Billy Joe Saunders is on the comeback trail after piling on the pounds following the first defeat of his career against Canelo Alvarez.
The Hatfield boxer has been out of the ring since May 2021. He suffered his solitary loss from 31 bouts at the AT&T Stadium in Texas at the hands of the Mexican superstar.
Canelo hurt and stopped Saunders in front of 70,000 fans during the pandemic, leaving Saunders contemplating his future due to a nasty eye injury.
Taking a considerable paycheck back to the UK, Saunders could take it easy. He had time to fully recover despite only fighting four times in the previous three and a half years.
At 32, Saunders would have been well advised to heal and head straight back to action. However, such is the earning power of a Canelo fight that many opponents take time out to assess their next moves and enjoy the money.
Saunders looks to be one of those as he put on considerable weight. He remained out of the spotlight while the super middleweight division moved on.
Thirty months passed before Saunders finally began to emerge. Before that, several images on social media held questions over validity.
Billy Joe Saunders returns to the spotlight
Looking huge in some, photoshop was purported to be at play despite no denials from the fighter himself. However, his latest and most comprehensive appearance in the spotlight shows that Saunders has done a great job shedding pounds and is certainly on the road to competing again.
Time is running out, though. Saunders, now 34-years-old, could be aiming for a third-world title, which by any means isn’t out of the realms of reality.
His standing with the World Boxing Organisation as a two-weight world titleholder alone would favor a high ranking. He could earn a shot at the super-middleweight champion if Saunders can string a couple of wins together beginning this December.
Canelo remains the ruler of the division after his recent win over Jermell Charlo. As Saunders won’t be in the hunt for a rematch, his best opportunity would be at light-heavyweight.
Due to his weight gain, campaigning at 175 pounds makes the most sense. The division would see a solid addition to its ranks. The situation then opens up a big fight in the UK between Saunders and Callum Smith, Anthony Yarde, or Joshua Buatsi.
Even if Smith loses to divisional king Artur Beterbiev, colliding with Saunders would be a British boxing Pay-per-view affair. That’s provided promoters like Eddie Hearn or Ben Shalom could add a meaningful asset to the mix.
Two ex-Canelo victims facing off at the O2 Arena or Manchester Arena would be a solid event for the coming year.
Phil Jay is an experienced boxing news writer.
Editor of World Boxing News since 2010.