Canelo Álvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders: Review

Saul “Canelo” Álvarez reminded the boxing world why he is the #1 pound for pound king after Saturday’s win over his rival, Billy Joe Saunders, in a highly anticipated fight.

For years, Saunders had called out Álvarez, claiming he had the tools to defeat the Mexican Champion. While Álvarez moved up to Middleweight back in 2017, Saunders had captured the WBO title at 160lbs. Later, in 2019, Alvarez decided to jump to Super Middleweight and captured the WBC and WBA titles with wins over Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding.

Saunders moved up to Super Middleweight back in 2019 as well and captured the vacant WBO Super Middleweight by unanimous decision in a win over Shefat Isufi. Holding notable wins against David Lemieux, Willie Monroe Jr, David Eubanks Jr, many wondered if Saunders had the tools to give Alvarez, now the unified WBC and WBA champion in the division, a fight that fans could believe was a threat to the boxing star.

The fight was then made official by Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, taking place at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. This made a huge buzz with the admission of a full capacity crowd, the stadium hosting 78,000 sold-out seats.

Going into the fight, Saunders was looked at as a slick southpaw boxer-puncher with quick feet and a great jab; many traits that have given Canelo trouble in the past with fighters like Erislandy Lara, which was a controversial win in 2014, and his 2013 loss against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fans were eager to see if Canelo, now at the peak of his powers, had made the necessary adjustments against a boxer of that skill set.

Throughout the fight, it was a good chess match of power punches set up by Alvarez, who found his timing from the 3rd round onwards after Saunders gave him two tricky rounds with his jab. Once Canelo had found the timing and precision with his uppercuts, body shots and by cutting the ring off, cornering Saunders, it became evident that though Saunders was the busier fighter and giving Canelo fits, the Mexican’s well set-up strikes were taking a toll on Saunders.

In the 8th round, Canelo landed a perfectly set up uppercut that caught Saunders flush in the eye, backing the British champion down. Canelo hyped the crowd up by continuing to punish Saunders, to the point that Saunders went back to the stool and the corner called it off. Canelo had won by stoppage and Saunders suffered the first defeat of his career. Once the scorecards were shown, Saunders was behind on the judges’ scorecards with two judges scoring the fight 78–74, and one at 77-75, all in favour of Alvarez.

It was later revealed that Saunders had suffered multiple fractures on his orbital bone and was in need of surgery. Canelo Álvarez, meanwhile, now having the WBC, WBA, WBO and Ring Magazine title all in his possession, is now just one championship shy of becoming the first-ever Undisputed Super Middleweight Champion. With Caleb Plant under Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions promotion, holding the IBF Title, one can only hope the fight can be made come September or December.

Written by Julio Monteros


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