Billy Joe Saunders makes Canelo Alvarez fight demand as strict deadline set

Canelo Alvarez shows off agility skills in intense workout

Billy Joe Saunders has long insisted he is the man to beat Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and it is a fight which Eddie Hearn claimed was one day away from being announced in the summer. But the WBO World Super Middleweight champion insists the unification fight must be all-but agreed in the next two weeks or he will move on.

By his own admission, Saunders is still looking for that career-defining fight and after a superb performance in dethroning Callum Smith on Saturday night, there is no bigger attraction in world boxing right now than Canelo.

The debate around who is the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet is one which has raged on for almost as long as the sport itself. But the ease at which the Mexican beat a genuine and deserved world champion in Smith in San Antonio, with the judges scoring it 119-109, 119-109, 117-111, has seen many acknowledge it is hard to argue Canelo is not the best in the business right now.

The Mexican holds the WBC and WBA (super) belts, as well as The Ring magazine crown, and has won titles at four weight categories, following his victory over light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev in November 2019.

A clash with WBO champion Saunders would provide Canelo with the chance to move closer to unifying the super middleweight division. For the Brit, it gives him the chance to fight a future Hall of Famer and potentially secure the career-defining victory he so craves.

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But don’t expect Saunders to fall into the trap other British boxers have fallen into in the past, where they wait for the mega fight with a global superstar from across The Pond just for it to never materialise.

“I’ve texted Eddie [Hearn] and said let’s make the fight, and my management team MTK, so hopefully the fight can be made now. There is no bigger fight that can be made at the weight,” Saunders told IFL TV.

“I’m waiting for the chance. If not, then obviously we move on to the next step. I won’t be waiting around long.

“I know we are in the Christmas period now but before the next two weeks, the fight definitely needs to be in strong talks – if not sealed – or I’ll move on.”

How genuine Saunders is, only the fighter and those close to him can be sure. But Canelo isn’t the only ticket in town.

A Saunders-Smith fight would be of huge interest to those from these shores, while American Demetrius Andrade has expressed his interest in fighting the Hatfield fighter when he steps up to super middleweight.

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Saunders believes the Andrade bout would be a good fight and with both boxers on the same TV network, would be an easy one to get made. Hearn has also mentioned Gennady Golovkin in the past and GGG is another one in contention for a fight with Canelo after his own destructive performance against Kamil Szeremeta on Friday night.

Hearn revealed just how close Saunders had been to securing the fight with Alvarez earlier this month, when he stated they were one day away from the press conference to announce it when the Covid pandemic halted proceedings.

Smith took the Canelo title defence on four weeks’ notice and Saunders has explained why he was not willing to take a similar approach when boxing resumed after the summer.

Saunders told IFL TV: “We were about six weeks out and I had no training around me, no nutritionist around me and no proper gym around me or anything like that. I am not going to put myself into the firing line to undo everything I have ever done in boxing.

“If I get beaten by the better man then I go ‘well I did everything in my powers and I got beaten by the better man and he is a better man than me’. But I have been believing for so many years that I can beat Canelo.

“I believe in my heart that I have the tools to beat Canelo. So if I didn’t get in there and do it then it would be absolutely gutting to live with if I went in there just to pick a few quid up and hope to be alright.

“I need to make sure I am prepared to beat that man and I will.”

Canelo’s performance on Saturday night was remarkable. Smith was a bona fide world champion. The man many considered to be the best at 168 pounds prior to the weekend.

The Mexican was giving up seven inches in height and nearly eight inches in reach but the Liverpool man was unable to assert his natural advantages over his opponent as Canelo continually walked down Smith and dominated throughout with an exhibition in power punching, accuracy and defensive skills.

Like the rest of us, Saunders was impressed with Canelo but is adamant he can become the first man to defeat him since Floyd Mayweather Jr beat a 23-year-old Alvarez in 2013.

Saunders said: “I’ll be on the phone trying to get this fight made. I’m missing that big defining fight, the one which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and then I think you’ll see the best of me.

“A lot of people can talk a good game but then when it comes to it, they can’t find a way. I’ve never been in the ring in my life and not found a way [to win].

“That is what you need to have to beat someone like Canelo Alvarez. You need to have more than just a boxing brain and boxing ability. You need to have that all-round boxing craft.

“It is a good fight and it is a fight which I think should happen.It’s a unification fight and it is one of the biggest fights out there. So why not get it done?”

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