The style problem that Billy Joe Saunders would present if he ever fights Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin
By John J. Raspanti
Promoters. Always talking trash. Fight fans take what they say with a proverbial grain of salt. It’s understood, though in a sense, promoters are like carnival barkers. Their job is to sell.
Recently, Frank Warren, promoter for former WBO middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders (who fights this Saturday against Shefat Isufi) said the main reason Saunders moved up to super-middleweight (conveniently leaving out the fact that Saunders has been known to balloon up to over 200 pounds between fights) was that some of the more famous middleweights didn’t want to fight him.
Warren was of course referring to Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin
Many boxing fans scoffed at Warren’s assertions. Boxing is about styles. Saunders, “Now you see me, now you don’t,” style has driven many an opponent insane.
Take contender David Lemieux, who said this about Saunders a few days before their fight.
“The ring is my house,” Lemieux said in an article on www.boxingnews24.com. “He’s a big trash talker. I don’t think he’s got the biggest IQ. Now it’s time to talk with the fists. I’m going to hurt him very badly in the ring. “
Lemieux talked knockout and death for weeks. When they finally met in Lemieux’s “house,” in Canada, Saunders played hide and seek. Lemieux looked, but couldn’t find him. When he paused, he got rapped in the mouth with jabs and hooks. It was dazzling, unless you were Lemieux, who was befuddled and battered. So perhaps promoter Warren is being somewhat truthful. There’s no doubt that Canelo and GGG were aware of what Saunders did to Lemieux.
Now, let’s qualify this. Lemieux is no great fighter. Not even close. But he’s pretty good, and has the power to knock a house down. GGG easily defeated Lemieux in 2015. Canelo would have likely stopped him late.
But Saunders? The guy can fight. Forget that he can be a jerk outside of the ring. He’s one of the best pure boxers in the world. His southpaw jab is pinpoint, his defense is excellent, and he can even punch a little when he sits down on his blows.
During a press conference, Warren said, “The problem I have is there’s two fighters in particular, Golovkin, they sent us contracts and we signed and sent them back on two occasions. I don’t think they want it and I know that Canelo don’t want it. And that’s the problem.”
Interesting problem. But is it true? Canelo and Golovkin pride themselves on fighting everybody. If the fight is presented, one of them would fight Saunders.
Travis Hartman has fought professionally for 14 years. He’s thrown hands with world champions Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Jessie Vargas, Keith Thurman, and Terence Crawford. He’s been in many battles and knows what it’s like. Does he agree with Warren’s assertions that Canelo and GGG are avoiding fighting Saunders?
“I don’t believe that Canelo or GGG are personally afraid or worried about Billy Joe’s style,” said Hartman last week via Facebook. “I believe it’s the promoters of both fighters that are. They know it’s a difficult stylistic fight that wouldn’t necessarily yield an entertaining fight. Billy Joe isn’t a big enough name right now for them to take a chance. A win doesn’t really do much for the fan base."
“But a loss to a guy like Billy Joe could be bad. “The risk reward in the promoter’s eyes isn’t in their favor right now,” added Hartman.
How about Saunders’ style. Why is he so difficult to fight?
“He (Saunders) is left-handed which can be difficult for most orthodox fighters,” Hartman said.” What Billy Joe has is extreme athletic ability and quickness. His reflexes are something that aren’t talked about much. He seems to be a true student of the game. His boxing IQ is very good.”
Could Billy Joe, as Warren has often said, defeat Canelo and GGG?
“I think Canelo is at a peak in his ability and career right now,” Hartman said. “I believe he would still have to be the favorite over Billy Joe. But I believe Billy Joe would outbox GGG right now. He’s too fast.”
There you have it. Perhaps Warren was being partially honest. Who am I kidding? In his next breath, Warren would probably say that Saunders could defeat King Kong on his worse day.
Promoters. Sell, sell sell.