It appears the Canelo Alvarez train has passed by Billy Joe Saunders, who once had a prime passenger seat to face the pound-for-pound kingpin in a super middleweight showdown.
A May 2 match at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas between Saunders and Alvarez was agreed upon and a news conference was scheduled to announce the fight in March before Covid-19 wiped away the sport for months.
Now, as boxing slowly picks back up again during the pandemic, and Alvarez, a secondary WBA super middleweight titlist, eyes a two-fight return in 2020 with bouts in September and December, Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs), the WBO’s 168-pound champion, is left pondering whether or not he will have another chance at winning the sweepstakes to face the four-division champion Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs).
“[Matchroom Boxing head and promoter] Eddie Hearn is trying his best. We’re trying to get [the Alvarez] fight made, but to be honest with you, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Saunders told IFL. “So it is what it is. There’s a chance [Canelo fight still takes place], but in September, probably not … All I can do is keep winning. I’m not going to worry about that fight. I’m not desperate for their money. I’ve got enough money to feed my family.”
Lifelong Alvarez confidant and 2019 trainer of the year Eddy Reynoso outlined his fighter’s plans for the remainder of the year last month, listing Gennadiy Golovkin, Caleb Plant, David Benavidez and Saunders as potential opponents.
Since then, Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Anthony Dirrell have also been reported to be opponents who are in the mix to fight Alvarez, but nothing substantial has surfaced since then from either party.
“Whether it’s $100 million or $200 million or fuck--- ten pence, if I’m not 100% right and they try to spring stuff on me, I won’t take it,” Saunders said regarding Alvarez negotiations. “I do what the right decision is for me. I’m not working to develop Canelo’s career. I’m working on my own career. So if it suits, it suits. If it doesn’t suit, then it’s not the end of the world.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.