Billy Joe Saunders tells Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez: ‘Let’s see who the best is’

Billy Joe Saunders has reiterated his willingness to travel to fight on Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s terms – but warned he will not wait much longer and could face Callum Smith instead.

The race to fight Canelo has included British duo Saunders and Smith, and their patience could yet pay off after Japan’s Ryota Murata was unable to seal the deal himself.

“I’m up for the fight. I’ve not priced myself out – I’ve asked right,” Saunders told Sky Sports. “I’m willing to travel for Cinco de Mayo [on May 2].

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“I can only do so much. I can only offer myself. If they really want to fight then let’s get it on, we’ve got 12 weeks.

“If not, me and Callum Smith will get it on in a big fight. A huge unification fight.

“I hear Smith is the frontrunner, then I hear I’m the frontrunner. If it doesn’t happen I think me and Callum should fight.”

Saunders and Smith are the undefeated WBO and WBA super-middleweight champions respectively.

Mexican superstar Canelo, a 56-fight veteran including two classic battles with Gennadiy Golovkin, most recently knocked out Sergey Kovalev to add light-heavyweight gold to his résumé.

But his next fight, traditionally scheduled on the Mexican holiday weekend of Cinco de Mayo, is likely to be back at middleweight or super-middle.

“I would go to Mexico, if they want, as long as they have got a fair square ring,” Saunders said. “Let’s see who the best is.

“I fear no man. If they want to fight, I’m ready to fight.

“I’m the WBO super-middleweight champion – he’s a three-weight world champion, not four like he keeps saying.

“I wanted to be busy, I wanted to be out mid-February but the Canelo fight got mentioned and you have to have patience. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.

“The problem is: I’ve been here before. I’ve been here twice with Gennadiy Golovkin, I’ve been here twice with Canelo. These big fights? I’ve been before and seen the carpet pulled [from under me].

“So I’m not excited. The only time I get excited is when I put pen to paper.”


But Saunders’ patience is running out. He added: “I’ve waited a long, long time. I’ll be seeing [promoter Eddie Hearn on Saturday] and saying: ‘If it isn’t working let’s get me another big fight’.”

Canelo has beaten five Brits – Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Amir Khan, Liam Smith and Rocky Fielding.

Saunders criticised Canelo’s consideration of Murata as his next opponent.

“Murata’s been beaten by two journeyman opponents. That’s letting the fans down.

“Let someone go in with Canelo who has a chance of beating him. Someone with the heart of a lion. Someone who will go in to win.

“Keep the money. I’d rather go home as the winner than take a plane-full of money home.

“I’m waiting on the call.”

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Smith told Soccer AM last weekend: “I think everyone is just waiting to see who Canelo picks.

“If it is me, I would be happy. If not, I’m in a good division, there’s a lot of big fights out there for me, outside of Canelo, so I’m in a good position. It’s just sitting and waiting and hopefully, we can get one of the big names sorted.

“Styles make fights. I think I’m a bit of a bad fight for him. I’m 6ft 3in, I’m a lot bigger than him, I can punch. Style-wise, I’m not ideal to fight, but I’m not taking anything away from ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, he’s a special fighter and he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world for a reason.

“I wouldn’t say he’s avoided me. I just think there’s a big list of opponents who want to fight him, so he’s got the choice of many, and he picks who he wants to fight. Whoever gets the job, takes it.”

Smith added that facing Saunders instead would be “a good domestic fight”.

Demetrius Andrade, the undefeated WBO middleweight champion, said after his recent win: “I’m willing to go up to 168 to fight Billy Joe Saunders in my next fight and that’s what I’m looking to do.”

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