The battle for super-middleweight supremacy between Mexican Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (55-1-2, 37KOs) and Briton Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs) takes place on the Cinco de Mayo weekend at The AT&T Stadium in Texas, with 70,000 fans looking on.
Canelo is pound-for-pound No.1 and Saunders is an unbeaten two-weight world champion. The WBC (and a commemorative WBC Mestizo belt), WBA 'Super', WBO and Ring Magazine super-middleweight titles are on the line for the victor, but who will that be? BBN asked our panel of experts, consisting of boxers, legends, trainers, managers and writers, for their predictions on the mega-fight:
WBC World heavyweight champion
“I think Billy Joe gives him a boxing lesson. That’s what I’m here to see and that’s what I think will happen. I think everyone raves on about Canelo and how good he is and how he’s such a great guy but I just think every time Billy Joe steps into the pressure cooker he delivers, much like myself.”
Undisputed lightweight champion
“Looking forward to the fight at the weekend. It’s hard to call but if pushed I’d go for Canelo by a late stoppage.”
Undisputed lisuper-welterweight champion
“So, I think Canelo and Billy Joe are both unique fighters. It’s hard to go against Canelo for anyone. I believe Billy Joe will present some problems with his movement & grit early on, but I think Canelo with his smarts and power will figure Billy Joe out and use his great defense and offense to drop Saunders once or twice to win a unanimous or majority decision. I see the fight going all 12 because I just don’t see any quit in Billy Joe.”
WBO middleweight champion
“I think it’s a good fight for boxing, but I should be the one fighting Billy Joe and the winner gets to fight Canelo.”
Former World cruiserweight champion
"I feel the fight will be a great fight, it has the potential to go either way, however I would have to go with Canelo points win."
Southern Area middleweight champion
“I’ve done over 40 rounds with this man in just a couple of weeks and let me tell you Billy is looking the best I’ve ever seen him; he’s focused, sharp and very strong. I believe he has every skill in the book to beat Canelo and frustrate him badly.
If he stays focused for 12 rounds, he beats Canelo Alvarez. Skills pay the bills and he’s a great champion and a true gent.”
"A couple of years ago, I would have backed Billy Joe for the upset but I think Canelo has taken it to a completely new level over the last few years.
I’m going for a Canelo KO or very wide points decision depending on what the game plan is for Saunders, hope BJS can prove me wrong, however!"
Welsh Area super-lightweight champion
"I really hope Billy Joe does it. He’s such a great boxer, Canelo has hopefully stepped up in weight a bit too much for someone with that much talent.
It’ll be an awesome contest no matter what."
Three-weight Southern Area champion
"I feel like it is a fantastic fight on paper, but the British boxing fans have jumped on the bandwagon a little bit and, in doing so, forgetting how good Canelo is.
I think Billy Joe Saunders will put up a fantastic fight and cause Canelo a few problems for the first six to eight rounds, though I feel Canelo will eventually walk through him and stop in between rounds eight and 12.
Billy is a fantastic fighter, a wonderful technician, and will definitely be a world champion again, but for me Canelo is a different breed and has to be P4P number one right now."
"I think Billy can pull it off, I'm going to have a little bet on him too.
I want Billy to win and I know Canelo is a world-class fighter and is definitely going to bring the pain, but Billy can box, he's a good mover. Canelo has been dominating for so long, but feel like out of the selection of opponents for him, Billy is the most trickiest there is, very slick, and he's a travelling man, so he's a born fighter.
Billy has got the fighting movement and skills, he's just got to put it all on the line. He won't knock Canelo out, so it will have to be on points. When Canelo got hit with a Golovkin clean shot, he just shook it off.
Billy Joe to win on points."
British Challenge Belt champion
"For me, it has to be Canelo on a late stoppage, taking nothing away from Saunders, he's a great fighter, but I think it’s a big ask for him."
"I really want BJS to win, we could see a Billy Joe Saunders win, and I think everyone in the UK wants to see it as well, apart from Chris Eubank Jr.
