Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders: The Preview

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Start time: 8 pm ET the card begins

Tale of the Tape

Age: Saunders 31 Alvarez 30

Fights: Saunders 30 Alvarez 58

Rounds: Saunders 214 Alvarez 417

KO %: Saunders 46% Alvarez 63%

Title Fights: Saunders 7-0 Alvarez 14-1

Height: Saunders 5’11” Alvarez 5’9″

Reach: Saunders 71″ Alvarez 70 1/2″


As of 06:00 pm ET May 5, 2021

Alvarez -800

Saunders +550

Ring Magazine Picks

Writers: 8-0 Alvarez

Insiders: 10-1

Kalle Sauerland was the only one of 19 to pick Saunders

Andre Ward’s 12 Rounds on ESPN+

I will not put up the article directly as it is on ESPN’s paid content and I don’t want to get my balls busted but here is his breakdown and my thoughts

Power: Alvarez

I agree with Ward’s assessment as Alvarez has proven punching power in title fights. I would not call either a massive puncher though Alvarez can create serious torque on his hooks and does posses punching power. Alvarez is more likely to hurt an opponent to the body like he did vs Rocky Fielding. When he has stopped an opponent since moving up from 154 lbs. it is typically later on as he did vs Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round of their fight after he had wore him down.

Speed: Saunders

I somewhat agree with Ward’s sentiments. I think Saunders has faster feet and utilizes his feet more than Alvarez does. However, I find Alvarez has the faster hands even though he emphasizes his power he still retains hand speed. I think this door swings both ways as I feel Saunders can negate Alvarez’s hand speed advantage with foot movement but Alvarez can catch a mobile Saunders due to his quick hands and ability to anticipate where his opponent will be.

Offense: Alvarez

I agree with Ward as I think Alvarez has a wider array of weapons on offense. His body punching is superb and he has very accurate and fast combinations. He is great at alternating to the head and the body which has created knockdowns at the higher weights and causes hesitancy in his opponents. His flashy and clean punching style also scores well with the judges.

Defense: Saunders

I think this is more of a push. Saunders is really good at moving and staying out of range and making opponents miss. Alvarez is good at making opponents miss from in close and landing blows in response. Saunders may stifle and frustrate you while Alvarez will punish you. I think this is the reason why Alvarez has more KO’s and his defense is proven against top competition unlike Saunders. Alvarez has also fought a much wider array of styles and has proven his defense is capable against aggressive and defensive fighters.

Technique: Alvarez

I think this is again more of a push. I don’t see a distinct advantage either way. Neither has serious technical flaws. They both have very different styles that they can execute well. Alvarez is just more consistent in his implementation of his techniques.

Experience: Alvarez

This is easy, Alvarez has nearly twice as many fights and double the title fights that Saunders has. Alvarez faced the best boxer of the generation in Floyd Mayweather, a hall of fame type of fighter in Shane Mosely, possibly the hardest puncher of the previous decade in Gennady Golovkin and a long list of very good fighters. Sure there are some caveats and asterisks here and there but by and large Alvarez has the best resume of any active fighter. Saunders really has three notable wins in Chris Eubank Jr., Andy Lee, and David Lemieux with none of them being truly elite.

Versatility: Alvarez

I agree and I think the two Golovkin fights make this point clearly. In the first fight Alvarez fought along the ropes and on the back foot playing counter puncher and got a draw, many felt he lost including me but it was a close fight. In the rematch Alvarez won on the front foot in a much different fight than the first encounter. Regardless of how you scored the fights, they were close and Alvarez showed the ability to adapt and completely change his approach from fight to fight.

Durability: Alvarez

I agree, not because Saunders is not durable but because Alvarez has proven his case. The two Golovkin fights saw him go 24 rounds with possibly the hardest puncher in the sport and he took everything well and never really showed any signs of being in trouble. I have no reason to suspect Saunders is hiding any serious vulnerabilities but he has not proven it to the extent Alvarez has.

Tenacity: Alvarez

I agree for the same reason I give the edge to Alvarez in durability and that is down to proven examples. Alvarez has had to gut out close fights and has gone to war in the ring. Saunders has had struggles at times in the ring but normally has out classed his opposition without going to battle.

Ring Generalship: Saunders

I guess it comes down to the definition of generalship. I like to think of it as dictating the fight as in where and how the fight takes place. I think both are very good at exerting their approaches over their opponents and controlling their fights. Alvarez as I previously stated has a very judge friendly style based on clean punching and hand speed. Saunders excels at controlling distance and making it a long range fight. He has a height and reach advantage that really play in his favor here though it is not as massive has other fighters have had in the past. I give a slight edge to Saunders.

Trainer: Alvarez

Eddy Reynoso is a much bigger name than Mark Tibbs but Tibbs has worked with Saunders along with his father Jimmy Tibbs. Both have had long term relationships where they have risen together. I’d say it might be a push though Reynoso has a deeper stable and did wonders for Oscar Valdez and helped Andy Ruiz become less fat. Reynoso might be better at recognizing things mid fight and creating a better game plan going in but I think at the end of the day a trainer is only as good as their fighter. Saunders has had tendencies to fight down to his opposition and Tibbs has allowed this. Alvarez is consistent and I cannot recall a fight of his where he was totally unprepared and not in top fighting form. I have to give the edge to Alvarez though I think this category in big fights can be a little overrated.

Intangibles: Alvarez

I agree and that is based on the overstated proven commodity evidence. I have seen Alvarez have to comeback and turn it up a level to get the victory. He has been the underdog in fights and dealt with serious adversity. I think Saunders has created adversity for himself rather than been put into these testing scenarios. I think Alvarez’s ability to climb weights, win titles, defeat varying styles, and edge out close fights is a serious intangible that give him a clear edge. There is not a word to put on it only that he is a winner, plain and simple.

The Prediction

I think there is a prototype fighter that people feel is Canelo Alvarez’s poison. That is a mobile counter puncher and we saw that with Mayweather where he was soundly defeated and we saw that with Erislandy Lara where many felt Lara was robbed of a deserved decision. Because Alvarez struggled with the precise punching and the excellent foot work many feel that this is what Alvarez struggles against and have accused him avoiding fighters like Saunders and Demetrius Andrade for that very reason. My counter point to this notion is first that Mayweather is an all time great fighter and there is no shame losing there. Second, every fighter is going to struggle with a skilled mover with a negative style like Lara and even then it was a close fight. Saunders embodies the mobile counter puncher with a skilled defense but in my observations of him I cannot say for certain he can maintain an air tight game plan for thirty-six minutes under the bright lights. Maybe Saunders will be at his absolute best and ready to execute a perfect strategy for a full twelve rounds but we have not seen him do it since the David Lemieux fight and that was several years ago. Alvarez, since the second Golovkin fight, has continued to improve and get better and looks to be in his absolute prime. He is healthy, not distracted and has been as active and ambitious as ever as he looks to unify all four titles at super middleweight. I expect nothing but the best from Alvarez and pick him to control this fight from the middle rounds on to complete performance and decisive decision victory.

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