Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Canelo vs. Billy Joe Saunders, Old Badasses)
CANELO VS. SAUNDERS
I was reading previews of this weekend’s Canelo vs Saunders fight, and the consensus of opinion seems to be that Saunders has exactly the style to give Canelo some big problems on Saturday night.
Is this the kind of fight that Golden Boy might have steered Canelo away from, had that partnership endured?
I’m wondering if the free agent Canelo is a bit more cavalier about matchmaking than the version of Canelo that relied on a promoter to help guide his career.
Also, how do you see Canelo vs. Bernard Hopkins shaking out had they fought at 168? How about Saunders vs Hopkins? Thanks Dougie. – Gopal Rao
No disrespect to Canelo or Saunders but I think Hopkins would outpoint both men at 168 (a division he leap-frogged in 2006). Keep in mind, you’re bringing up an all-time great middleweight who was able to reign against the best light heavyweights while in his 40s. You name a boxing style and Hopkins faced it and in most cases mastered it.
Canelo could keep it competitive because of his ring command and punching power, variation and economy, but I still think B-Hop would be too fast, busy and mobile on the outside, and too tough and cagey in close, to allow any funny business with the official scorecards. Hopkins by close but clear UD. I think Nard would have some early rounds trouble with BJS but gradually rough him up on the inside once he closed the distance by the middle rounds (which he would) and punish him down the stretch of a one-sided UD. Sorry, Saunders is a good, crafty southpaw, but he’s not to the level of a Joe Calzaghe or Chad Dawson where I can imagine his style would give him a shot against the Immortal One.
I was reading previews of this weekend’s Canelo vs Saunders fight, and the consensus of opinion seems to be that Saunders has exactly the style to give Canelo some big problems on Saturday night. We’ll see. There’s no doubt that Saunders brings experience, skills and ring generalship to the big dance. He was a top-level amateur boxer and when he’s dialed-in he looks like an elite-level pro. However, when he’s looked elite, he wasn’t sharing the ring with elite boxers. No offense to David Lemieux, but he’s not in Canelo’s class. Neither was a fading Andy Lee, or the 18-0 version of Chris Eubank Jr., or Willie Monroe Jr., or 15-0 version of John Ryder, or the shopworn remains of Martin Murray, or any of the notable names on Billy Joe’s pro resume. I think a lot of fans and media who are expecting Canelo to have trouble with Saunders’ style are fooling themselves by comparing the Englishman to Erislandy Lara. BJS is talented but not on the level of the Cuban (especially the 2014 version of the world amateur champion, who was/is sharper and more elusive) and Canelo has drastically evolved over the past six years. We’ll see if the Mexican star has improved his ring-cutting prowess and attack against a mobile southpaw since facing Lara. My guess is that he has.
Is this the kind of fight that Golden Boy might have steered Canelo away from, had that partnership endured? I don’t think so. Canelo was always the boss, even when they were on the best of terms. He fought Lara when he did because HE wanted to. The good folks at Golden Boy thought that was a risky fight (and they were right) that could wait until later.
I’m wondering if the free agent Canelo is a bit more cavalier about matchmaking than the version of Canelo that relied on a promoter to help guide his career. Obviously, being a free agent opens up more opportunities to face the top super middleweights of the various promotional companies/broadcast platforms (mainly the PBC), but I think his willingness (or goal) to fight the best and unify the 168-pound division is due to his confidence, which is at an all-time high and deservedly so. To paraphrase the Godfather of Soul, Canelo’s paid the cost to be the boss.
A BJS WIN WOULDN’T BE THE BIGGEST UPSET EVER
Just gonna throw my English old school tuppence worth in on the Canelo/BJS fight.
I’m a long time Canelo fan, from before the Mayweather fight, although I got peeved with him around the initial negotiations for the GGG fight and thought GGG won both fights (GGG is my favourite fighter of the post-Mayweather era).
