By Frank Warren
EVENTS IN THE early hours of Sunday morning demonstrated once again that size does matter in the sport of boxing.
The richly skilled ringcraft of Billy Joe Saunders was just not enough to knock the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez bandwagon off course. Put simply, he is just too big and too strong at the weight, along with the many others he has campaigned at across his 59-fight career. And he can fight a bit too, I should add.
I always believed Billy Joe stood a good chance against the formidable Mexican at middleweight, where he is naturally built for the division and would be very hard to beat. At super middle it is a different story and, whereas he carried respectable power at 160lbs, he didn’t carry enough clout up to the weight above.
Saying all that, against anyone else other than Canelo, Bill would probably not have been found wanting. He showed, once again, what we know he has got and that is a world class talent, along with a solid chin. But he was just unable to land anything likely to deter or put a dent in the bigger man.
I fully endorse the decision to spare Bill from any further punishment after damage was inflicted to his eye socket in the eighth round. The immediate and longer term wellbeing of a fighter always trumps any macho bravado in my book.
Of course, Bill was then right in the eye of an online storm, similar to the one that engulfed Daniel Dubois at the end of November when he sensibly took himself out of the firing line after suffering extensive eye damage.
Quite naturally, fans and viewers have an opinion on such things and will vent their thoughts across various platforms. What was disturbing in the case of Daniel was fellow pros piling in calling him a quitter when he had sustained a sight-threatening injury.
Daniel’s bravery couldn’t be questioned either, given that his eye quickly started to close in the second round and he continued until the 10th. Maybe those individuals who stuck the boot in back then thought better of it this time around, or was it just that Billy Joe now fights under a different promotional banner?
Whatever the case, all fighters should be united in pushing a safety first message because next time it could be one of them stricken and in need of protecting.
An interested pair of eyes glued to watching Canelo in full swing would have been our super middleweight contender Zach Parker, who currently occupies the No.1 spot with the WBO and will be in line for a shot at the belt soon enough.
I don’t think scouting reports are an urgent priority because Canelo’s intentions are clear, in that he aims to add the IBF title to make it a full set and become an undisputed champion at the weight. To do that, Caleb Plant will need to be booked for his next appointment, while the WBO have yet to call for a mandatory challenge.
Zach will only benefit from keeping busy and increasing his top-level experience in the meantime. Also, I would suspect that, once Canelo has completed the super middleweight jigsaw, he will move on to other targets and the belts will become fragmented again.
That being said, Zach does fancy the job of jumping in with Canelo, believing that his slick style, height and bludgeoning power give him as good a chance as any to knock the champ off his perch.
We will see how it all plays out and plan accordingly, but it would be a surprise to nobody if Canelo declared the light heavyweight division to be his next battleground, with Sergey Kovalev already accounted for.
I do find it incredible how American-based fighters navigate through the weights with such success. Canelo launched his professional career weighing less than 10 stone and has subsequently enjoyed huge physical advantages over opponents as he has come up as far as light heavyweight, to date.
Maybe one day he will come unstuck. But, until such a time comes around, we should enjoy watching a great champion at work.