Some 70,000 plus people will be in AT&T Stadium Saturday night to see Canelo Alvarez raise his record to 56-1-2. The victim will be one Billy Joe Saunders, a skilled pugilist who also happens to be the most sophomoric joker in the entire combat sports realm.
At the Thursday press conference in Texas to hype the event, which will screen in the US on DAZN, Saunders won himself the definition of a hollow victory, when he pulled a school-kid stunt on the Mexican leader in class.
The two men did a staredown, and posed for photogs, who snapped their shutters dutifully. Saunders went to shake hands with Alvarez, who didn’t seem inclined to indulge. He offered a fist, for a fist bump, and WBO 168 champ Saunders put out a fist, then yanked it away, and got very pleased with himself. Canelo had the look of an exasperated but resigned father of a naughty toddler, who is engaging in defiant gestures.
During the staredown, the WBA and WBC 168 titlist Canelo looked his typical self, his game-face giving an aura of lock-down confidence. Like he knows from stem to stern, tip to top, that he will have his hand raised on Saturday, when he seeks to add to his super middleweight belt collection, by snagging the WBO version.
Saunders hasn’t given off the vibe of a 30-0 fighter, having drawn the scorn of Alvarez for squawking about ring side. That deal got settled Thursday, they will do battle in a 22 by 22 ring, which will give the Traveller more space to slide away in an attempt to evade the artillery from the red head. TRY to evade, I should say.
Alvarez mocked Saunders for trying to control the real estate in that manner.
You saw during the faceoff that Saunders kept his sun glasses on, and looked jittery. Not so Canelo–he looked deep into the soul of Saunders, quietly confident that the underdog has been giving off the scent of an animal that knows he won’t be able to measure up come fight night.
The takeaway from the group-round props is that oddsmakers via Sports Betting Dime have a varied opinion how this fight is going to play out, aside from Canelo winning. They have set the odds of a Canelo stoppage in rounds 1 to 3 at +1567, rounds 4 to 6 at +617, rounds 7 to 9 at +408, and rounds 10 to 12 at +550 with a victory by decision at +137, on average. In other words, they do not give Canelo more than a 20% chance of ending the fight in any quarter. The shortest group-round odds for Saunders are roughly +5100 in rounds 7 to 9.
My contention, that Saunders is a dead man walking, who has been working on his excuses for a couple months now, hasn’t dented enthusiasm among patrons.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said that on Thursday, tix sales went over the amount convened to watch Muhammad Ali get back his title from Leon Spinks, in the Louisiana Superdome, on Sept. 15, 1978. 63,352 watched The Greatest do his thing, and more than that will see Canelo prove that his skill set is pretty darn sublime.
Will that skill set be dimmed by the “gypsy magic” spoken of by Billy’s father Tommy, who took to the stage for the presser as comfortably dressed as I’ve ever seen for such an affair? “There’s a spell being cast,” he informed those gathered.
Canelo took some queries from presser host Eddie Hearn, and made sure to note that he feels happy that this fight will be something to celebrate, after the world has battled the COVID pandemic since November 2019.
Hearn said he thought he noted more of an edge in the Mexican than we’ve seen before. “I’ve been involved in a lot of big fights, and this is just another day at the office, I come to win, and like I said, boxing is my life, and I come to win,” Canelo stated.
Saunders insisted that he’s different, he will be more ready to succeed than many others who have tried to test Canelo of late. “I’m here for a reason, and there’s no other reason for me to be here apart from WIN. It’s not about fame, it’s not about anything else, not about publicity, WIN. And I don’t think we’ve had somebody come to win, for a very, very long time. Had a lot of people turn up in, fly in, collect checks, and fly out, but we haven’t ‘ad the heart and soul and IQ that I’ll bring to the table and to the ring to win.”
Time will tell…but I can clue you in fully now…His behavior, in various spots, indicates that Billy Joe Saunders has questions about his ability to compete and defeat Canelo. As well he should…