Sport

Saunders pulls out of working to stand Canelo in September

WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders will not face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a rescheduled title fight in September.

The pair had been due to meet in the ring in Las Vegas on May 2, but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to those plans.

Saunders (29-0) has withdrawn from discussions over meeting four-weight champion Canelo (53-1-2) on September 12 – the weekend of Mexico’s Independence Day – due to an inability to train effectively during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I’m not ready [in] September. You can say to me, ‘Billy Joe, a billion pounds, but you’re not ready and you’re going to get beat.’ I would say keep it. Let me get ready, let me win and I will fight for free,” Saunders told The Athletic.

“I’m nobody’s stepping stone. I’m not another belt for Canelo. They want to try mind games; that don’t work with me, I play the biggest mind games in British boxing.

“Would I like [Canelo’s] business? I would love it. Do I need his business? No, I don’t.

“I was going to be spot on [for May 2]. I was probably a couple weeks ahead of schedule, but it is what it is.”

Of the situation he was in during lockdown, he added: “Every gym was closed, and my grandparents are very elderly, I live next door to them. There were a few [health] scares. 75 per cent of my time [was dedicated] to her, I couldn’t leave the place, I had my kids every other day.”

Saunders was reportedly set to earn $8million for the title fight with Canelo in May and was not impressed by the figures being suggested for a behind-closed-doors bout in September.

“If they think they’re going to cut my money and cut me short, that’s not going to happen,” Saunders said.

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“Considering he’s getting $35million, they come to me for a pay cut in September? They want to get short notice and a pay cut. Why not him take a pay cut?”

A return in October to shake off any potential ring rust is planned before Saunders takes on a more high-profile opponent in December.

The 30-year-old would relish a chance to take on middleweight king Demetrius Andrade (29-0), who he missed out on a fight with in 2018 due to a failed drugs test.

“That’s the fight I would want, I would love the fight. There’s unfinished business with me and him,” said Saunders.

“I think he’s a non-top fighter. When it’s gone his way he looks good, when not his way he can’t get going. When I fight him, we both have skills. It’ll be my heart versus his heart.”

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