I’ve read a few times that if BJS wins, it’ll be the biggest upset of all time. No way does anything (including Ruiz spanking AJ) ever top Tyson losing to Buster. I watched that again a few months ago and knowing the result, listening to the commentary was brilliant.
Canelo is a huge favourite, and rightfully so after the guys he’s been beating lately. Let’s not forgot that Callum Smith may have been the underdog but was the undefeated Ring Magazine champ and Krusher is one of the biggest punchers of the last 10 years.
People talk about BJS getting walked through, but he has skills, is a former Olympian and two weight world champion. Whilst Billy doesn’t have huge power, he has enough to earn respect and is so awkward defensively when tuned in (and he looked ripped the other day).
Canelo is a good puncher and rightly number one P4P, but by no means is he the second coming of Julian Jackson.
I would be surprised, but not shocked with any result other than a Canelo points win or late stoppage and see BJS as a live underdog.
Would an upset be the biggest shock ever? Not for me, I consider the big shocks ones where a supposed no hoper does something that no-one could comprehend (AKA Buster, The Raggamuffin Man, Kirkland Laing).
BJS ain’t a no hoper, he’s an unknown and at times unimpressive.
No salty here. – James L
You are definitely not a member of the #Salty Society, James. I can see that. You give Canelo credit where it’s due. The #Salty set can’t bring themselves to do that.
And I agree that Saunders is far from a “no-hoper.” He’s a legit super middleweight standout. The man didn’t get to 30-0 as a pro by accident. He can box is ass off and he’s got the right attitude for an underdog (which is to not give a f__k.) There’s a lot that I like about Billy Joe’s ring presence and ability: He’s relaxed but he’s got eyes and decent upper-body movement. He’s got an educated jab, and a fast, fluid left cross. He’s got good lateral movement and control of distance. It definitely would not be the biggest upset ever if he outpointed Canelo.
Whoever’s saying that isn’t paying attention to the odds. Saunders is a 4-1 or 5-1 underdog in most places. To put that in context Evander Holyfield opened as a 25-1 underdog when he first challenged Mike Tyson. (I think it dropped to around 17-1 by fight time.) A lot of sports books wouldn’t even post odds on Tyson-Douglas. I think Buster was a 42-1 underdog.
I’m a long time Canelo fan, from before the Mayweather fight, although I got peeved with him around the initial negotiations for the GGG fight and thought GGG won both fights (GGG is my favourite fighter of the post-Mayweather era). That’s fair.
Canelo is a huge favourite, and rightfully so after the guys he’s been beating lately. Facing Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev and Callum Smith in his last six bouts ain’t too shabby.
Let’s not forgot that Callum Smith may have been the underdog but was the undefeated Ring Magazine champ and Krusher is one of the biggest punchers of the last 10 years. The #Salty Society will wail that Kovalev is a “has-been” and Smith is a “never-will-be” but none of their favorite fighters from 160-168 are lining up to fight the giant Liverpudlian or any light heavyweight.
People talk about BJS getting walked through, but he has skills, is a former Olympian and two weight world champion. Well, let’s just say he’s a two-division titleholder. He outpointed an aging Andy Lee for his 160-pound WBO belt, but who did he beat for the vacant 168-pound strap? Seriously, I couldn’t tell you without checking Boxrec. Canelo’s legit multi-division champion.
Whilst Billy doesn’t have huge power, he has enough to earn respect and is so awkward defensively when tuned in (and he looked ripped the other day). There’s no doubt in my mind that Saunder’s is in the best condition he get his body in, but even if he’s in the best shape of his life, he’s still got technical flaws that Canelo can exploit. Yes, he’s got “awkward defensive” prowess, as you put noted, but it’s his offense that I’m concerned about it. I just don’t think it will be enough to dissuade or outpoint Canelo. BJS has a nice jab and 1-2 combo, and he’ll occasionally sneak an uppercut where he sees fit, but there’s not a lot of variation with his offense. Meanwhile, Canelo’s going to be walking him down with authority. The Mexican’s technique is going to be tight and every punch is going to be thrown with punishing leverage and intent. The jab’s gonna be a shotgun. The combos are going to be explosive to the body (including BJ’s arms) and head. The counterpunches are going to be quick and well timed. And Canelo’s not going to be easy to hit in return. His head- and upper-body movement rival Billy Joe’s, and he’s good and blocking and picking off shots.
Canelo is a good puncher and rightly number one P4P, but by no means is he the second coming of Julian Jackson. Nobody is, and that includes Deontay Wilder and Naoya Inoue.
I would be surprised, but not shocked with any result other than a Canelo points win or late stoppage and see BJS as a live underdog. That’s fair. I think Canelo will win a clear UD in a competitive match.
Boxing has a well-earned reputation for being “No Sport for Old Men”. But every now and then, I as a fan come across an aged fighter or two who remind me of the old saying, “Beware the old man in a profession where men die young”. I think of guys like Archie Moore, George Foreman, Bernard Hopkins, and (most recently) Manny Pacquiao. Who are some fighters you think of when you hear that expression? – Greg K.
Roberto Duran is the first name that comes to mind because he was the first “old man” – which in the 1980s was a fighter in his mid-to-late 30s – who was still a player, fighting regularly on TV and involved in closed circuit events, back when I was a teen fan. He was 37 when he upset Iran Barkley for the WBC middleweight title in 1989. That performance was the epitome of “Skill, Brains & Guts” (the name of a popular Muhammad Ali tribute VHS tape), a true master class. He was a regular on the USA Network’s “Tuesday Night Fight” series during his 40s, in the early to mid-‘90s, which led to a pair of PPV showdowns with Vinny Pazienza in 1994 and 1994 (which he lost, but the first bout was pretty competitive – and entertaining).
Foreman followed Duran, and Larry Holmes followed Big George. If you want to see a ballsy boxing clinic conducted by an old badass, please check out the 12-round UD that the 42-year-old former champ scored against then-unbeaten 1988 Olympic gold medalist Ray Mercer in 1992.
Moore, Hopkins and Foreman are obviously the Holy Trinity of old badasses in boxing lore, but Holmes and some of my all-time favorite boxers, including Sugar Ray Robinson, Jersey Joe Walcott, James Toney, Erik Morales and Mike McCallum could occupy Mount Olympus with those three Timeless Titans.
Robinson took on fellow future hall of famers Bobo Olson, Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio when he was in his mid-30s during the 1950s. He regained the title, lost it, regained it, lost it again and regained it again during that multi-bout series that included thrilling shootouts (vs. Olson), an all-time great KO (vs. Fullmer) and the 1957 and 1958 Fight of the Year (vs. Basilio). Robinson was 39 years old when he held Fullmer to a draw (that most ringside press thought he deserved to win) in their third bout in December 1960. It wasn’t just his age that made the performance so impressive, it was the number of fights he had at the time (his record was 144-8-2 going into the rubber match).
Walcott was in his late 30s (which in the early 1940s was like being in his late 40s) when he took on Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano in the final five bouts of his hall-of-fame career. He was 37 when he KO’d Charles (with a near-perfect left hook in Round 7) for the heavyweight crown, a record that would stand for 43 years (Foreman finally broke it in 1994).
Toney was in his mid-30s when he earned The Ring’s 2003 Fighter of the Year award by beating Vassiliy Jirov (in the BWAA’s Fight of the Year) and Evander Holyfield.
Morales was in his mid-30s when he gave Marcos Maidana hell and stopped Pablo Cesar Cano to win a major world title in a fourth weight class.
McCallum was in his mid-30s for his first two battles with a young James Toney. The Body-Snatcher was 37 when he beat Jeff Harding for the WBC light heavyweight title. He was 39 vs. Roy Jones Jr. and 40 for his third bout with Toney in the final two bouts of his hall-of-fame career.
Shane Mosley also comes to mind. He was in his mid-to-late 30s when he outworked Luis Collazo, gave Miguel Cotto hell, and stopped both Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito.
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