*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change
While most of boxing’s biggest stars bicker over details or avoid opponents completely, the main man is blasting out every rival remotely close to him.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is making his third appearance in five months this weekend when he looks to unify the super middleweight division against British champ Billy Joe Saunders and we’ve got the best three picks to make Paddy pay.
The ginger maestro is numero uno on almost everyone’s pound-for-pound list and in his 58 fights since he turned professional at age 15 he’s only lost once – to Floyd Mayweather, when he was 23 and ‘Money’ at the peak of his powers. The Mexican is a magician in defence and a savage in attack, and he’s a big favourite this Saturday.
For his part, slick southpaw Saunders is unbeaten and dedicated like never before. The man from the Hatfield area demonstrated he is motivated by legacy rather than dinero when he risked missing out on a huge payday by turning down the Canelo fight last year as he felt he didn’t have enough time to prepare to win.
Alvarez is the rightful favourite and he’s produced a series of stunning performances in the last few years. The only part of his game that has become less impressive in recent bouts is his KO ratio: since moving to 160lbs and above, Canelo has only KO’d three of his last eight opponents.
In the opposite corner, Billy Joe has never been knocked down, let alone stopped. The Brit’s defensive skills are almost as renowned as Canelo’s and he’s got the guts to match. It’s a fair bet that this fight is going the distance, and in the States with three American judges you have to favour Alvarez – the Latin legend got two favourable results against Gennady Golokvin and even got a draw on one of the judge’s cards when he got schooled by Mayweather.
If there are any uncertainties about this fight they are around Saunders. The lefty’s best results were a split decision win against a young Chris Eubank Jr in 2014 and tight points victory over Andy Lee in 2015. Saunders has never really looked like losing but he’s also never been in with anybody near Alvarez’s ability.
We haven’t seen Billy under serious pressure and nobody will have gone in on his body like Canelo – if Saunders’ years of not living the life have left any frailties the Mexican will find them.
One thing we do know about ‘BJS’ is that he’s not the biggest puncher, and we have also seen the rivals that have taken Alvarez the distance have all had enough pop to keep the ‘P4P’ champ at bay.
I can see Canelo having a look at Saunders early doors but if he feels the Brit’s power and thinks he can walk through it, it could be a short night. Guadalajara’s finest took out an under-cooked Sergey Kovalev late on but his other two KO’s in the heavier divisions have come in round 3 – and you can get hefty odds on another very quick finish.
I can also see the case for Saunders causing boxing’s biggest star real issues. In 2008, an 18-year-old Billy Joe went to the Olympics and only lost to the eventual silver medallist, the classy Cuban Carlos Banteaux Suarez who Saunders had actually beaten earlier in the year.
Other than Mayweather and Golovkin, Alvarez also struggled to get to grips with Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout – slick southpaws similar to Saunders. The Brit has already announced that his plan is to stay on his toes, and if Canelo gets close Billy knows how to make it rough and messy.
I can’t help but hear echoes of when Saunders’ best pal Tyson Fury went to Germany as a massive underdog but took all the titles from Wladimir Klitschko. Fury is in Texas to support his mate and I’m sure he’ll devote some of his time to being a nuisance to Team Canelo.
For the man from Mexico, this is his third fight in five months and, although he’s a gym hound, even the biggest boxing nuts need time to recover, relax and get their full motivation back. It’s too far-fetched to think Saunders can get a decision in Arlington against Alvarez, but he might be able to get a draw.
Canelo Alvarez v Billy Joe Saunders tips
- Floyd Mayweather awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom for slapping Jake Paul
- Logan Paul agrees to have sh*te knocked out of him by Mayweather
- Joshua v Fury tips: Paddy’s early best bets for mega heavyweight unification fight