Billy Joe Saunders is well aware of the type of fighting styles to have previously troubled Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
On just one occasion did it result in a loss, when a 23-year-old Alvarez was outboxed by an all-time great in Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Sept. 2013. The Mexican superstar also had his hands full in his two-fight set with Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 35KOs), who obviously fights nothing like England’s Saunders (30-0, 14KOs).
That said, the two-division and reigning WBO super middleweight titlist doesn’t take much away from the success enjoyed by Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara in their separate bouts with the current pound-for-pound king. Both boxers–southpaws, like Saunders—know their way around a ring, with Alvarez struggling before ultimately scoring decision wins.
“They didn’t win, did they,” Saunders quipped at the attempted comparison in styles while discussing his upcoming showdown with Alvarez. “So, I don’t think movement is key but I’m sure it helps. It’s the way you move.
“I know I have to be more clever in this fight. My movement helps me because if one of them big bombs is coming, I’ll need to move out the way. So obviously it helps.”
Saunders puts his WBO belt at stake versus Guadalajara’s Alvarez (55-1-2, 37KOs), who defends his WBC/WBA titles in their three-belt super middleweight title unification bout May 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Alvarez attempts the second defense of his unified title reign after becoming a four-division titlist following his 12-round virtual shutout of unbeaten Callum Smith last December at Alamodome in San Antonio. The DAZN-streamed event will mark Saunders’ third attempted title defense and second career fight in the United States.
The unbeaten Brit showed flashes of brilliance in his most recent outing, a 12-round unanimous decision win over countryman Martin Murray last December in London. More than one year prior came Saunders’ near-disastrous stateside debut, overcoming an uneven performance to knock out unbeaten Argentine contender Marcelo Coceres in the 11th round in their Nov. 2019 title fight in Los Angeles.
The latter bout was in line with Saunders’ history of fighting down to his level of competition at times. He has also risen to the occasion, such as his 12-round nod over Andy Lee to win the WBO middleweight title in Dec. 2015, along with a showcase performance in a successful defense versus former middleweight titlist David Lemieux in Dec. 2017.
There is no greater opportunity to rise to the occasion than in a superfight with the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter. Saunders believes the key to taking down the king comes down to a simple formula.
“By being Billy Joe Saunders,” insists the 30-year-old southpaw.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox