ARLINGTON, Texas – Canelo Alvarez laughed when he was asked about Billy Joe Saunders’ demand for a bigger ring.
Alvarez gladly gave in when Saunders threatened to withdraw from their super middleweight title unification fight over the size of the ring in which they’ll box Saturday night at AT&T Stadium. Promoter Eddie Hearn admitted he was surprised how quickly Alvarez agreed to use a bigger ring when Hearn approached him about the problem earlier this week.
The 30-year-old Alvarez insists he didn’t give it a second thought.
England’s Saunders requested a ring 24 feet-by-24 feet inside the ropes. They settled on a more reasonable 22-by-22 ring, instead of the 20-by-20 squared circle Alvarez believed they’d use before Saunders refused to fight in one that small.
“I don’t care, really,” Alvarez told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Thursday at Live! by Loews, a hotel near AT&T Stadium. “I’m pretty sure he’s never fought in a 24-foot ring. But if he wants all of the Cowboys Stadium, OK, I’ll give it to him. It’s OK. Don’t worry.”
A bigger ring should benefit Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) because the unbeaten WBO 168-pound champion relies more on his boxing ability and movement than Mexico’s Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs), who owns the WBA and WBC belts. Saunders dominated David Lemieux in a 20-by-20 ring in December 2017, though, which was among the reasons Alvarez anticipated their ring would be that same size for this fight.
Hearn informed BoxingScene.com that Saunders has never boxed inside a ring bigger than 20-by-20 in any of his first 30 professional fights (https://www.boxingscene.com/hearn-saunders-never-boxed-ring-this-big-canelo-no-problem-with-it--157446).
“Normally, it’s 20 feet,” Alvarez said. “I don’t think he’s ever fought in a bigger ring than this one. He wanted 24. I really don’t care. I know Saturday I’m gonna go in with the mentality of winning. Like I said, if he wants the entire Cowboys Stadium, he can have it.”
Hearn took Saunders seriously when the two-division champion threatened to pull out of the fight early this week. Alvarez never believed Saunders was willing to walk away from by far the biggest purse of his career and a chance to win two more super middleweight titles.
“I don’t believe that,” Alvarez said. “It’s a lot of money. But it is what it is. I’m here to win, and I’m focused on Saturday night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.