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Billy Joe Saunders: Canelo is great, but I have the tools to beat him

The super middleweight titleholder is still hoping to face the Mexican superstar this year.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Billy Joe Saunders was looking set to face Canelo Alvarez on May 2 in Las Vegas on DAZN, but the COVID-19 pandemic took that fight and so many others off the schedule.

There is now again an open question as to whom Canelo will face when he returns, which may happen behind closed doors in September, and Saunders is aggressively angling to keep his spot as the lead dog for that opportunity.

WBO super middleweight titleholder Saunders (29-0, 14 KO) believes he has the tools to beat Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO), which would definitely upset various apple carts.

“I’m in this sport because I want to be the best,” Saunders told Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew on Talk the Talk. “I’ve been banging on about it long enough now. I believe I’ve got the tools to beat him. He’s an exceptionally great fighter, one of the best. But to get that name, to be the best, you have to beat them sort of people. At the minute, he’s the cash cow, he’s the big man out there. Everybody in the boxing world knows him. He’s the man I would love to beat.”

Saunders said that when he was starting to get his pro career going, starting back in 2009, he had his eyes on two fighters around his weight.

“It was David Lemieux and Canelo Alvarez. They were the two I thought, ‘Right, them boys are the ones I’m gonna cross paths with,’” he said. “And when they said, ‘Oh, you’re gonna fight Lemieux,’ I was thinking, ‘Oh shit meself, Bill, fucking hell, I’ve got to go to Canada.’

“But I need that, and Canelo’s the man who can wake that lion up inside me, same as David Lemieux did. Once that’s woken, I know it will take a world class athlete and someone like him to beat me. I know I’m on my game, I’m fit, l know I can go in there and beat him, if I can get the decision. That’s the only thing that’s always in my mind.”

The 30-year-old Saunders last fought in November, having to rally a bit to stop unheralded challenger Marcelo Coceres in the 11th round. More recently, the British Boxing Board of Control suspended his license due to some distasteful social media posting, but frankly that is not expected to be a particularly big hurdle for the fighter or his team once boxing resumes.

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