare you for that. You’ve just got to enjoy it, soaked it up, and go out and make history.
“I’ve said it before; this is the toughest fight for Canelo in the division,” said Hearn. “Because of the style, because of the trickery, and because of the ability of Billy Joe Saunders.
“Caleb Plant is a good fighter, but I just think this is a tougher fight for Canelo Alvarez. I think if he was asked, he might agree with that as well,” said Hearn.
Saunders will be too busy being hunted down on Saturday by Canelo for him to be worrying about the huge 70,000 crowds.
Hearn still believes that Saunders is the toughest test for Canelo in the 168-lb division, but a lot of boxing fans view these fighters as tougher tests:
- David Benavidez
- Carlos Gongora
- Edgar Berlanga
- Caleb Plant
- David Morrell