Pressure mounts on Saunders ahead of Canelo title clash

Boxing

Billy Joe Saunders is hoping Saturday’s fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez does not end in controversy after learning there will not be a British judge for the world super-middleweight title unification fight.

Saunders, from England, is unhappy one of the three judges is not British for his clash with Mexican Canelo, who will have the support of a 60,000+ crowd for the world super-middleweight title unification clash at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.

“I was under the impression there would be a British judge on there but apparently the commission don’t allow it,” said Saunders, who has been preparing for WBC-WBA champion Canelo since January.

Saunders might be promoted by Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn, but the two clashed on a media call with UK reporters over various issues.

“I know this is pure business and your [Eddie] business relationship with Canelo is better than the business relationship you’ve got with me, because it’s more money,” Saunders said.

“As long as I get a fair shake I don’t care what side of the fence anyone is on. It’s only Canelo I’m really worried about, not Eddie, not the judges, not anyone else. In my agreement there was a British judge when I did the deal, Eddie says the contract says different.

“I’m happy I’ve got the shot. I’m just asking for a fair shake. I might go there and get knocked out in one round, we may not need judges. He might spark me in 30 seconds. If we do get to judges, if I win by two or three rounds then it is hard to get that unless they’re fair scorecards.”

Hearn says the three ringside judges will be from neutral countries, not from the United Kingdom or Mexico.

WBO titleholder Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), 31, from Hatfield in England, insists he will be different to the previous six British boxers who were beaten by Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs), 30, a world champion in four weight classes and arguably the best boxer in the world.

Canelo was just 20 when he claimed his first British scalp, defeating Matthew Hatton — brother of two-weight world champion Ricky — via a lopsided points decision in March 2011.

In his next fight, Canelo stopped Ryan Rhodes in the last round for the WBC world super welterweight title. After a promising start, Amir Khan was knocked out in the sixth round after jumping up to middleweight to take on the Mexican for the WBC crown in May 2016.

Four months later, Canelo knocked out Khan’s fellow Englishman Liam Smith in the ninth round for the WBO super welterweight title at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, where Saunders faces Canelo this weekend.

Smith was the first of three boxers from Liverpool to lose to Canelo, who dispatched Rocky Fielding in three rounds in December 2018 and two years later outpointed Callum Smith for the WBC and WBA world super middleweight titles.

“I’m not going to sit here and slag people off and big people up, Canelo has been doing it for many, many years now, destroying everyone,” Saunders told ESPN.

“Six of those were Brits. I don’t really take anything from any of them because I do my own thing. That’s what’s going to win this fight, something I bring to the table that none of them had.

“Hatton did a good job many years ago, I still haven’t watched the Callum Smith fight now, I’ve seen highlights. But I think tactics may have been a little bit wrong there and a bit rushed because they didn’t have a lot of preparation for it. That’s what I hear anyway.

“Ryan Rhodes also, but every fight is different and I never watch my opponents, never break them down and think ‘I’m going to hit him with a jab because he’s wide open for the jab’ because fighters like Canelo, you’ve got to beat them in the moment. Your brain has to be constantly thinking. I have to get my brain ticking over.”

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