Billy Joe Saunders was reportedly lined up to face Canelo Alvarez on May 2 of this year before the coronavirus lockdowns went into effect across the world and shut down the boxing schedule for three months.
The 30-year-old Saunders (29-0, 14 KO), who holds the WBO super middleweight title, figured to be in the mix for Canelo’s September return, but withdrew from consideration recently. Saunders decided he wouldn’t take a pay cut while Canelo gets a full normal purse, which doesn’t look great now that Golden Boy are openly saying Canelo will have to take a pay cut to fight in September. (That said, you can never fully trust the communication between Canelo and Golden Boy as expressed in the media through the promoter. Canelo may wind up not fighting depending on the pay cut presented.)
Golden Boy’s Bernard Hopkins admits that Saunders’ decision to withdraw from consideration surprised him, saying that opportunities like this are never guaranteed:
“It did [surprise me], because Billy Joe Saunders is not a rookie in the game. ... He missed out and there’s no guarantee, especially in the world of boxing, that Billy [Joe] Saunders will get a call from anybody, pertaining a world champion, the biggest spotlight you can get, pandemic or not..”
Saunders says he’s looking to fight a tune-up in October and then do a big fight in December, possibly against WBO middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade. That’s a good fight in terms of level and was supposed to happen in 2018 before Saunders failed a drug test and vacated the WBO title before he could be stripped, which Andrade then won against Walter Kautondokwa. We know Andrade wants a big fight, and he’s said he still wants to fight Billy Joe, so that could happen. They’re both with Matchroom and DAZN, it should be easy enough.
As for Canelo, they had an offer in with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, but he’s finalizing a deal to fight WBC middleweight titleholder Jermall Charlo instead. Callum Smith wants it, John Ryder wants it, Tureano Johnson and Jason Quigley are interested. It’ll all depend on what the offer really is.