WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders 30-0 (14) has the skills and mental acuity to defeated WBC and WBA super-middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 55-1-2 (37) when they meet in May 8, according to his trainer Mark Tibbs.
Mexican superstar Alvarez, 30, cleared the path for the unification bout with an easy third-round stoppage of WBC mandatory contender Avni ‘Mr. Robot’ Yildirim 21-3 (12) at the Gard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on Saturday night.
Englishman Saunders, 31, is coming off an easy 12-round points decision over veteran Martin Murray 39-6-1 (19) in London in December.
Alvarez has struggled with slick southpaws in the past, fighting nip-and-tuck battles with Austin Trout in 2013 and Erislandy Lara in 2014. Saunders is another lefty.
“As soon as I got back involved with Billy Joe Saunders for the Murray fight, I recognized immediately the maturity in his body and in his strength and also in his thinking,” Tibbs told the Betfred Boxing Show.
“He’s always been strong-minded and he’s always been a phenomenal trainer but he needs to be reminded he’s a slick, free-thinking fighter and we couldn’t take that away from him in any way. He knows he’s got the intelligence and knowhow, stylistically, to take on someone like Canelo Alvarez.
“We can box around, we can diffuse and take away power and exploit areas. There’s another way of fighting. Billy Joe can, and perhaps he will do, diffuse them missiles and exploit the openings, and set traps ourselves, make him fall short, encourage him to swing.
“It’s all about boxing, outfoxing, chipping and clipping. It’s about pulling off a perfect game plan and I believe Billy Joe Saunders will do that on May 8th.”
Saunders split from Tibbs and his father Jimmy Tibbs back in 2016 but rejoined the father-son training team ahead of his last fight.
“When Billy Joe Saunders won his middleweight world title in 2015, my father was Billy Joe’s main trainer and we decided as a team to take him to mainland Spain for warm-weather training and mainly to hold a bit of focus,” Tibbs said.
“So it was eaten, sleep, train, eat, sleep, train, sometimes rest and cover. When he was touching on big-time boxing, it was very difficult at home because you get friends and family that want to see and be in touch with Billy Joe. So that cycle, that training, the professional, elite training regime was broken quite often keeping him in England.
“When we took Billy Joe Saunders in 2015 to the MGM gym in Spain, now the MTK, I believe he’s not broke that cycle ever since. So, I think he’s adopted that and excelled in going abroad to warm weather training. It works for some, it doesn’t work for everybody but it’s working for Billy Joe Saunders right now.
“It’s always nice to wake up when the sun is shining in the winter months and preparing for a fight, so that’s why we’re here in the Canary Islands.”
Former WBO middleweight champion Saunders won the vacant WBO 168-pound title against Shefat Isufi in 2019 and made his inaugural defense against Marcelo Esteban Coceres the same year before defending against Murray three months ago.
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