Eddie Hearn is convinced Canelo Alvarez will fight Billy Joe Saunders or Callum Smith next.
Hearn would welcome either bout because his company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Saunders and Smith. If, for some reason, Alvarez decides to fight someone other than Saunders or Smith when he returns to the ring May 2, Hearn has an intriguing, albeit less lucrative alternative for those two super middleweight champions.
“Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders obviously both want the Canelo Alvarez fight,” Hearn told IFL TV during a lengthy interview posted recently to its YouTube channel. “And they’re ready to go. But if neither of them gets it, they should unify against each other immediately.”
Saunders, 30, holds the WBO super middleweight title. Smith, 29, owns the WBA “super” 168-pound crown.
Both British champions are coming off subpar performances in fights in which they were heavy favorites.
Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) was down on one scorecard when the southpaw dropped Argentina’s Marcelo Coceres (28-1-1, 15 KOs) three times and stopped him in the 11th round November 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) struggled despite defeating John Ryder (28-5, 16 KOs) comfortably on all three scorecards November 23 at Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Facing each other at least would provide Saunders and Smith the movitation required to get up for a meaningful fight.
“When you look at Callum, very close fight with John Ryder,” Hearn said. “I think he’s at the stage in his career now where he needs those big tests and those fights that are really gonna get him motivated. I feel that Billy Joe is in exactly the same boat. Went to America, actually I had him losing that fight. I think he was behind on one card and up on two. It was very, very close. Put together a brilliant knockout to get Coceres out of there. If he would’ve gone through that fight and won on points in a close fight, it would’ve been a real kick in the nuts. He come through with a great knockout.
“And Billy and Callum, you know, I said to [trainer] Joe Gallagher the other day, I said to MTK [Global] the other day, ‘Just to let you know, I’m offering these guys to Canelo. So, whatever they come back with, I’m gonna be completely honest with you guys. There’s no, you know, matching one up against the other, then playing one off against the other. I’ll be totally up front.’ ”
Facing either Saunders or Smith would afford Alvarez an opportunity to eliminate doubt about his claim as a four-division champion. Mexico’s Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) won the WBA’s world super middleweight title by annihilating England’s Rocky Fielding in December 2018 at Madison Square Garden, but Smith is widely viewed as the WBA’s real 168-pound champion.
“Basically, you’re on the end of a phone, waiting for the golden call, to tell you who Canelo wants to fight you next,” Hearn said. “And if he doesn’t fight one of those guys next, then they should fight each other, and they should unify. But I believe [Canelo] will [fight Saunders or Smith]. So, the answer is, what does the other person do?
“If you’re Billy Joe Saunders, do you go and try to get a unification fight with Caleb Plant or David Benavidez? For me, if the Callum Smith or the Canelo fight wasn’t there, I’d probably rather see him drop down to 160 and fight Demetrius Andrade in what would be a big fight in America as well. There’s other fights out there for him. There’s the Gennadiy Golovkin fight at 168 as well.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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