Saunders Aiming for More Than Just Super Middle Titles vs Canelo
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sun, 02 May 2021
The 2010s can be called as the British or UK Era of Boxing.
The United Kingdom produced about two dozen world boxing champions in the last ten years where there were years it topped those of the US, Mexico and Japan in number.
Such success was particularly notable in the heavyweights, the super middleweights, the junior featherweights and the bantamweights where at least two Britons held world titles at a given time.
Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg forged a rivalry at super bantamweight, Paul Butler, Jamie McDonnell and Ryan Burnett won world crowns at bantamweight, Callum Smith and George Groves were at it at super middleweight
However, entering the new decade, the 2020s, Great Britain is down to just half a dozen reigning world champions although it holds all the belts at heavyweight through Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury and two of the four major belts at super welterweight through Josh Taylor. Sunny Edwards is the latest to win a world boxing title, beating Moruti Mthalane for the IBF flyweight belt recently.
The decimation of UK's world boxing title possessions at the middleweights can be attributed to just one man: Saul Canelo Alvarez.
On the way to establishing himself as the planet's best pound for pound fighter, the Mexican redhead claimed the scalps of three UK champions, namely Liam Williams at junior middleweight, Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith both at super middleweight.
Former WBO middleweight titlist and currently WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders therefore is going for more than the WBC, WBA, IBF and the Ring lineal world supermiddleweight titles as he goes up against unified champion Alvarez next weekend.
He will be aiming to revenge the title defeats of his three compatriots whom Alvarez disposed off in a total of 24 rounds with only Smith hearing the final bell.
Saunders will also try to restore UK's respectability at 168 lbs lost by Smith when he was beaten by Alvarez months after he had won the WBC and Ring titles by knocking out Groves in the all UK finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in the division.
The question is: Can BJS pull it off?
Recall that when both Saunders and Canelo were still at middleweight where they were both world titleholders and were being pitted, it was Saunders who blinked and made himself very scarce.
True, BJS has significant wins in his record, guys as Chris Eubanks, Jr., Andy Lee, David Lemieux and Martin Murray.
But Canelo Alvarez has a more impressive resume, including disputed draw with and decision over Gennady Golovkin, knockout win over Sergei Kovalev and unanimous decision over Callum Smith.
What makes Saunders believe he has a chance now against Alvarez?
Aside from the motivation of restoring British pride particularly in the middleweights where historically, UK had success from the time of Sugar Ray Robinson, Saunders also believes he has the style to diffuse and defeat the surging Mexican superstar.
In an exclusive interview, Saunders said he would be willing to lay his own life on the line if that's what it will take to defeat Canelo in what he said as the greatest challenge of his career.
Saunders and Alvarez are set to meet this Saturday at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas with Canelo's WBC, WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine titles and Saunder's WBO belt on the line.
But two heavyweight greats have differing opinions about BJS's chances.
Iron’ Mike Tyson discussed the bout on the latest episode of his Hotboxin’ podcast. ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ was quick to dismiss Saunders’ chances of winning.
Tyson explained: “He’s knocked out right now, he’s knocked out already. I swear, he’s knocked out.”
Current WBC and lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, is one huge name in the sport who strongly disagrees with the opinion of his namesake. A long time friend and supporter of Saunders, Fury wrote: “Billy Joe Saunders is 100% mentally in the right place.
“He knows what he has to do and he will do it, he will rise up [to the top] and claim greatness. I was wrote off many times in the past and have always come through.
"We are cut from the same cloth, same breed of animals. Canelo has fought them all but never a Fighting Gypsy, we are a different breed of animal to anything he has come across before."
Will BJS deliver or will he come up a BS of a performance?
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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