Billy Joe Saunders has offered his first comment since the lone defeat of his career.
The former two-division titlist was not in a position to provide a post-fight interview due to the severity of the injury he suffered in an 8th round stoppage loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez this past Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Saunders literally leaned into a brutal uppercut which fractured his right orbital bone in three places, with his condition leaving head trainer Mark Tibbs no choice but to stop the fight.
“Thanks everyone for [messages]. Broken eye socket and broken cheek in three places,” Saunders revealed Monday via social media. “[O]pertain [Sunday], all went well.”
England’s Saunders (30-1, 14KOs) was competitive with Alvarez through seven rounds of their WBC/WBA/WBO super middleweight title unification bout. Things took a disastrous turn for the brash British southpaw in round eight, when Alvarez (56-1-2, 38KOs) landed the decisive blow, an uppercut which proved so impactful that the Mexican icon and pound-for-pound king knew there was no turning back for his opponent.
“I saw when he broke his cheekbone; I went back to the corner and I told Eddy [Reynoso] that I didn’t think he can continue,” Alvarez revealed during the post-fight press conference. “When you break your cheekbone, you can risk your life and you can’t continue that way.”
Saunders managed to remain on his feet and survive the round, only for Tibbs to inform referee Mark Calo-Oy that his charge was unable to come out for round nine. Moments later, Saunders was led out of the ring by his team and immediately transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in nearby Fort Worth, where he will remain under post-surgery observation through mid-week.
The loss to Alvarez was the first for Saunders as a pro, with the 2008 Great Britain Olympian having previously gone 7-0 in major title fights spanning two weight divisions.
“You win some and lose some,” lamented Saunders. “[I] didn’t feel out of my [l]eague but got caught with a good shot and couldn’t see.
“Thank you all who watched; I’ll be back. [G]od bless you all.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox