‘Fighting Words’ — Canelo-Saunders: Just Desserts and a Just Stoppage

Picture by Michelle Farsi/Matchroom.

He had it coming.

That’s how some boxing followers felt about Billy Joe Saunders after years through which he’d firmly established himself as a villain.

He was a infantile man whose absurd antics have been extra merciless than they have been humorous, extra silly than they have been foolish. 

There was the video of Saunders goading a woman, saying he’d give her cash for medication if she carried out a intercourse act on his buddy, then convincing her to punch one other individual. There was the story of him impersonating a police officer and telling a driver to take away his clothes. There have been feedback that have been sexist, misogynistic and homophobic. And there was a video, a horrible joke achieved in poor style, advising males about how to commit domestic violence.

That was simply what occurred outdoors of the game. Inside boxing, there additionally gave the impression to be plenty of causes for contempt.

Saunders talked an enormous sport, trashed the opponents he was going to face, ridiculed potential foes he by no means wound up dealing with, and even insulted fighters far faraway from him in different weight lessons. None of that’s completely different from what numerous different fighters do. And but as expert a boxer as he’d proven he could possibly be in some bouts, Saunders in any other case had a behavior of combating right down to his degree of opposition. For an undefeated two-division titleholder, he hadn’t fairly backed up all his speak. 

Fights at middleweight with Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez did not occur, and a few blamed Saunders for that. His reign as a 160-pound titleholder ended when he examined constructive for a banned substance simply earlier than a struggle with Demetrius Andrade in late 2018. He captured a title at tremendous middleweight two years in the past, beating somebody you’d most likely by no means heard of for a vacant belt, and had achieved little of substance since. He’d complained in regards to the ring measurement for his struggle with Canelo, requested for one thing bigger than regular that might higher swimsuit his type, and threatened to drag out simply days earlier than the match.

However to his detractors, the worst factor that Saunders was on Saturday night time was a quitter and a hypocrite.

That has been the response after Saunders’ loss to Canelo through technical knockout, when Saunders suffered an damage after taking a heavy uppercut halfway by means of the eighth spherical, then remained in his nook earlier than the ninth might start.

Directly, they each took glory in his defeat and took umbrage with the way in which he was defeated.

They obtained what they needed, however not how, and they also weren’t utterly happy. They needed to see him humbled if not humiliated, pummeled if not punished. They needed a comeuppance however felt let down. They believed that Saunders disadvantaged them of that — that he ought to have been as courageous as he’d mentioned he could be in such a scenario, that he ought to’ve gone out on his defend as an alternative of on his stool.

“Get carried out of the ring, brother,” Saunders had said about five months ago, the day after heavyweight Daniel Dubois took a knee and took the depend attributable to an eye fixed damage in his struggle with Joe Joyce. It was quickly revealed that Dubois had suffered a damaged orbital bone and nerve injury.


Saunders mentioned extra a number of days afterward, speaking on The Ak and Barak Show:

“Earlier than I am going on one knee, I’d wish to exit on my again with my pulse stopped,” he mentioned, including a little bit later: “If my two eye sockets have been damaged, my jaw was damaged, my tooth have been out, my nostril was smashed, my mind was crushed, I used to be not stopping till I used to be knocked out or worse. … I don’t agree with a person taking the knee and letting the ref depend him out.”

Typically, boxing followers and writers get lambasted once they criticize fighters, advised in essence that our opinions don’t matter if we’ve by no means actually laced up a pair of gloves.

Picture by Michelle Farsi/Matchroom.

On this case, one skilled boxer concurrently questioned Dubois’ toughness whereas celebrating his personal, though he’d but to stroll a mile in Dubois’ sneakers, or on this case struggle a spherical along with his damage.

Midway by means of the eighth spherical, the southpawSaunders missed a leaping lead proper hook and ate a counter proper uppercut in return. The punch landed on Saunders’ proper eye and clearly affected the 31-year-old from the UK. Saunders stumbled backward a few steps. The toll was shortly seen on Saunders’ face. Saunders felt it as properly. After being on the receiving finish of one more Canelo left hook to the physique, Saunders grabbed on to the 30-year-old from Mexico and didn’t let go for 5 lengthy seconds.

Canelo should have recognized. He peered across the referee because the third man within the ring separated the 2 fighters, noticed the bruising and swelling, despatched one other hook to the physique, held Saunders’ head down and threw an uppercut. Then Canelo put his gloves up, motioning for the group to cheer him on, to revel within the second.

Saunders retreated and tried to make it by means of the remainder of the spherical. Canelo landed two uppercuts and put his arm up for the followers once more. Then got here three physique photographs and a proper cross to the pinnacle. 

Saunders defiantly shook his head, however the remainder of his face positively advised a unique story. 

He was in survival mode, moved and ducked photographs as greatest he might, and tried to achieve one other prolonged respite with a clinch. When Saunders did throw a punch once more, his jab shortly was countered by a tough proper hand. He circled away for the remaining seconds till the spherical, the trouncing, was over.

Saunders’ cutman promptly utilized an enswell to the damage. His coach, Mark Tibbs, appeared on the fighter and made the clever resolution to cease the match.

It was anticlimactic. One punch, no knockdowns, no knockout, simply 90 seconds of aftermath after which a quiet resignation. Nevertheless it was the appropriate name.

The damage was unhealthy. It primarily shut Saunders down. He’d thrown 50 punches in Spherical 7, per CompuBox, however solely set free 23 in Spherical 8. Virtually all of them got here earlier than he ate that vast uppercut. Saunders was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with multiple fractures. He underwent surgical procedure and faces a prolonged restoration.

Some followers and observers have been fast to level out a number of warriors who’d fought by means of important ache and grotesque accidents. However that’s why these fighters are as revered as they’re. What they endured was distinctive. How they responded was outstanding.

The opposite factor to remember is that not all eye accidents are created equal. It’s inconceivable to measure what that fighter is experiencing. It additionally issues who they’re experiencing it in opposition to. 

It was one factor for Pawel Wolak to nonetheless stand in in opposition to the likes of Delvin Rodriguez regardless of the horrifying swelling around his eye. It’s one thing utterly completely different to know that Naoya Inoue fought practically a complete struggle, and received, along with his accidents in opposition to Nonito Donaire. 

Picture by Michelle Farsi/Matchroom.

The truth that Saunders and his group pulled out given his situation, and on condition that he could be even much less capable of cope with Canelo Fucking Alvarez, is by no means shocking. The rest would’ve fallen someplace between negligence and malpractice. 

Each time a fighter is lambasted for quitting, the instance I at all times flip to is Israel Vazquez in his first struggle with Rafael Marquez. With a damaged nostril and bother respiration, Vazquez referred to as it an evening after seven rounds. It was tough sufficient to struggle Marquez whereas wholesome. It will’ve been dumb to struggle him whereas not. In his case, discretion really proved to be the higher a part of valor. Vazquez was capable of mend, be again within the ring 5 months later and win the following two installments of their fabled sequence of fights.

That’s to not examine Vazquez and Saunders, however relatively to notice that even probably the most storied warriors want mercy — consider Buddy McGirt saving Arturo Gatti from any extra of the embarrassing beating he was taking from Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

In fact, Saunders isn’t beloved like Gatti nor revered like Vazquez. To many, he has been a villain who wanted to be put in his place. These repercussions ought to by no means embody the danger of everlasting damage. 

He misplaced the struggle. 

He misplaced his world title. 

He misplaced out on changing into a unified titleholder. 

He misplaced out on the paydays that accomplishment would have introduced.

The injuries beneath the pores and skin will heal and the marks round his eye will fade. That blemish on his report, and every thing it represents, will stay ceaselessly.

The ten Depend

1 – Canelo Alvarez deserves a lot approval for his marketing campaign to win all 4 main world titles at tremendous middleweight within the span of 9 months. He’s not the one fighter with three belts and aiming for a fourth.

There’s additionally junior middleweight Jermell Charlo, who took again his WBC title when he knocked out Tony Harrison of their rematch in 2019, after which added the IBF and WBA belts when he put away Jeison Rosario final 12 months. Charlo is slated to face WBO titleholder Brian Castaño this July. The winner would be the undisputed champ at 154.

(We’ll even have one other undisputed champ in per week and a half, when Josh Taylor brings his two belts, Jose Ramirez brings his two belts, and the winner leaves with 4 titles and the junior welterweight throne.)

Each Canelo and Charlo would nonetheless have challengers out there afterward. 

If Canelo beats Caleb Plant — if that struggle is made (extra on that beneath) — then he might go on to defend in opposition to the winner of the upcoming bout between David Benavidez vs. Jose Uzcategui. Or Gennady Golovkin might transfer up from 160 to 168 for a 3rd struggle with Canelo. Or Demetrius Andrade might transfer up and at last get the shot he’s been clamoring for (extra on that beneath as properly). Maybe Jermall Charlo, Jermell’s twin brother, might make the bounce from middleweight as properly.

As for Jermell, he’d emerge on high after what has felt like a round-robin event at 154:

  • Jermell has defeated the likes of Erickson Lubin, Harrison and Jeison Rosario.
  • Lubin misplaced in a single spherical to Jermell and however has wins over Terrell Gausha and Nathaniel Gallimore (who beat Rosario).
  • Julian Williams misplaced to Jermall again when he too was at 154, however J-Rock went on to beat Gallimore and Jarrett Hurd earlier than getting knocked out by Rosario.
  • Hurd beat Harrison (who was awarded a controversial win over Jermell of their first struggle) and Erislandy Lara, however was upset by Williams. Hurd shall be dealing with Luis Arias quickly; it’s unsure whether or not he’ll be shifting as much as middleweight for good.
  • Lara beat Gausha, misplaced to Hurd and drew with Castaño. He simply received a secondary belt at 160 and could also be staying there.

I’d get pleasure from seeing Jermell in opposition to any mixture of Lubin, Williams, Hurd and Lara. 

2 – Loads of speak after Canelo-Saunders went to Caleb Plant and the leverage he’ll have in negotiations. In spite of everything, Canelo must face Plant to get that fourth world title.

I’m positive Plant and his group will ask for what they really feel is correct, as they need to. I don’t assume they’ll take too exhausting a stance, nonetheless. Plant has much more to achieve from this struggle than Canelo does.

Plant received’t get wherever close to as a lot cash dealing with anybody else as he would in opposition to Canelo. No different tremendous middleweight can pack stadiums like Canelo. Now that Canelo’s short-term cope with Matchroom Boxing has come to an finish, it stays to be seen whether or not Canelo’s subsequent struggle shall be strictly on pay-per-view or if he’ll stick to DAZN. Both approach, Canelo’s dance companion will receives a commission decently, if not handsomely, for the privilege.

That doesn’t imply Plant ought to simply settle for no matter he’s supplied. However he has to know that is his largest alternative, combating for all 4 world titles and tens of millions of {dollars} and the potential for extra down the road. There’s a whole lot of pleasure on the road. There’s a whole lot of prizes on the road. He shouldn’t let the previous get in the way in which of the latter.

3. Boxing followers have loved it previously when one fighter crashes one other fighter’s victory to difficulty a problem. Alas, Demetrius Andrade obtained little love from followers when he spoke up at Canelo Alvarez’s post-fight press convention. (He obtained even much less love from Canelo, who cursed at Andrade and mocked the middleweight.)

I don’t blame followers for his or her opinion, given how a lot Andrade has sabotaged himself over time, from pulling out of a struggle with Jermell Charlo in 2014 to going by means of the motions in fights the place he might’ve simply taken out his opponents. I’ve written often over the years about how Andrade should shoulder a lot of the blame for his scenario.

Nonetheless, as somebody who’s a fan of boxing, relatively than a fan of boxers, I nonetheless could be desirous about seeing Andrade within the large fights. However he must do extra to make them occur. 

He wants extra fights that make him look extra entertaining, like his latest win over Liam Williams. The factor is that Andrade has by no means had a lot leverage. Having a world title by no means gave him as a lot sway at 154 or at 160 as, say, maneuvering by means of the scores for a compulsory shot would possibly’ve completed. 

The large names aren’t combating him. It’s time that Andrade stops losing his time in opposition to the lesser names. Face the second tier — the fellows who’ve misplaced to the highest guys — and begin making your case along with your actions, not simply your phrases. 

4 – It’s a nitpick, however the DAZN manufacturing group dropped the ball by both not capturing the sound from Billy Joe Saunders’ nook after Spherical 8 of his struggle with Canelo Alvarez, or simply not airing it.

We noticed an enswell being utilized to Saunders’ damage beneath his proper eye. We watched Saunders shake his head a number of instances. We had no context. Not because it occurred. Not after it occurred, after the struggle was stopped and Canelo was declared the technical knockout winner.

