Mark Tibbs feels that his former trainee Billy Joe Saunders left a lot on the table as it relates to the latter’s boxing career.

The London-based Tibbs, a former fighter himself, trained the two-division champion Saunders ahead of his super middleweight unification bout against Canelo Alvarez last May, which Alvarez won by 8th round knockout. Tibbs' family and Saunders go way back, with Tibbs’ father, Jimmy, having trained Saunders for the first half of his professional career. Before returning to the Tibbs clan, Saunders trained under Ben Davison.

“Absolutely, for sure, spot on,” Tibbs said when asked by Boxing Social in a recent interview if Saunders could have had more success in the pro ranks. “Good person to train. Hard trainer, diligent trainer. He just could have been better. He could have been better.

“Looking back, I’m not saying this is a fact, but I’m sure he cut corners himself on the way out with what was in front of him. Because he’s that good. But all those corners, over that period of time —I’ll just guess this — all them corners, they add up. They add up, they add up. It’s frustrating. He’s very talented.”

The southpaw Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs), a 2008 Olympian, is known for his tricky, footloose style. Although he won the WBO middleweight title in 2015 against Andy Lee, and the WBO super middleweight title (vacant) in 2019 against Shefat Isufi, the Hertfordshire native has encountered questions about his dedication to the sport throughout his career.

“He was very, very good,” Tibbs said. “He could have been better. He was a good character to be around, he’s fun, but [he had] weight problems – I think when he turned professional he probably could’ve been a light middle[weight].

“My dad used to put him in sparring with any size and they could not touch [him]. Could not touch him. Big cruiserweights. They couldn’t touch him. He was that good.”

Saunders has indicated that he may retire from the sport. If, however, he continues to pursue his career, it does not appear that Tibbs will be involved. After the loss to Alvarez, Tibbs stated that he had not had any contact with Saunders and, moreover, that he would not be working with him any further. Tibbs and Saunders apparently had a falling out of sorts regarding Tibbs’ decision to throw in the towel during the Alvarez fight due to Saunders’ fractured eye, which has required extensive surgery.

“Yeah, I think so,” Tibbs said when asked if it was a “shame” how their relationship ended. “We’ve had no arguments. I had no arguments. I’m a straight shooter. Along the way if there are any problems, then say so, and we’ll have it out. If it ain’t right, I shouldn’t be there, then tell me. We had a good camp. He was in the best shape of his life…It was just a shame, shame , shame, shame.

“He could’ve been a better fighter.”