By: Steven Galeano
As Saturday night looms, Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders finally went face-to-face Wednesday at the final press conference. Fight week has been eventful as Team Saunders threatened to pull out due to a ring size dispute, yet fight fans can look forward to the long-awaited 12-round Super Middleweight unification on May 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, live worldwide on DAZN.
Fight week has proven to be controversial, beginning with Team Saunders claiming both sides agreed to fight in a 24 ft ring. The Saunders camp allegedly learned on fight week in Texas that they would instead fight in an 18 or 20 ft ring, much to their dismay. They further expressed that if the inner ring was any less than 22 ft, they would fly back home. Saunders went to the extent of missing Tuesday’s media day, which Alvarez attended solo.
After discussions behind the scenes, the ring issue has been resolved, although the exact size has not been revealed.
Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) has previously expressed frustration with Saunders, long accusing his opponent of searching for excuses and already showing signs of defeat. Saunders voiced his disapproval of the entire process, one of which involves the judges for Saturday night.
No judge from Texas, a state notably linked with dubious scorecards in big fights, was assigned to the main event. Nevada’s Tim Cheatham, California’s Max De Luca and Connecticut’s Glenn Feldman will judge Alvarez and Saunders 12-round title tilt.
Ring size and officiating aside, England’s Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) faces a tall order Saturday night. When in great rhythm, Saunders poses a slickness from the southpaw stance that would simply trouble any elite fighter. Saunders figures to be perfect for 36 minutes if he stands any chance of troubling Mexico’s Alvarez, arguably the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world today.
With potentially 70,000 fans in attendance, Alvarez will enjoy a massive home advantage. A raucous crowd cheering for every move Canelo makes further causes Saunders’ gameplan to be a much more daunting task. Saunders has long called for the fight, and the notion that he could beat Canelo has diminished over the years leading up to Saturday night. His two most recent performances have left much to be desired, yet he fully believes the time to accomplish this feat could not have been better.
Alvarez was last seen in the ring just over two months ago on February 27, dismantling overmatched WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-3, 12KOs) over three one-sided rounds in Miami. The bout took place only ten weeks after Alvarez defeated England’s Callum Smith (27-1, 19KOs) for Smith’s WBA/RING titles and the vacant WBC title on December 19 in San Antonio. Saunders was last seen in the ring on December 4, when he soundly outboxed fellow Brit Martin Murray (39-6-1, 17 KOs), who retired shortly after the bout.
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