This Saturday’s three-belt super-middleweight title unification bout between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders appears to be in jeopardy. Why? Not because of a drug test failure or coronavirus protocols or a bad weight cut or a criminal charge... but the ring dimensions.
The ring dimensions.
Saunders is kicking up a stink over wanting a bigger ring than the proposed 18-ft size. The Englishman told TalkSport that he wants a 24-ft ring and has threatened to pull out if he doesn’t get what he wants.
“The problem is I come over here and they try to chuck me in a phone box of a boxing ring,” Saunders said. “You know, all these games and other bits and bumps played along the way for this fight is all mind games. People say stuff to get under people’s skin and under camp’s skin, but it’s hundreds and hundreds of feet long and they want to stick a 16’ to 18’ ring in the middle of it.
“For me, that’s just unacceptable. I want a 24’ ring and they’re saying it’s not gonna happen and it is what it is. But I’ve left it to my team and I’m sure they’ll solve it — otherwise there won’t be any fight.
“You can’t just fly me in here and show me the ring that we’re using and I’ve been training all of my camp in a 24’ ring. It’s a unification fight, not a British title. It’s like someone training on the 200m running track and someone training on the 400m running track — there’s a big difference.”
Saunders is known for moving around quite a bit in his fights, so a larger ring would be more beneficial to him particularly if Canelo is on the front foot and ready to walk him down.
As if that wasn’t enough, Billy Joe’s dad Tom Saunders claims the fight is off even though they’ve already flown to Texas for fight week.
“We wanted a 24ft ring, we’ve come down to a 22ft inner ring,” Tom said (via TalkSport).
“What they’re trying to do is take Billy Joe’s legs away, we’re up against everything here.
“At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let my son box in a 20ft ring [against] supposed to be the pound-for-pound king of boxing.
“They’ve said it’s either 20ft or book your flights home. So unfortunately we apologise to all the fans…
“They’re trying to take his legs away, the fight will not be fair. The fight’s off.”
Texas regulations permit a minimum 16-ft ring and a maximum of 24-ft, although for championship bouts as overseen by the Association of Boxing Commissions... it seems like Team Saunders doesn’t really have a leg to stand on here. If it wasn’t even written in the contract then that’s on them for not including that in the negotiations.
Whatever the case, to throw away a career payday and potentially get an event with 70,000 expectant fans cancelled would get Saunders blackballed by every major promoter for the rest of his time in the sport. He already had a big money fight with Demetrius Andrade squashed back in 2019 when he tested positive for PEDs.
If you’re fretting, maybe you shouldn’t because we’re only a week removed from this bit of madness from Dereck Chisora before he ended up fighting Joseph Parker anyway.