I think Canelo will slow him down and stop him around rounds eight to nine due to Saunders' inactivity and recent move up to super-middleweight. I don't feel he is as elusive as he was a middleweight, but I'm fully supporting Billy on the night."
Former Masters champion
"I’m a big fan of Billy Joe, love his style and feel like he’s the only person who can pose Canelo problems at the moment.
But right now, Canelo is just on another level to everyone. He’s not only got all the skills, but physically he’s a beast.
I think Billy Joe will give him some problems early on with his movement and style, but Canelo will close the distance, cut off the ring and take over.
I think Canelo wins a unanimous decision."
Former Southern Area champion
"I think Canelo is unbeatable right now, I hope I’m wrong but I think Saunders gets stopped round 5-6. This is nothing to do with how good Saunders is, it’s how great canelo is…"
Retired pro boxer
"Billy Joe is one of my favourite fighters and is, without doubt, world class!
On his night I think he can outbox anyone, maybe with the exception of Canelo Alvarez.
I’m never afraid to call it for an outsider, but the Mexican is special.
I can’t see Billy Joe trading with him, Alvarez is too strong. I’ve seen the issues with ring size, which will be key as Saunder’s is likely to be on the move for the full 12 rounds. That doesn’t score points though and Canelo closes the ring down well.
I can’t see him tagging Billy Joe clean enough to stop him, unless he tires in the championship rounds. I’ll go for Canelo on a close points decision."
Tyson Fury's trainer
"Billy Joe Saunders can't try to outbox Canelo - he has to go for the knockout. That is the only way to win. Why not go for the knockout against Canelo? The best way to know that you won that fight for sure is to get the knockout - in fact, that is the only way.
There is nothing else to do. He can outbox someone for 10 or 12 rounds and the decision goes the other way still because it’s somebody else's opinion and decision. So why can't Billy be the deciding factor? But it takes a lot more than just saying it, you have got to know how to put it together. You can think about the knockout all you want, but you’ve got to know how to actually do it.
This is the only way. Shoot for the stars and if you fall short you’ll at least land on the moon - is that how the saying it goes? Why would you have a plan or a thought to say that 'I'm going to go in there and outbox a guy for 10 rounds'? Why the hell would I think something like that? I’m selling myself short. Why would Billy not go in there and try and knock this mother------ out? That’s my mentality.
At least if you do that and come up short, you’ve tried every round. You have tried to dominate Canelo by throwing hard shots - and yes, maybe you don’t get the knockout, maybe he was too tough. But if you settle to outbox Canelo for 12 rounds - you don’t pass. If you’re reaching for something higher and fall short, you still pass. That’s what I love doing and that is what I teach. I love putting that plan together. That’s the only thing I know."
"It's the final week, for me this is fight of the year, and on these last few days ahead of fight night, we will have a lot of updates and developments during these final days.
It was rumoured that Saunders will pull out of this fight, but now everybody can see that the fight will happen. In the contract, they had agreement also about the ring dimensions, Team Saunders asked for big ring, minimum 24ft ring. They say that after the visiting the venue, they have been told the ring is only 20ft. Team Saunders says they will fight in a ring no less that 22 ft. According to all this, I see both strategies. Canelo wants a small ring, to make fight from close, inside to use his force. In another way, I see Saunders wants to fight at distance.
My opinion is that Canelo will win by Unanimous Decision, but will not be easy. Its going to be great fight. Maybe only Joshua and Fury can be bigger then this fight this year."
"Callum Smith and lots others all the say the same thing about Canelo - that they wasn't prepared for how good he actually was when they stepped in the ring with him. This is coming from world champions, who have been No.1, so it shows what level Canelo is on. He is a level above world champions and is P4P No.1 for a reason.
Personally, I think a fighting man like Billy Joe Saunders has already experienced every fighter and fighting style in the world, and I don't believe this will be the case for him; I think he is going into this fight fully prepared.
