WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders 30-0 (14) believes he has the boxing IQ to defeat WBC and WBA counterpart Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 55-1-2 (37) when they meet at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night.
“This fight is all about the brain,” said Saunders ahead of his fight against the 30-year-old Mexican superstar. “Not about power, muscle or skill, it’s the brain and the game plan, and being able to execute that game plan.
“I brush opinions off because I know what goes through my head and my mind, and what I have done in my career is through the will and want to win, and the day I lose that, I won’t put a pair of gloves again.
“I can only control what I am in control of and that myself, not what is outside the ring. It’s going to be a great fight it’s one I’ve wanted for years and it’s finally landed. There’s a lot at stake for both of us. Would I like my fans there? Yes. Would I like UK media there? Yes. If the fight was moved to the Mexican border I wouldn’t care.
“I have my own way of approaching the fight and Canelo will have too, he’s done this nearly 60 times. I’ll get in there as the best that I can be and that’s all I can control.
“I’ve been the underdog before, I’ve been the away fighter before, it’s not a new position, but I’m just in with a better opponent this time.
“If I go in there and I win, I’m not going to run and say never again, I’ll fight him again, I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t bother me. It’s good for boxing sometimes when the underdogs come through, and I don’t just mean me here, because it puts the sport on a higher platform to be watched.
“I’m at the top of the tree where I’ve done it all as an amateur, I’ve had 30 fights, I’m unbeaten, won every title coming through, two-weight world champion – I can sit back at night and say I’m top of the pile fighting the pound-for-pound king.”
But SugarHill Steward, who co-trains Saunders’ friend and fellow traveler Tyson Fury alongside Andy Lee, insists the only way for the 31-year-old British southpaw to win is by knockout.
“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,” Steward told MyBettingSite.co.uk.
“There is nothing else to do. He can outbox someone for ten 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 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 ten 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 motherfucker 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.”
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