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BETTING BOXING: How Should You Play Canelo vs Saunders?

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SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Some money has come in on Billy Joe Saunders and I suspect more people will be tempted to pick the undefeated underdog before the first bell sounds. Canelo is now at -670 on SugarHouse. This is somewhat similar to what happened when Canelo fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Overall though, nothing I have seen at the weigh in or post weigh in changes any of my original analysis. I still expect Saunders’ main goal will be to go the distance and he will fight mostly a defensive first fight looking to do just that. And with that style I do see him getting to the finish line. But it will be all Canelo who will win a wide UD.

Canelo by points after 12 is still +150 and that is the play I recommend.

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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KO’s) will look to further unify the 168 pound weight class when he faces fellow belt holder Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KO’s), headlining a DAZN televised card from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

As of this writing Canelo is listed as a sizable -715 favorite whereas Saunders can be had for the underdog price tag of +475. The over/under is currently listed at 10 ½ rounds with the over coming in at -152 and the under at +115. Finally there is a prop bet for Canelo to win by points (after 12 rounds) at +150. Odds, by the way, are courtesy of SugarHouse Casino.

Quick Analysis

I want to take a different approach to this analysis as so much has already been written about this fight. I see realistically three potential scenarios for this fight. Of course we could see an outlier but in all probability one of these three scenarios plays out on Saturday.

The first scenario I see is a replay of De La Hoya-Camacho where Canelo is De La Hoya and Saunders is Camacho. Or a more recent example would be just how Canelo-Smith played out in December.

In this scenario Saunders goes into an early defensive shell with his main goal to go the distance and avoid being hurt. Every now and then he throws something but this is largely one way traffic with Canelo in total control but being unable to penetrate the tight defense of Saunders. The fight goes the distance with Canelo essentially winning every round and getting an easy unanimous decision victory.

The second possible scenario is we see something like Canelo-Jacobs. In this scenario Saunders is more aggressive than what I outlined earlier but still mostly defensive, showing a ton of respect for the counter-punching ability of Canelo. Saunders has moments and keeps some rounds close but still focuses a lot on defense, and avoiding the big shots from Canelo. We don’t see a whitewash here but Canelo still easily outworks Saunders to earn a unanimous decision victory.

So in the first two scenarios I do see the fight going rounds and I do think these are the two most realistic ways this fight plays out.

Finally we cannot dismiss the possibility that the Saunders that fought David Lemieux shows up in the ring on Saturday. This version of Saunders comes out aggressive and willing to engage while also trying to maintain his distance. But by doing so Saunders would certainly open himself up to Canelo’s body attack as well as potentially clean counters upstairs.

Fighting in this manner would give Saunders his best chance to win. Can Saunders emulate his performance against Lemieux? It’s doubtful as Canelo’s speed is on a different level than most fighters (and especially when compared to Lemieux). Canelo will essentially be able to land counters on Saunders where Lemieux was swinging at air. 

If this version of Saunders shows up there is no doubt he should have his moments. Enough to win rounds? It’s just hard for me to see given the fact that Canelo will likely be landing his share of hard counters to counteract the work of Saunders. Maybe Saunders makes some rounds close but ultimately I just don’t see him being able to win the majority of rounds.

I also don’t think Saunders has the power to hurt Canelo. In addition to all his other attributes Canelo has shown a world class chin (arguably the best chin in the sport today). Thus I can’t see Saunders landing anything of significance to get the respect of Canelo. 

On the flip side there is no doubt that Canelo can hurt Saunders. And if a more aggressive Saunders shows up then there would be a strong possibility this does not make it to the cards.

So here are my final thoughts. I think it’s unlikely we see the Saunders from the Lemieux fight. Even if we do, it would still be an uphill battle to beat Canelo. More realistically one of the first two scenarios that I outlined above play out in the ring on Saturday.

I can see this fight going rounds and going the distance. In my opinion I think the most likely scenario here is that we see Saunders covering up and playing defense for twelve rounds looking to get this fight to the final bell. As such my preferred wager is the Canelo by points (after twelve rounds) which is currently listed at +150. I also wouldn’t fault those who want to be more conservative and simply bet the over 10 ½ rounds at -152.

Undercard Thoughts

I was digging to find something on the Canelo-Saunders undercard that stood out to me. But all I see are a bunch of favorites who should easily prevail in showcase type fights. 

So how do we play this if at all? Generally I like to spread my bets out to mitigate risk. My goal being to grind out a profit when all is said and done. 

But there are exceptions to this rule. This week for example I really like the Canelo by decision prop. That is where most of my bankroll is going. 

In an effort to spread out just a little though I will get a tad creative with a smaller portion of my bankroll. One way or the other I fully expect Canelo to prevail on Saturday. So I will have him, even at his large price tag, as a parlay piece on this card.

I also really like Souleymane Cissokho (12-0, 8 KO’s) to easily prevail against Kieron Conway (16-1-1, 3 KO’s) in their ten round scheduled 154 pound contest. Conway is aggressive with limited defense and no punching power. He is not a slickster in the ring and will look to be first. 

The problem for Conway is that Cissokho is a very good counterpuncher with quick hands and heavy handed power. Conway is tough but won’t be able to get Cissokho’s respect to keep him at bay. As such Cissokho is going to land early and often on Conway. I feel very confident in Cissokho winning and will be adding him to the parlay at -335. As a side note if a prop is offered for Cissokho to win by ko/tko I  would back anything at or near even money (and a bonus if you can get plus money on that prop).

Finally I like Elwin Soto (18-1, 12 KO’s) to easily defend his WBO 108 pound against former 105 pound champion Katsunari Takayama (32-8, 12 KO’s). 

I am sure some remember Takayama from his 2014 war against Francisco Rodriguez Jr. Takayama would retire two years later but ended that retirement this past December with a six round unanimous decision win against Reiya Konishi. 

Essentially I think Takayama, now 37, has seen his better days. How much does he have left in the tank? Not much, I am thinking and the 24 year old Soto should find him easy pickings on Saturday. I understand I am not going out on a limb here but see Soto as “safe” enough to add to a parlay even at -1430.

Final Ticket

Canelo Alvarez to win by points (after 12 rounds) at +150 – $34 (would win $51)

Canelo Alvarez/Souleymane Cissokho/Elwin Soto parlay at -175 – $15 (would win $8.79)

Good luck to everyone!

Looking Back

As always in an effort to maintain full transparency I will recap the results from last week’s picks. Below was the final ticket.

Arreola win – $5 (would win $45)

Parker win – $10 (would win $5.49)

Ramos win – $10 (would win $5.71)

Mthalane win – $10 (would win $6.58)

Parker/Ramos parlay – $5 (would win $7.17)

Parker/Ramos/Taylor/Conlan parlay – $6 (would win $16.23)

Finally a profitable week. 

I thought for a second that Arreola might be able to pull the upset of Ruiz but alas that didn’t happen. Ruiz showed he is serious about this return and can once again be a player in the heavyweight division.

The other setback was Moruti Mthalane dropping a twelve round unanimous decision to Sunny Edwards. Edwards boxed brilliantly from the opening bell and though Mthalane had some moments, especially in the second half of the fight, Edwards showed he belongs on the world stage with a masterclass performance.

The others all hit, including the parlays. The total invested for the week was $46. The bring back was $59.60 bringing the bankroll up a little bit to $978.15.

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