We after all know why Saunders’ nook stopped the struggle. However listening to what was mentioned would’ve added a lot to that dramatic turning level.

I feel again to a number of instances when nook audio helped painting a second. Off the highest of my head, two of them contain Buddy McGirt, one other involving Freddie Roach.

I consider Arturo Gatti leaning in to inform McGirt that his hand was damage within the third struggle with Micky Ward, after which McGirt counseling Gatti on learn how to regulate his technique. 

I consider HBO’s crew switching to Paulie Malignaggi’s nook simply earlier than he got here out for the eleventh spherical with Ricky Hatton, simply in time to listen to the tail finish of McGirt saying he didn’t wish to let his fighter take extra punishment, and Malignaggi protesting. These few seconds of footage gave necessary context when, lower than a minute later, McGirt stopped the struggle mid-round and Malignaggi angrily pushed McGirt. And that then gave full context for when Malignaggi modified trainers afterward.

I consider Roach counseling Ruslan Provodnikov to go for the knockout in opposition to Timothy Bradley, recommendation that didn’t come earlier than the twelfth spherical however relatively earlier than the eleventh — and the fury that got here from Provodnikov’s fists till he lastly downed Bradley with seconds to go within the match.

And even when it’s not reside, the footage may be worthwhile after the actual fact. I consider Showtime’s recurring post-fight characteristic through which they spotlight snippets from every boxer’s nook.

5 – Even with out the top of Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders, I’d hesitate to query a fighter who receives a doubtlessly severe blow. 

As of late, I can’t see a fighter reply to a rabbit punch with out recalling Prichard Colon, the younger welterweight/junior middleweight prospect who ended up in a coma after his 2015 loss to Terrel Williams, accidents many imagine have been caused by the many shots that landed behind his head. I consider our interviews earlier that year, the miracle that he’s nonetheless alive, and but the condition he’s in and what that continues to mean for his family.

With all of that mentioned, I feel Nagy Aguilera was overreacting — and presumably overacting — in his struggle with Frank Sanchez on Saturday night time.

Sanchez, an unbeaten heavyweight, was taking up the pale journeyman on the Canelo-Saunders undercard. Within the sixth spherical, Sanchez threw a looping proper hand and Aguilera dipoed his head ahead. The shot went behind Aguilera, appeared to hit his again or shoulder, and should have cuffed Aguilera’s neck and the again of his head.

Picture by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

Aguilera turned away, motioned to the again of his head, walked to the ropes, went down on each knees, and shortly dropped the remainder of the way in which to the canvas. After a number of seconds, Aguilera started to rise earlier than collapsing again down once more.

When the struggle went to a technical resolution, as is correct for a fight-ending damage attributable to this type of unintended foul, Aguilera started to protest. “That’s a motherfucking foul,” he mentioned. “Ten instances he hit me, and nothing.”

The gang was having none of it. Each time Sanchez was proven on the large display screen at AT&T Stadium, they set free a refrain of cheers. Each time Aguilera was proven, they booed. It felt like an old-fashioned wrestling match the place the babyface and heel have been exchanging punches.

Provided that Aguilera gave the impression to be cradling his left arm and didn’t take his left glove off, it’s truthful to surprise if one thing else was happening and he was on the lookout for a approach out.

6 – The Nagy Aguilera scenario was paying homage to one other debacle final month, when Ivan Redkach was stretchered out after complaining a couple of low blow that, fairly merely, wasn’t. Regis Prograis was initially given a technical resolution win over Redkach however was later awarded a TKO.

Besides you don’t even must go to a different fighter to recall a travesty like this. Apparently, that is a part of Aguilera’s shtick.

“Nagy Aguilera additionally pulled that ‘He hit me on the again of the pinnacle, I can’t proceed!’ transfer in a struggle in Poland,” tweeted Hall of Fame boxing writer Graham Houston. “The Polish ref didn’t purchase it, counted Aguilera out.” 

It’s true. It took some looking, however here’s some footage of Aguilera’s loss to some 6-1 dude named Sergiej Werwejko again in 2017 in Poland. Werwejko landed a tapping rabbit punch in a clinch. Aguilera cradled the again of his head and took a knee.

