Trainer James ‘Buddy’ McGirt doesn’t see Billy Joe Saunders benefiting from a larger 22-foot ring over a 20-footer for his fight this Saturday night against Canelo Alvarez at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
While it may help Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) calm his nerves a little ahead of this important clash with WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs), it won’t help him if he’s being crowded the entire fight.
McGirt has a suspicion that Saunders, 31, decided to make a big deal out of the ring size so that he can upset Canelo, anger him to get him to be thrown off mentally.
Saunders needs Canelo to be fighting angry and making mistakes on Saturday night for him to have a better chance of winning. If Canelo is fighting like a wild man rather than his normal calm, composed self, it’ll give Saunders a chance to frustrate him and win rounds.
Against a professional like Canelo, the tactics that Saunders uses to try and upset him will likely only work for the first three or four rounds before he calms down starts cutting off the ring on him.
We saw a very average fighter in Marcelo Esteban Coceres get the better of Saunders in 2019 with his faster hands and power. Saunders needed a knockout to beat Coceres in the 11th round.
“I don’t think it’s the ring size, I think it’s more: ‘You’re not going to play these games with me. You made a deal and you’re going to stick to it,'” said Buddy McGirt to the DAZN Boxing Show on Saunders wanting a 22-foot ring over a 20-footer.
The mind games that Saunders is using might work against a lesser fighter, but it’s probably not going to have an impact on what Canelo chooses to do inside the ring. He’s going to force Saunders to stop moving.
Callum Smith wanted to move against Canelo, but after he got hit in the breadbasket, he stopped and needed to brace for the shots. Saunders isn’t as tough as Callum, so he’s likely to stop running almost immediately once Canelo spears him to the body with his jabs and power shots.
“Some guys feel more comfortable knowing they’ve got that space,” said McGirt.
“When some guy’s getting in your face, it feels like you’re in a phone booth, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a forty-foot ring.”
Two feet isn’t likely to help Saunders win the fight because he’s got major stamina issues that will surface in the second half of the fight, particularly with the way Canelo is going to be pressuring him.
You can expect that Canelo will target Saunders’ midsection to keep him from running all night. Getting hit with body shots from Canelo will make it very difficult for Saunders to stay on the run for the entire fight, as he’ll need to brace for those shots.
Getting hit with body shots while one is moving makes it hard to take them as well when a fighter is stationary. That’s why it’s pointless for Billy Joe to make a big deal about having a larger ring.
Yeah, that might work if Saunders was fighting a flawed guy like the opposition that he’s been facing during his 12-year pro career, but this is Canelo.
He’s going to take the air out of Saunders’ tires if he chooses to spoil all night by running nonstop. He won’t be able to do that without getting hurt to the body.
“It’s coming down to mind games now. It’s nothing to do with the two feet,” said McGirt.
“I’m thinking Canelo, you’re here, you’re going to give us the advantage.”
The ring size issues have already been ironed out as of Wednesday. Canelo has agreed to give Saunders the extra-large 22-foot ring that he was asking for, so that issue is now settled.
The only thing left now for Saunders is to trash talk Canelo, and hope that he can upset him enough to where he won’t fight effectively on Saturday.
It’s not likely to work, but what else can Saunders do? He doesn’t match up with Canelo in terms of talent or experience. He’s got to try something to get an edge.