On Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders attempts to defy the odds and dethrone pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez at the AT&T Stadium in Texas.
Two-weight champion Saunders thirst for a career-defining fight will finally become a reality but can he upset the Mexican superstar with the eyes of the boxing world and around 70,000 fans, mostly Canelo devotees, fixed upon him?
Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers and soothsayers attempt to predict the outcome of tonight’s super-middleweight unification showdown.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Guti was a very good footballer who produced some unbelievable flashes of ability. However, he was rarely excellent for 90 minutes, never mind for an entire season. He was accused of being overweight, his lifestyle choices off the pitch were frequently criticised and he could look disinterested for large portions of matches. Fans, managers and pundits often believed he could achieve so much more. Even when he was over 30, commentators spoke of his potential. Ultimately, he never managed to turn those glimpses of what he was capable of into something more sustained. He was what he was. I can’t help but draw parallels between the former Spanish international and Billy Joe Saunders. The ‘08 Olympian has not shown he his capable of the level of performance required to beat Canelo, at any point during his career. There have been moments of excellence, but they have been just that – moments. Yet, people still have faith that one day he will “put it all together.” I’m afraid that if he hasn’t done it in the past 11 years, it’s unlikely he will do it now. Saunders is a very good fighter capable of moments of brilliance, rather than a brilliant fighter. Canelo is an elite boxer. In the past, Saunders has started well before fading in the second half of the fight, I think the same will happen again, except this time he is in with a boxer who will be able to capitalise. Canelo by late stoppage. – John A. MacDonald.
As slippery as Saunders is, I just don’t think he’s good enough to topple Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican keeps on improving, and while Billy Joe Saunders had flashes of sheer brilliance during a wonderful performance from a few years ago against a fringe contender, I haven’t seen anything that makes me believe he’s also on the rise. Saunders is great on his day; Canelo is exceptional. I fancy the bookies’ favourite to win, and potentially stop Saunders in the last three rounds. – Craig Scott.
Typically, a British world champion or serious contender would go into a fight of this magnitude with a groundswell of support back home. However, such an eventuality appears unlikely in the case of Saunders. An unblemished record in the ring has been routinely besmirched by a succession of crass comments, and tasteless videos outside of it. To such an extent that it is possible to admire his efficiency in the ring, but hard to feel much else for him outside of it. Pre-fight Saunders has adopted the customary swagger and confidence, but he is beginning to resemble a cocky, wisecracking school bully who has mistakenly called out the silent hard case at the back of the class. Saunders owns a perfect record driven by technical proficiency, but for all that, his career has lacked dazzle and a single defining fight. Canelo will provide him with that opportunity and more this weekend. However, I cannot perceive a scenario where he can possibly come out on top. A knockout is inconceivable and therefore the customary puncher’s chance can be discounted. If he turns in the performance of his life it still won’t be enough to create sufficient daylight on the judges’ cards, where only the kind of dominating, emphatic, performance that I don’t think he is capable of in this company would be required. Don’t rule out a slow start where Saunders uses all of his defensive tricks, followed by the Mexican gradually grinding him down in the middle rounds before given him hell in the last stretch. I narrowly favour a late stoppage over a unanimous points verdict. – Garry White.
I’m going for Saunders, in a meteoric upset. He’s historically boxed better, every time the opposition has been tougher. Doesn’t get tougher than this….which will hopefully surface his A+ game. A boxer has a better chance against Canelo….Let’s see what happens!! – Paul Zanon.
Don’t piss off a redhead! I should know I married one. And Billy Joe Saunders has well and truly pissed Canelo Alvarez off. What was already going to be an uphill battle could have just become Everest. Canelo is a tough enough ask when he’s in a good mood. Saunders has tried every trick in the book to get in the Mexican star’s head, similar to Tyson Fury’s escapades in 2015 against Wladimir Klitschko, but I can’t see any of it working. He won’t be able to keep Canelo away for 12 rounds and it should all come crashing down for BJS. Canelo via a 9th round stoppage. – Matt Bevan.
For all Saunders’ confidence and ability, I do not think he has what it takes to topple Canelo. I believe that the Mexican will look to move to his left in order to successfully cut off the ring and pressurise Saunders on to the back foot, before working him to the body, particularly with his left hook. Canelo’s work to Saunders’ body should slow the Briton down sufficiently to enable the Mexican to also score and hurt him to the head. If he can do this, Canelo should prevail, probably via a late stoppage, or a conclusive points victory with Saunders hanging grimly on during the championship rounds. – Luke G. Williams.
Years ago, slick southpaw Saunders had a fighting chance against Canelo, but the Mexican has improved beyond all recognition in recent times. He’s a different animal now and a veritable machine at 168lbs. A painful night lies in store for the talented but inconsistent Saunders, but I think he can last the 12 rounds. – Mark Butcher.
Main image: Matchroom Boxing.