clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders unification bout agreed for early May

New, comments

Alvarez will first have to beat Avni Yildirim in February and come away unscathed.

Canelo Alvarez after his win over Callum Smith. Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders is back on for May, only this time the hope is that the coronavirus won’t cancel the bout again.

The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger reported on Thursday that Alvarez and Saunders have agreed to fight on either May 1st or May 8th (either side of Cinco de Mayo) for the WBC, WBA, and WBO super-middleweight titles. Needless to say there’s a lot more at stake in the re-booking of this match compared to when it was just for Saunders’ WBO belt last year.

What first needs to happen is Canelo must beat heavy underdog but mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on February 27th in Florida. As long as Alvarez wins as expected and comes away unscathed, Saunders is next. If Canelo suffers a freak accident or one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history, then the plan is obviously ruined.

Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) won a lopsided unanimous decision over Callum Smith to win the vacant WBC title and take away Smith’s WBA championship. It was his lone appearance of 2020 after the pandemic nixed the Saunders fight last May. He also got himself out of his Golden Boy Promotions contract and while he’s still fighting on DAZN for the next two fights, it won’t be on that $365 million deal anymore. Don’t worry... Canelo isn’t hurting for cash.

Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) captured the vacant WBO belt by beating Shefat Isufi in May 2019. The former WBO middleweight champion’s reign at 168 has seen him stop Marcelo Coceres and win a drab decision over a since retired Martin Murray. Underwhelming, to say the least. The Englishman’s best wins have come at 160 lbs against Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee, and David Lemieux.

On paper it’s compelling even though Saunders is anything but an action fighter. His notoriously inconsistent performances don’t make him someone who’s a must-see attraction. The winner would be on the cusp of becoming an undisputed champion, with Caleb Plant holding the IBF title right now, and Saunders makes up for his lack of power by having slick boxing and tricky defense.

A venue for Canelo-Saunders hasn’t been determined but Nevada, Texas, and Florida are all potential landing spots for this event. Certainly a lot hinges on the pandemic and whether restrictions or more severe outbreaks affect long-term plans.