Eddie Hearn is cautiously optimistic that he can produce the Canelo Alvarez fight for Billy Joe Saunders for Cinco de Mayo next May. But it’s going to be tricky, though, to try and get Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) to agree to the fight because he’s got to be happy.
WBO super middleweight champion Saunders is someone that isn’t going to take a fight with any fighter if he’s not happy with the situation, be it financially or healthwise.
Saunders had a chance to fight Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) in 2020, but he passed on it because he wanted a 10-week training camp rather than the 8-weeks that was offered to him.
Some boxing fans believe that Saunders, 31, didn’t fancy the fight enough for him to want to agree to face the superstar Canelo.
Instead of Saunders signing to face Canelo, his fellow countryman former WBA 168-lb champion Callum Saunders took the match, and he was totally dominated in an embarrassingly one-sided fight.
With Billy Joe’s lack of pop in his punches, that could have been him that Canelo toyed with last December instead of Smith, who fought like a sparring partner rather than the WBA belt-holder.
Hearn believes he can deliver for Saunders
“That’s not a fight right now of interest,” said Hearn to iFL TV when asked if he’d be interested in matching Billy Joe Saunders against Chris Eubank Jr. “Billy Joe needs a career-defining fight, and for me, that’s Canelo Alvarez.
“Demetrius Andrade has been ordered to fight Liam Williams. Actually, he just received a letter today. So there’s a purse bid in 15 days’ time.
“So really, we need to make the Canelo Alvarez fight for Billy Joe, and that’s what we’re trying to do. I believe I can deliver the Canelo – Billy Joe Saunders fight.
“But Billy has to be happy [financially], and unfortunately, we’re in a moment right now where there isn’t a bumper gate in Las Vegas on the line.
“So you got Canelo Alvarez and other fighters might take less money and some that might not be willing to take less money.
But for me, this is Billy’s chance now to do what he’s always said,” said Hearn.
It’s debatable whether Hearn can deliver the Canelo fight for Saunders or not. As the saying goes, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’
In other words, Hearn can give Saunders the opportunity, but he can’t wrestle him to the ground and physically force him to sign the contract if he’s not willing to take the fight.
You can argue there’s a reason why Saunders has been fighting guys like Shefat Isufi, Artur Akavov, Charles Adamu, and Marcelo Esteban Cocoeres for the past five years instead of the popular fighters.
This might be as good as it gets for Saunders with him only agreeable to fighting those types of guys.
Hearn targeting Canelo vs. Saunders for May
“He believes he can beat Canelo Alvarez, and I believe we can make that fight for Cinco de Mayo,” said Hearn.
“But Billy has got to be happy, and until Billy is happy with the deal for that fight, it won’t happen, but I hope that we can get to a point where he is happy because he believes he can win the fight.
“That’s his moment to try and achieve greatness. I had some conversations with him and MTK to say, ‘Let’s try and make that fight for Cinco de Mayo.’
“That opportunity is there for Billy. Yeah,” said Hearn when asked if Saunders is the frontrunner to face Canelo in May.
“You got [Avni] Yildirim in five weeks away. That fight is there for Billy Joe. I think we have an opportunity to get that fight over the line, but again, Billy has got to be happy, everyone has got to be happy with the deal, and talks are ongoing,” said Hearn.
It’s good that Hearn will give his best try to set up the Canelo fight for Saunders, but he might need to give up on the idea hand the fight to one of his other Matchroom fighters if Billy Joe starts dragging his feet. It’s too bad; Kell Brook is washed.