The Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders fight would’ve been announced already if not for the turmoil the coronavirus has caused throughout the sports world.
Organizers had planned to officially announce this week that Alvarez would challenge Saunders for his WBO super middleweight championship May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Alvarez, and Matchroom Boxing, Saunders’ promoter, also had planned to hold a press conference Tuesday, March 17 in Los Angeles to start spreading the word about Alvarez-Saunders.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the co-promoters, along with executives for DAZN, are at least considering pushing back Alvarez-Saunders from May 2. It’s still possible that they’ll fight May 2, based on discussions they’ve had throughout this week, but the event will take place just seven weeks from Saturday night if it remains on that date.
Mexico’s Alvarez and England’s Saunders already have begun training for a May 2 bout. Promoters are concerned, though, that if this pandemic worsens in the United States over the next few weeks that it’ll significantly impact ticket sales even on Cinco de Mayo weekend, traditionally reserved for big boxing events in Las Vegas.
They are not currently considering holding the Alvarez-Saunders card without fans in attendance. That could become a temporary practice in boxing in the coming weeks if states within the U.S. and other countries continue to limit the amount of people that can gather in one place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Decision-makers involved in Alvarez-Saunders feel there’s still time to announce that fight for May 2. If the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS seasons are interrupted longer than anticipated, however, it’ll become more likely that Alvarez-Saunders gets pushed back to a later date.
Whenever they fight, Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) will attempt to add another super middleweight title to his impressive resume.
The 29-year-old Alvarez won the WBA world super middleweight crown from Rocky Fielding in December 2018, but England’s Fielding (28-2, 16 KOs) was the WBA’s secondary title-holder at 168 pounds when Alvarez stopped him in the third round at Madison Square Garden in New York.
England’s Callum Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) is considered the WBA’s legitimate super middleweight champion. Smith had stopped Fielding in the first round three years before Alvarez beat him.
Alvarez considered facing Smith next, but ultimately made a deal to fight Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs).
The left-handed Saunders knocked out Argentina’s Marcelo Coceres in the 11th round of his last fight, November 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Saunders was down on one scorecard before he floored Coceres (28-1-1, 15 KOs) three times and stopped him in the 11th round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.