Report: Canelo Alvarez to face Billy Joe Saunders in super middleweight unification bout

Jack Baer
·3 min read

Canelo Alvarez already has his next fight figured out, assuming his February bout against Avni Yildirim goes as planned.

The WBA (super) and WBC super middleweight champion Alvarez will face Billy Joe Saunders, the division’s WBO champion, in a unification bout on Cinco De Mayo weekend, according to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger. Since May 5 is a Wednesday this year, the bout could reportedly land on either May 1 or May 8, with Alvarez reportedly preferring the latter.

DAZN will reportedly stream the fight worldwide, except in Mexico. The location of the fight is still to be determined, though ESPN reports that Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium is the preferred venue, followed by locations in Texas and Florida.

Alvarez is coming off a brilliant return to the ring in December following a yearlong layoff, defeating Callum Smith to capture his super middleweight titles.

Alvarez-Saunders was supposed to happen last year

Canelo Alvarez celebrates after defeating Sergey Kovalev by knockout in a light heavyweight WBO title bout.
Canelo Alvarez has a big year planned. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Alvarez and Saunders were originally planned to fight back in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic obviously altered those plans.

As the boxing world was put on hold for months, it soon became clear the fight couldn’t be held as planned due to the inability to admit paying fans into the arena. A contract dispute between Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions further complicated the financial situation, eventually ending with Alvarez’s release from his record contract.

Not helping matters was Saunders releasing a disgusting video in late March in which he basically explained to men how to commit domestic violence. That video resulted in what ended up being a four-month suspension from the British Boxing Board of Control. It wasn’t the first time Saunders’ actions drew outrage, as there have also been incidents in which he posted a video of himself offering a homeless woman crack if she would perform a sex act or assault on a bystander (he insisted it was banter gone wrong) and of himself getting three of his friends thrown off a plane by telling an airline that one of them had COVID-19 symptoms.

When Saunders is not doing that stuff, he has been building up a perfect 30-0 record. Most recently, he defeated challenger Martin Murray via unanimous decision in December. Now, he’s once again poised for the payday of his life, one year later than planned.

Canelo Alvarez has big plans for 2021

Before stepping into the ring against Saunders, Alvarez will have to defeat his mandatory challenger Yildirim and not sustain much damage while doing it.

The two are scheduled to square off on Feb. 27 in Miami. Alvarez is an overwhelming favorite, while the 23-12 Yildirim hasn’t fought an official bout since February 2019.

Between the Smith win and his scheduled fights against Yildirim and Saunders, Alvarez is on track for three bouts in the span of six months, and his plans don’t stop there. Alvarez’s manager and trainer said in December that Alvarez also plans to fight on Mexican Independence Day in September.

Among the possible opponents for that fight is Caleb Plant, who holds the IBF title at super middleweight. If that’s the plan, an undefeated 2021 would make Alvarez the undisputed champion at super middleweight, and further cement him as the biggest boxing star of a generation.

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