ARLINGTON, Texas — The prefight antics between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders have given their upcoming title clash a little bit of normalcy for a boxing combat week, in comparison with latest occasions.
Saunders threatened a boycott of Saturday’s tremendous middleweight unification bout at AT&T Stadium over the dimensions of the ring they may combat in. His camp chided Alvarez early and sometimes, whether or not it was within the resort foyer or at Tuesday’s faceoff, when Saunders stepped towards Alvarez whereas sporting a blue Versace gown with gold trim.
However these shenanigans pale compared to the circus surrounding the present period of YouTuber boxing. Not too long ago, the game’s most seen playing cards have been headlined by the likes of Jake and Logan Paul, the brothers who’ve leveraged their social media followings into pay-per-view boxing spectacles.
That is what makes this weekend’s Alvarez-Saunders combat so essential. These mocking the game for letting its ineptitude create a path for social influencers to run amok and overshadow the remainder of the boxing world have legitimate factors.
Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) is arguably boxing’s best draw. For years, the Mexico-born fighter has been one of many sport’s high superstars. On Saturday, he’s combating for the third time prior to now six months. And but, even he is being overshadowed. The game’s headlines have been dominated by the Paul brothers; Jake Paul is coming off a knockout win over retired MMA fighter Ben Askren, an event that included the likes of Justin Bieber and SNL solid member Pete Davidson.
It is a development that Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn helped speed up when he promoted a bout between Logan Paul and fellow YouTuber KSI in 2019.
“Once I was doing the press conferences, a part of me was dying slightly bit inside,” Hearn stated.
However the numbers, he stated, confirmed why it was definitely worth the headache. And it was a chance to introduce youthful followers to the game.
Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), who holds the WBO belt, was on the undercard of Logan Paul-KSI. So was Devin Haney, the present WBC light-weight champion.
Fights between YouTubers and non-boxers have sparked comparable occasions between retired boxers, or hybrids of the 2 concepts, together with an upcoming exhibition pitting Logan Paul in opposition to the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Canelo, whose solely skilled loss got here to Mayweather in 2013, could not escape his previous rival’s shadow this weekend. Paul and Mayweather held their first information convention on Thursday, the identical day Alvarez and Saunders met with reporters for the ultimate time this week.
Alvarez advised ESPN he wasn’t upset with Mayweather for collaborating in that kind of occasion.
“He is already made his story,” Alvarez advised ESPN by an interpreter. “He is already made historical past. Now he simply needs to earn money, and it is his proper to take action.”
Now comes the second when boxing has to money in on any new eyes on the game who’re desirous about seeing what else boxing has to supply. With Alvarez, ESPN’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter, combating in entrance of a possible crowd of 70,000 individuals, it is an opportunity to indicate what boxing is meant to be on the highest stage.
The Mexican champion’s combat in opposition to Saunders is an opportunity to cleanse the palates for followers and people within the boxing trade and show there’s profitability past celeb exhibitions.
“I do know we have the truth stars and all this type of stuff,” Hearn stated. “We now have to indicate folks that boxing is a strong sport. And also you solely try this with fights like this and occasions like this and a crowd like this and an environment like this.”
Hearn believes Alvarez, who formally would not have a promoter, is the one one who can create the form of noise required to disrupt the present fad.
“With out these sorts of occasions, boxing is f—ed,” Hearn advised ESPN. “In order that’s why that is so essential. And to do it as a record-breaking occasion, to do it as that form of assertion is what’s so nice, the place we are able to say, ‘Boxing did that.'”
Saunders is tailored for Alvarez. Saunders is not nice at any specific space. He wants a powerful means in no less than one space to check Alvarez, and I do not suppose Saunders has a “nice” means. He is stable in lots of areas — he is well-rounded, and technically, he’s fairly accountable, fairly good. However he would not stand out in a single space like quickness or velocity, energy. It’s worthwhile to verify a type of packing containers if you wish to beat Alvarez at this level.
Saunders just isn’t that quick along with his ft, he is not completely elusive. He is there. And being that one in all Alvarez’s fortes goes to the physique, that can serve him nicely in opposition to Saunders. Alvarez goes to navigate Saunders right into a place the place he can go to his physique and have success there, perhaps even harm him to the physique. — Teddy Atlas
Strain’s on for Saunders
After combat week controversies surrounding the whole lot from the three judges who will rating the combat to the dimensions of the ring, Saunders faces a tall job on Saturday in opposition to Alvarez. With the percentages seemingly stacked in opposition to him, read Nick Parkinson’s story about how Saunders is feeling within the lead-up to the bout.
By the numbers
47.3: Proportion of energy punches landed by Canelo, in accordance with CompuBox — second most amongst all lively fighters (simply .2% behind No. 1 Miguel Berchelt). Canelo additionally lands 37.4% of his whole punches (additionally second to Berchelt).
4.6: Energy punches landed per spherical by Saunders, third lowest amongst all tracked lively fighters by CompuBox.
54.2: Proportion of Saunders’ landed punches which can be jabs, highest amongst all lively fighters, in accordance with CompuBox.
6-0: Canelo’s document in opposition to British boxers. 4 of these fights resulted in knockouts, with solely the primary (in opposition to Matthew Hatton in March 2011) and most up-to-date (in opposition to Callum Smith in December 2020) going to the scorecards
Boxing’s Cinco de Mayo weekend custom
Whereas there was pushback in opposition to the best way Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated as a vacation in recent times, the weekend has grow to be a cornerstone of the boxing calendar — particularly prior to now 20 years, courting again to Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Terrence Ali in 1993. Two of the highest three grossing boxing pay-per-views in historical past — Floyd Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya (2007, 2.4 million buys, third all-time) and Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (2015, 4.6 million buys, first all-time) befell throughout this weekend.
Canelo has fought on this weekend six instances, successful all six bouts.
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Title combat: Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders, 12 rounds, for Alvarez’s WBC and WBA tremendous middleweight titles and Saunders’ WBO tremendous middleweight title
Title combat: Elwin Soto (18-1, 12 KOs) vs. Katsunari Takayama (32-8, 12 KOs), 12 rounds, for Soto’s WBO junior flyweight title
Kieron Conway (16-1-1, 3 KOs) vs. Souleymane Cissokho (12-0, 8 KOs), 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Frank Sanchez (17-0, 13 KOs) vs. Nagy Aguilera (21-10, 14 KOs), 10 rounds, heavyweights
Christian Alan Gomez Duran (19-2-1, 17 KOs) vs. Xavier Wilson (11-2-1, 1 KO), 8 rounds, welterweights
Keyshawn Davis (2-0, 2 KOs) vs. Jose Antonio Meza (6-4, 1 KO), 6 rounds, lightweights
Marc Castro (2-0, 2 KOs) vs. Irving Macias Castillo (9-1, 6 KOs), 6 rounds, featherweights
Kelvin Davis (1-0, 1 KO) vs. Jan Marsalek (8-2, 7 KOs), 4 rounds, junior welterweights