Would it really be a Canelo event without some sort of judging controversy? Not if his opponent Billy Joe Saunders has anything to say about it. In an interview with IFL TV on April 18, Saunders expressed frustration with the selection process of the official judges in their upcoming bout.
“I did this deal on the basis of an English judge, American judge and Mexican judge — then when [Eddie Hearn] come here the other day he said there were no English officials allowed, so you know I’ve still not got to the bottom of that yet.”
In his own interview with IFL TV several days later, Eddie Hearn tried to clear up some of the confusion.
“Maybe where the problem is when we originally discussed the fight we talked about having a British judge, a Mexican judge, a American judge. Now we’re just having three neutral judges. But the contract that Billy Joe signed clearly states no Mexican, no British — neutral judges. And they will have an opportunity to look at those judges, and if they have an objection they can do that to the commission.”
How to Watch Canelo vs Saunders
It’s hard to fault Saunders for his concern over judging in a fight against Canelo (especially in Texas), but I don’t see how giving each fighter a hometown judge does much beyond putting additional pressure on the third “neutral” official to get it right. In an interview with ESPN Deportes, Canelo brushed off Saunders’ complaints.
“Losers always make excuses, and always ahead of time.”
Ironically, Saunders’ appears irritated that Canelo himself is thinking “ahead of time” about a fall unification with Caleb Plant.
“I’m a bit disappointed because he’s already planning venues for the Caleb Plant fight.”
Saunders hints that this is proof of something fishy in the works.
“When it comes to people making plans before this plan’s over. That’s two things; it’s a scandal and it’s fixed already, and the results already made. Because we know there’s a lot of corruption in boxing, so everybody knows that. So let’s just say that the results fixed and made already before this big fight. Or it’s gonna be a fair shake of the dice and I can definitely shatter other plans.”
Whether it’s gamesmanship, legitimate concern about impartiality, or simply an attempt to drum up conversation about the fight, these comments don’t bode well for Saunders’ performance in the ring. He’ll need to be fully dialed in to be competitive and make an honest attempt at an upset, so for his sake (and ours) let’s hope he can put it out of mind.