Two-weight world champion Billy Joe Saunders (29-0, 14KOs), trained by Mark Tibbs, is preparing to meet with pound-for-pound no.1 Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (55-1-2, 37KOs) on May 8 in Texas.
The two super-middleweight world champions will clash for the WBC, WBA Super, WBO and Ring titles, live on DAZN at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
However, with just weeks to go, the 31-year-old from Hatfield has revealed that Team Canelo has backed out on a few of the stipulations they agreed upon in the fight contracts.
He told IFL TV in a recent interview, “Well, I’m a bit disappointed because he’s already planning venues for the Caleb Plant fight, then he [Eddie Hearn] also told me the other day – I did this deal on the basis of an English judge, American judge and Mexican judge – then when he come here the other day he said there were no English officials allowed, so you know I’ve still not got to the bottom of that yet; I’m not happy, I’m waiting to hear something back from someone but that’s unacceptable because it’s not a level playing field straightway is it?
“I stuck to my end of the deal, first of all it was less money over crowds, no crowds there, next thing I know there’s 70,000, but I’m not doing this for money, I’ve got enough to feed my kids, to pay the bills, I’m ok; to keep thinking they can keep changing the goalposts is a prick’s move.
“When it comes to business I’m a very straight man and I stick to my word. It’s all a load of bollocks, it’s all a load of rubbish!”
The Texas Combative Sports Program, which regulates boxing in that state, ultimately will choose the judges it assigns to the Alvarez-Saunders bout. Like most state and tribal commissions in the United States, the Texas commission has afforded Saunders and Alvarez opportunities to object to judges submitted into the pool of possible officials for their fight.
Commissions aren’t obligated to remove judges or referees to whom boxers object, but those officials typically are eliminated from the pool to avoid controversy on fight night.
Promoter Eddie Hearn tried to clear up some confusion in an interview with IFL TV, “Maybe where the problem is when we originally discussed the fight, we talked about having a British judge, a Mexican judge and an American judge. Now we’re just having three neutral judges. But the contract that Billy Joe signed clearly states no Mexican [judge], no British [judge], neutral judges. And they will have the opportunity to look at those judges, and if they have an objection, they can do that through the commission.
“So, I explained that to Billy. I explained that to Tom [Billy's father] in Vegas. It was taken on board and the panel will be sent to those guys. Now, you know, this was something that was discussed with their team. It was something that was papered. This was something that was signed for. There’s no moving of goal posts.”
Despite the Brit boxer's concerns, he shrugged it all off, stating “But listen, it is what it is, I’ve been very quiet but I’m not blind, let’s just forget about, I’ll move on and I’ll let the full world see what I can do on the night.”
He continued to discuss the biggest night of his 12-year career, “Three weeks to go its roll the dice time sink or swim time and it’s a lifechanging moment so go in there and see how we go.
“It’s gym home rest, its no holiday for us. But it’s the fun part of the job, we’re here were in the sun, the excitement here were in Vegas were in fight city. Drive past all these big buildings and think I could be fighting in one of these buildings next.
“We’re not here to take part, that’s for sure not here just to go there and play a role, I wouldn’t be gone away from my family and missing time for my kids for nearly four months just to pick a cheque up. Im looking to definitely get that win.”
Saunders was initially trained by Mark’s father Jimmy Tibbs from the start of his career in 2009 right up to winning the WBO World middleweight title against Andy Lee (35-3-1, 24KOs) in December 2015. The history-making fight was the first time that both fighters involved in a world championship contest were from the travelling community.
Saunders is no stranger to making history when he became the first person from the British Romany Gypsy community to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2008.
His heritage is what he believes will seperate him from Canelo's previous victims over the years. “I’m doing this for my three sons and my little daughter; as a fanbase, I am fighting for the gypsy people - English, Irish, Scot, Welsh, American... you name it, this is for all of us.
“Canelo is a very very good fighter, he's pound for pound the best there is, no hiding that, but hes never been up against a travelling man yet.
“I've done everything in my power to make sure I'm in the best shape for this fight, so come fight night we’ll see where I'm at and how good I am.”