Scottish Daily Mail



THE Wrecking Ball or the Artful Dodger? That is the wry question to be answered in this city called the Big D tonight.

‘This is no joke,’ scowls Billy Joe Saunders, whose bizarre sense of humour has got him into more trouble than he has ever run into in the ring. until now.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez concurs, saying: ‘This will be different and more serious than any fight he’s ever been in before.’

How true. The home of the Dallas Cowboys is the most dazzling high-tech stadium in the world. The 70,000-plus crowd drawn by Canelo will surpass Muhammad Ali’s record for pulling the biggest indoor gathering in uS boxing history and will comprise a majority of Hispanic fanatics.

Maverick Billy’s Mexican opponent is not only the No 1 pound-for-pound boxer on the planet but has grown into a nuclear-powered puncher. No laughing matter.

‘I’d lose my kids to beat Canelo,’ says Saunders. Which is not meant to be funny since he offers it as proof that overcoming Alvarez ‘means more to me than anything in my life’.

Watching what happens to Billy Joe if it is Canelo, not he, who wins to continue his quest to become the first undisputed super-middleweig­ht champion of the world, is unlikely to be amusing either. This testing contrast of boxing techniques and lifestyles is as big as it will ever get for Billy Joe. And he knows it.

‘This is the fight I’ve wanted in all the years since I turned pro,’ he says. ‘People say I don’t live right but here I am. undefeated in 30 fights. Two-time, two-division world champion. Think I’ll keep living wrong.

‘This fight is all about the brain. About executing the right game plan. Not about power. I believe victory here is my destiny because I have the skill set to beat Canelo.’

The rhetorical Alvarez riposte: ‘So he thinks he can give me a boxing lesson? We’ll see. I’m more mature, more experience­d than five or six years ago. Does he think the Mexican boxer has only one style? To get in there and trade? To get knocked down and get up? It’s much more than that. It’s about moving. Hitting but not getting hit. Do that and then the Mexican warrior inside us can make the difference.’

As for the larger canvas on which Saunders intends to paint his noble art, Canelo is a master of closing down the ring. Not that he expects an easy night, saying: ‘He is a southpaw. His speed makes him elusive and this will be a complicate­d fight. A difficult fight against a tricky mover for the first few rounds. Then I intend to knock him out so we won’t need the judges.’

Streaming LIVE on DAZN, approx 4am tomorrow UK time.

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