Billy Joe Saunders jokingly asked Eddie Hearn if his promoter could convince Canelo Alvarez to fight him in Hearn’s backyard.
Saunders and Hearn realize, of course, that there’s no way Alvarez would agree to face Saunders on the grounds of Matchroom Boxing’s headquarters, where Hearn’s company plans to stage fights in July and August. It is possible, though still improbable, that Alvarez and Saunders could box inside an empty venue if they fight later this year.
Sacrificing ticket revenue from an Alvarez fight would be challenging for Golden Boy Promotions, but Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told BoxingScene.com recently it is at least a consideration as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.
England’s Saunders feels facing Mexico’s Alvarez without fans in attendance would be a more favorable environment for him because the crowd wouldn’t be able to impact how judges would score their 12-round, 168-pound championship match.
“If we fight in an empty arena, he’s in my world now,” Saunders told Hearn and Tony Bellew for the newest episode of “Talk The Talk” on Matchroom’s YouTube channel. “He’s in my world. He packs arenas. He packs stadiums. I fill half of Stevenage football ground. … You see, the problem is, with someone like him, and Tony will tell you the same thing – he’s been in big, big fights. Big fighters like that, you know, if he throws a shot and misses, the crowd all get behind him. That plays an effect with the judges and everybody watching the fight. But if it’s silent so you can hear a pin drop, you’ve got to focus on that fight even more. You have to focus on that fight. So, I believe that I would love to fight him in an empty arena.”
England’s Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) agreed to defend his WBO super middleweight title against Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) on May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That’s the same venue where judge Adalaide Byrd absurdly scored Alvarez the winner of 10 rounds in his first 12-round middleweight title fight against Gennadiy Golovkin, which resulted in a controversial split draw in September 2017.
Hearn has asked DAZN’s executives to reschedule the Alvarez-Saunders fight once the coronavirus crisis allows it. DAZN’s decision-makers would prefer to match Alvarez against Golovkin for the third time once the boxing business resumes, but Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs) wants to make a mandatory defense of his IBF middleweight title versus Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs) before facing Alvarez again.
“I’m in this sport, Eddie, because I wanna be the best,” Saunders said. “And I’ve been banging on about [fighting Alvarez] long enough. I believe I’ve got the tools to beat him. He’s an exceptionally great fighter, one of the best. But to get that name, to be the best, you know, you have to beat them sort of people. And at the minute, he’s the cash cow. He’s the big man out there. You know, everybody in the boxing world knows him and he’s the man I would love to beat.”
The inconsistent Saunders says he would be motivated to battle Alvarez the way he was when he traveled to Laval, Quebec, and defeated David Lemieux near the hard-hitting Canadian’s hometown in December 2017. Saunders boxed brilliantly that night and beat Lemieux convincingly on all three scorecards.
“It’s one of them where I know I’m on my game,” Saunders said, “I’m fit, everything I’ve done right, I know that I can go in there and beat him – if I get the decision. That’s the only thing that was always in my mind, you know?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.