MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – The odds obviously aren’t in favor of Billy Joe Saunders knocking out Canelo Alvarez when they meet May 8.
Saunders’ promoter hopes to ensure that a neutral panel of judges will at least afford the undefeated southpaw a realistic chance of upsetting the Mexican superstar on the scorecards. Eddie Hearn – whose company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Alvarez as well as Saunders – thus will insist on the assignment of one British judge to their 12-round fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC and Saunders’ WBO super middleweight titles.
Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) will be a sizable favorite to defeat England’s Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), but the four-division champion has benefited from multiple heavily scrutinized scorecards in Las Vegas over the course of his celebrated career. Hearn revealed that the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, are the two sites seriously under consideration to host the Alvarez-Saunders fight in two months.
“I think we need a neutral panel,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com following Alvarez’s technical knockout of overmatched mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim last month at Hard Rock Stadium. “I think we need a British judge on there. I think we need an American judge on there. But I don’t know. Look, the British judging hasn’t been fantastic lately. And then we just saw another bad scorecard in New Zealand [for the Joseph Parker-Junior Fa fight Friday night], so it happens everywhere.
“And also, when [Alvarez is] the biggest star like that, sometimes you get the benefit of the doubt with the crowd noise in close situations. So, we’ll see. It’s gonna be Las Vegas or Dallas, probably, and we’ll decide within the next week, maybe, two weeks max.”
The three most noteworthy instances of debatable scoring impacting the results of Alvarez’s 12-round fights in Las Vegas were his split-decision victory over Cuba’s Erislandy Lara, his draw with Kazakhstan’s Gennadiy Golovkin in their first fight and one judge scoring Alvarez’s obvious loss to American superstar Floyd Mayweather a draw.
Judge Jerry Roth scored Lara a 115-113 winner over Alvarez, who won their very competitive bout on the cards of judges Levi Martinez (117-111) and Dave Moretti (115-113) in July 2014 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Judge Adalaide Byrd absurdly scored Alvarez a 118-110 victor in his widely disputed split draw with Golovkin in September 2017 at T-Mobile Arena. Moretti scored that bout 115-113 for Golovkin and Don Trella had it even, 114-114.
Mayweather won their junior middleweight match comfortably on the cards of judges Craig Metcalfe (117-111) and Moretti (116-112). Judge CJ Ross strangely scored a fight Mayweather won decisively a draw, 114-114.
None of the aforementioned judges for those three fights are from Alvarez’s home country of Mexico. They’re all residents of the United States, except for Meltcalfe, who is from Canada.
Nevertheless, assigning a British judge to their bout seems more than fair to Hearn, who, like Saunders, resides in England. Twelve of Alvarez’s past 18 fights have taken place in Las Vegas, where Saunders will fight for the first time.
“We will push for a British judge,” Hearn said. “That’s the way it should be because it’s champion versus champion. It’s not just, you know, it’s all Canelo Alvarez. This is a world champion fighting a world champion. So, that’s something that we will be insistent on.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.