7 – How little drug testing is occurring in boxing today? Too little, according to this well-reported article by Lance Pugmire of The Athletic. 

Listed below are my preliminary ideas after studying Pugmire’s piece:

  • The World Boxing Council, which instituted its Clear Boxing Program in 2016, isn’t offering sufficient funding to the hassle, which limits how typically it makes use of the providers of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Affiliation, or VADA. Though the highest 15 in every division (270 fighters, in case you embody bridgerweight) should be enrolled in this system, the $120,000 price range solely permits for a complete of 75 or so random exams per 12 months, in keeping with Pugmire.
  • I wonder if the WBC’s price range for testing is decrease now than it was once, or if its prices are increased. As a result of in mid-2017, the group introduced that it had examined a complete of 72 fighters to date that 12 months, lots of them a number of instances.
  • This case leaves an incredible quantity of room for boxers to get away with dishonest. Most of them received’t be examined a single time underneath the WBC’s program. And in the event that they get examined as soon as, they will gamble on the probability that they received’t be examined once more.
  • As pitiful because the WBC’s funding is, what little that sanctioning physique does continues to be greater than what the opposite sanctioning our bodies are doing. The fractured state of boxing signifies that whether or not you’re drug examined, for what substances, and the way typically, can depend upon who has you ranked, what athletic fee has licensed you, who your promoter is, and whether or not the a part of your struggle settlement regarding drug testing has been signed. 
  • In a tweet after Pugmire’s article ran, VADA said this: “It’s necessary to notice that VADA at the moment exams 30-40 boxers each month. Most are enrolled within the WBC Boxing CBP as both Prime 15 rated or volunteers with testing backed by athletes, their representatives, promoters and commissions.”
  • Mauricio Sulaiman advised Pugmire that he thinks that the lack of income from the pandemic and the rise of bills from COVID testing meant that promoters “checked out anti-doping as an apart and never a precedence.” Sadly, that has most of the time been the case since properly earlier than the pandemic. Drug testing not often appears to give you promoters except one in every of their fighters desires it. 
  • And boxing writers are nonetheless too typically apathetic about drug testing, too not often holding promoters accountable for whether or not drug testing is going on, how typically it’s occurring, and the way lengthy earlier than a struggle — or, as tends to be the case, how quick a time earlier than a struggle — drug testing is about to start. I can inform you from expertise that promoters don’t like answering these robust questions. Promoters ought to be placed on the report earlier than each important struggle. And it’s necessary not simply to ask them whether or not it’s occurring, however why or why not.

8. Sadly, asking my fellow boxing writers to carry the powers-that-be accountable on drug testing is clearly asking an excessive amount of of them. 

They couldn’t even fulfill their journalistic accountability to do a single article about whether or not it was secure to have greater than 70,000 followers being in an enviornment through the coronavirus pandemic.

The reporters needn’t take a stance. They may have simply reported it objectively — asking questions on necessary subjects and searching for out the solutions, on this case by calling public well being consultants and epidemiologists.

It’s what reporters have achieved for pandemic-related tales about different industries and other sports. They puzzled when issues would reopen, and the way. They requested these industries and sports activities league what protecting measures would and wouldn’t be in place. After which they sought docs and researchers to elucidate what all of this meant.


I’m dissatisfied in my colleagues. Sadly, I’m additionally not shocked given the state of boxing media today. 

9 – Right here was promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing speaking last week to TMZ.com:

“There shall be masks worn, obligatory, on Saturday night time.”

That simply wasn’t true. It wasn’t true on the weigh-in, which whereas outdoors nonetheless went in opposition to the most recent guidelines for out of doors gatherings posted by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

And it positively wasn’t true on struggle night time inside AT&T Stadium. You want solely watch the printed itself to see that. Or any of plenty of clips posted on-line. I additionally spoke to boxing followers who attended the occasion.

It’s not just like the occasion organizers don’t know that COVID continues to be a problem. The ring was nonetheless being disinfected between fights.


10 – We finish this week with a video of MC Hammer throwing jabs, hooks and crosses.

Lastly, somebody whom boxing followers won’t ever bash. In spite of everything, not like another fighters they criticize, MC Hammer is 2 Legit 2 Stop…


Observe David Greisman on Twitter @FightingWords2. His guide, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” is accessible on Amazon.

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