He also looks in the best shape possible so he's treating this as the biggest fight of his career, where he has been frustratingly complacent in the past. Back with Mark Tibbs will also be another big advantage for him, to have the best trainer in the UK in his corner.
Saunders is so hard to catch clean, so I would be very surprised if Canelo can KO him like he did to Amir Khan. Saunders is never going to wn this fight by knockout, so he will have to dance his way to a points win, but how often do away opponents get decisions against Canelo in America?
I think Saunders will start very sharply, Canelo struggles with movers and evasive styles, so it could take him six rounds or more to get his game plan going, but he has proven to be a master of tactics recently, like against Kovalev where he demonstrated patience to score that 11th round KO. I think he will have the same mindset in this fight, where he knows he will have to be tolerant and focused until he can begin to get some success. I think he may be prepared to give away the first half of the fight and to turn the heat up in the second half where I think Saunders will really feel the pressure. I hope Saunders will be in his stride by then and moving fluidly and confidently to rack up the rounds.
What I hope for is an outstanding, career-best performance from Saunders to stun everyone, and take the fight the distance, where I would expect a biased judging panel to deny him the victory. All I am allowing myself to hope for is for Billy to give a good account of himself, that is my one wish... I hope it comes true."
"I think Canelo will struggle with Saunders slick, evasive style for the first six rounds, but eventually start to break him down and have success in the second half.
He won't be able to stop him and it will be a close fight on the cards where Canelo gets the decision.
Billy Joe Saunders will not trade with Canelo and will try and move as much as possible. If Canelo can't pin him down he could be in for a very tough night."
"I can't see past Canelo at the moment. Moving up the weight divisions and beating the likes of Callum Smith has proved how legit a boxer he is, if we didn't already know.
If this fight had happened a few years ago, after Saunders had looked great against Lemieux, then I might have been more inclined to back Saunders, however they have fought different level of fighters in recent years, Saunders beating Adamu, Isufi, Coceres and Murray. In his past four fights, Canelo has faced Jacobs, Kovalev, Smith and Yildirim.
Saunders is looking in great shape and I'd love to see him win but can't see it at this period in time."
"Canelo wins this one.
He has become so sharp, honed his skills and can now apply them effectively against any style. The Mexican loves the sport, he has remained more active than any other boxer in the past six months and lives the life of a Spartan.
Billy Joe has been a disappointment over the past few years. Whilst being undoubtedly talented, with a nice southpaw jab, lateral movement and footwork; I can't see how he can keep Canelo off him for longer than four rounds.
Although Saunders has a good jab, Canelo is an excellent body puncher. I think he will time Billy's jab with thudding shots to the body, which will take their toll on the Englishman and limit his ability to be evasive.
It will he straightforward from the middle rounds onwards as Canelo cruises his way to a unanimous points victory."
"Everyone in boxing knows that Billy Joe has the potential to be an absolute nightmare for Canelo this Saturday night in Dallas.
Saunders cannot afford to put a foot wrong against the pound-for-pound champion, ensuring the Mexican’s gloves do not lay claim to any meaningful punches, whilst swiftly and severely countering with spite, power, and precision in equal measure."
Co-Founder of buymyfight.com
"I’ve not been this excited for a fight in a very long time. Obviously, Canelo is superb and frighteningly devastating at his prime right now and will be the favourite; however I do think that Billy Joe Saunders is about the best challenge he is ever going to get.
The thing about Billy Joe is that he rises and falls dependent on the fighter in front of him. When you think of his fights against Artur Akavov, and Shefat Isufi, he hardly turned up himself. Then look back to David Lemieux and notably it was a masterclass.
I think we’ll see the best Billy Joe Saunders yet come Sunday morning and whilst I’m betting against the odds, I’ll be backing a BJS points win.
Whilst that’s where my money is, what I really think will happen is Billy Joe Saunders will do well enough to convince the viewers of a clear points win, but Canelo will win the judges over on the night which leads to years of debate in many gents barber shops around the world."
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Canelo to win: 83.33%
Saunders to win: 16.66%