Billy Joe Saunders admits that performing the way he did during a mostly easy points win over Martin Murray won’t be nearly enough to beat Canelo Alvarez on May 8.
Saunders doesn’t think Alvarez’s most recent performance did anything to help him get ready for their fight, either. The brash British southpaw deemed the Mexican icon’s three-round domination of Avni Yildirim “pretty embarrassing” during a recent appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams weekdays on DAZN and SiriusXM.
Alvarez was a 50-1 favorite versus Turkey’s Yildirim, who was the mandatory challenger for Alvarez’s WBC super middleweight title. Their scheduled 12-round fight unfolded as the oddsmakers suggested February 27 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The 30-year-old Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) dropped a reluctant Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) with a perfectly delivered right hand in the third round. Yildirim reached his feet and made it to the end of that round, but his trainer, Joel Diaz, wouldn’t allow him to start the fourth round.
“You’re only as good as your last performance,” Saunders said during a brief interview with co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes. “My last performance was Martin Murray. Was that performance good enough to beat Canelo Alvarez? Probably not. Definitely not. You know, we couldn’t go too much on Alvarez’s last performance because this fella just went in there and he jacked [around] for three rounds. You know, it was a bit embarrassing, to be honest with you. So, I don’t embarrass myself about money. I wouldn’t do that.”
The Alvarez-Saunders fight was officially announced by promoter Eddie Hearn in the ring right after Alvarez’s annihilation of Yildirim.
“He got the job done,” Saunders said, “no injuries – that’s the main thing – against a bum, and we move on to the 8th.”
Alvarez and Saunders will fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC and Saunders’ WBO 168-pound championships May 8. The site for their title unification fight will be either the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas or the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The 31-year-old Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) remained in contention to reschedule his fight with Alvarez when he defeated England’s Murray (39-6-1, 17 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-round title fight December 4 at Wembley Arena in London. Alvarez and Saunders were supposed to fight last May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but the card was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.