Respected trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas believes Canelo Alvarez is a beatable fighter but Billy Joe Saunders isn’t the man to do the business in their WBC, WBA and WBO super-middleweight title match on Saturday.
Alvarez and Saunders lock horns at the AT&T Stadium, Texas, tomorrow in a unification bout that has gripped the boxing world. The Mexican, already considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, is aiming to hold three world super-middleweight crowns before sealing undisputed status against IBF title holder Caleb Plant later in the year.
Despite the Mexican’s lofty standing in the game, Atlas believes Canelo carries vulnerability but Saunders and Plant are not the men to exploit it. The trainer feels the duo have been carefully selected with more dangerous opposition at large.
“Everyone is beatable and Alvarez is on that list. He’s a good fighter and he’s progressed – he’s improved in time like a good wine – but he’s beatable. Part of the genius of Alvarez is that his team has been pretty smart picking his spots and picking opponents,” Atlas told ESPN.com. “The guys he’s beaten – it’s not that he’s beaten great fighters, they’re guys he’s supposed to beat, and he’s done it in a way where he’s looked good doing it.
“When you’re breaking down the quality and level of a fighter, the level of opponents go into it. It has to be part of the assessment. The guys that he’s fought aren’t high-level guys. You have to have a quality fighter to beat Alvarez. That’s a simple explanation, but a true explanation. Put him in with an Andre Ward or the Charlo brothers [Jermall and Jermell] or even David Benavidez. Put him in with light-heavyweight titlists Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol, and you’ll find out how to beat him. The guys that are mentally tough enough with good technique and skills will show you how to beat him. I’d make him an underdog against both those light-heavyweights. That’s the true picture of Alvarez.
“Floyd Mayweather beat him. Mayweather was smart defensively, he has quick hands. He made him miss, made him pay. He wasn’t waiting around for the receipt. He didn’t expose his body, he didn’t give Alvarez an opportunity to put water in the basement. Mayweather was quicker to close the gap. Alvarez’s feet were too slow. I know Alvarez has progressed since Mayweather.
“So how do you actually beat him? You don’t need Superman to fly down from Planet Krypton to get this done. If you have a fighter who knows how to fight defensively, can counterpunch, can use his legs on the outside, control the perimeter of the ring and not expose his body by laying in front too long, that fighter can win. The worst type of opponent for Alvarez is one who can box on the outside and be a combination of a loose and large fighter who is defensively responsible. Someone who is slick in the ring, like Erislandy Lara, who showed he can counterpunch. That opponent needs to be mentally tough, too.
“There are really two paths to victory for an opponent against Alvarez: Have enough pop in your punch to gain his respect so he won’t walk you down or, if you don’t have the pop, be disciplined enough to keep a certain range and distance and have the offensive success you need from the outside.
“Saunders was a good choice for Alvarez and, after him, Caleb Plant is, too. I think both Saunders and Plant will give Alvarez room to work the body. Both are fights that won’t be highly contested.”
Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA.