Canelo Alvarez accused Billy Joe Saunders of making “excuses” before they even enter the ring Saturday night.
Alvarez dismissed Saunders’ concerns about the judging of their 12-round, 168-pound championship unification bout because they’ll fight in the United States, not Mexico. The 30-year-old Alvarez is from Guadalajara, Mexico, but his showdown with England’s Saunders will be Alvarez’s 19th straight fight in the United States.
They’ll fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC super middleweight titles and Saunders’ WBO belt at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Alvarez has fought once at AT&T Stadium, when he knocked out another Brit, Liam Smith, in the ninth round of their fight for Smith’s WBO junior middleweight title in September 2016.
“Excuses, excuses, excuses,” Alvarez said during a recent conference call. “I’m in the USA. I’m Mexican. So, we’re gonna fight in the USA, not in Mexico. You know, it’s just excuses. But I hope we don’t need the judges.”
When asked if he expects to defeat Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) by knockout, Alvarez added that winning inside the distance is his intention.
“I hope like eight, nine, 10 rounds,” Alvarez replied. “That’s what I expect, maybe, you know.”
Saunders, 31, will fight in the U.S. for just the second time. The former WBO middleweight champ will fight outside of the United Kingdom for just the third time since he made his pro debut in February 2009.
Saunders has complained about the selection of judges for the biggest fight of his career because he initially thought there would be one English judge, one Mexican judge and one judge from neither of those countries assigned to it. The Texas Combative Sports Program, which regulates boxing in that state, doesn’t allow judges from outside of the U.S. to score fights there, thus none of the judges are from England or Mexico.
Eddie Hearn, whose company promotes Saunders and Alvarez, has said Saunders and Alvarez knew there would not be a British or Mexican judge assigned to their fight when they signed their contracts.
The outspoken Saunders is far from the first fighter to express concern about judging entering a fight versus Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs).
While not an American, boxing’s biggest star in the United States has benefited from favorable scoring on several occasions.
Judges submitted at least one highly questionable scorecard after his majority decision defeat to Floyd Mayweather, his split-decision victory over Erislandy Lara and his split draw with Gennadiy Golovkin. Each of those fights took place in Las Vegas.
Judge Levi Martinez scored nine rounds for Alvarez versus Cuba’s Lara (117-111), whereas the other two judges had their junior middleweight bout much closer. Dave Moretti and Jerry Roth each scored that fight 115-113 – Moretti for Alvarez and Roth for Lara – in July 2014 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Three years later, judge Adalaide Byrd ridiculously scored Alvarez a 118-110 winner against Golovkin in September 2017 at T-Mobile Arena. Moretti scored Kazakhstan’s Golovkin a 115-113 winner that night and Don Trella had their middleweight title fight even, 114-114.
Las Vegas’ Mayweather convincingly beat Alvarez in September 2013 at MGM Grand Garden Arena, but judge CJ Ross scored their junior middleweight match a draw, 114-114. Judges Craig Metcalfe (117-111) and Moretti (116-112) scored nine and eight rounds for Mayweather, respectively.
All of the aforementioned judges, except Canada’s Metcalfe, are from the United States.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.