Billy Joe Saunders’ upcoming super-middleweight unification bout against WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine champion Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez at the AT&T Stadium in Texas presents the Briton with the perfect opportunity to really prove his worth on the world stage.
Despite the fact that Saunders is a two-weight world champion, there is a real sense within the boxing community that the current WBO super-middleweight champion is yet to live up to his true potential, but should he overcome the challenge of Canelo, defying the Saul Alvarez v Billy Joe Saunders odds in the process, then boxing fans around the world will have no choice but to sit up and take notice of the 31-year-old.
With Canelo widely considered as the best fighter in the world right now, Saunders will certainly have his work cut out. However, the Hertfordshire native boasts an impressive record of his own (30-0), and if he shows up in his best form, then he will be no pushover.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of Saunders’ most recent displays.
Martin Murray – win via unanimous decision
An all-British encounter with Martin Murray at the SSE Arena, Wembley in December was Saunders’ only fight of 2020. The 31-year-old entered the ring as the heavy 1/25 favourite, but it didn’t turn out to be as straightforward as he would have liked. He controlled the fight and gave the 38-year-old little leverage to try and get a foothold in the bout. However, despite making Murray stumble in the fourth round, Saunders was unable to end the fight, and, in the end, he won comfortably on the scorecards (120-109, 120-109, 118-110). Saunders admitted afterwards that the level of opponent and the lack of fans played a part in the uninspiring performance.
Marcelo Esteban Coceres – win via knockout
A bout against Marcelo Esteban Coceres on the undercard of KSI vs Logan Paul II at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles was Saunders first defence of his WBO super-middleweight title. Again, he was heavily backed to win in the boxing betting tips on Betfair’s blog, yet the task of beating Coceres proved more difficult than expected. In unusual fashion, Saunders came out of the blocks firing for the first few rounds, really pilling the pressure on the Argentine, but it was to no real avail. Coceres began to get back into the fight in the middle rounds. However, it was still Saunders who looked the more likely to win of the pair. In the 11th, the Briton finally made a breakthrough, knocking Coceres to the canvas with a strong body shot. The then 28-year-old was able to carry on but was later knocked out in the same round.
Shefat Isufi – win via unanimous decision
Saunders comfortably beat Shefat Isufi on scorecards (120-108, 117-111, 118-110) to win the vacant WBO super-middleweight title at the Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, which is just 10 miles from his hometown of Welwyn Garden City. Aside from being shaken up by a strong right from Isufi in the sixth round, it was a dominant display from Saunders, who threw some good combinations and showed some fine movement.