With the boxing world understandably moving right ahead to Canelo Alvarez’s next fight with Billy Joe Saunders on May 8 following the Mexican’s easy destruction of Avni Yildirim this past Saturday, Callum Smith broke down the matchup for Sky Sports, and doesn’t sound confident Saunders can pull it off:
“Billy Joe has got movement, he’s a southpaw, a bit awkward and can probably stay out of trouble. But I don’t know if he’s got anything to keep Canelo off, enough power. Canelo is hard to hit clean and I don’t know if Billy Joe has enough to get his respect, and put a dent in him. I see Canelo finding a way. Walking him down, starting to land as the fight goes on. I will always back a Brit but I don’t think anyone beats Canelo.”
Smith, of course, fought Canelo this past December, and was routed over 12 rounds, so he knows exactly the level of opponent Saunders will be facing. Like Smith says, for a while now people have thought maybe Smith’s height and reach would give him a chance, and they didn’t. And some have felt Saunders’ tricky boxing style might give him one, though Billy Joe is a clear underdog in the WBC/WBA/WBO unification fight, which will stream live on DAZN in just over two months.
Saunders (30-0, 14 KO) has never been known as a big puncher, so Smith’s concern for his fellow Brit will be one shared by a lot of people. He has flashed some pop at times, but mostly against lower-level foes; he’s got two stoppage wins in his last eight fights, one against journeyman Charles Adamu in 2018 and the other over Marcelo Coceres in 2019, when it felt like Saunders might badly need the stoppage, and he got it in the 11th round.
More than just not being a big puncher, though, Canelo takes a great shot with this tree trunk neck, and as Smith noted, he’s hard to hit clean anyway. He’s not a Floyd Mayweather or Pernell Whitaker sort of defensive wizard, he’s not that level of pure athlete, but he’s very defensively responsible and smart.
Is Smith right that there’s really just nobody at 168 who can beat Canelo right now? Is Alvarez just too good?