When Canelo Alvarez steps into the ring against Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday night, it will be a larger ring than he originally intended for it to be.
We are not sure if there was talk about that issue during contract negotiations, because there is indication that anything had been agreed upon ahead of time.
But as BetOnline customers who follow boxing are probably aware, it took a threat to pull out on the part of Saunders to move the ring away from something that would have favored Alvarez to one that was much more to his liking.
So how much will he be able to take advantage of that? That is perhaps the main question going into this fight, which takes place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, otherwise known as "The House That Jerry Jones Built."
The reason for the question is that Saunders' style almost mandates that he be able to maneuver as much as possible, and the more he can do that, the better the chance he's going to have to win the fight.
Anyone who has seen Saunders knows that he's got skills. And he's capable of imposing this style on Alvarez, under the right circumstances.
So does a 22-foot ring, as has ultimately been settled upon, give him those circumstances?
Oddsmakers at BetOnline have established Canelo as a big favorite, in this bout, which will be shown as part of DAZN's streaming service:
WBA-WBC-WBO Super Middleweight Title
Canelo Alvarez (WBA-WBC champ) -650
Billy Joe Saunders (WBO champ) +475
Over 10.5 Rounds -150
Under 10.5 Rounds +130
Alvarez, of course, is one of those guys who has found that the way to create excitement, opportunities and money is to continually move in weight class. He started as a welterweight and eventually wound up in the light heavyweight division.
There is invariably a time when a fighter moves up too far. Has Canelo arrived at that place? Possibly, if it means fighting someone who can overcome him with power and box a little. Saunders - who is 30-0 with only 14 wins inside the distance - doesn't really fit that description. He has sharpness and savvy as a boxer, to be certain. And he may be able to confuse Alvarez to some extent.
But ultimately he doesn't punch hard enough. It's that simple. Saunders can create some distance and shoot from the outside, but if he can't hit Canelo with enough pop to keep him at bay, Alvarez is going to close the distance on him.
This may or may not happen quickly. If it happens sooner than later, that may impact whether Alvarez can take him out inside the distance.
This dispute over the ring size almost put this fight in jeopardy. Or at least it appeared to. Promoter Eddie Hearn actually had John Ryder, a Brit, on call in case Saunders followed through on his threats to pull out of the fight.
Obviously there was a strategic objective there. We know that Saunders can implement a game plan better with a 22-foot ring than an 18-foot ring. And he actually wanted a ring that is 24 feet square. He's not wrong to try to get the best deal for himself. But it wasn't necessarily a deal-killer for him. He conceded 22 feet as a way to facilitate going through with the fight.
Somehow that indicates a more confident posture to me. As I look at this, one of these guys can box extremely well but can't hurt his opponent. The other guy can hurt his opponent and can box more than well enough to get by.
Saunders has also been vocal about the judges, and doesn't think that's going to give him a real chance at winning a decision. Sure, maybe the commission in Texas is leaning a bit toward Canelo, so Saunders might be onto something, but that's the kind of thing that should direct you AWAY from Billy Joe.
You could indeed lay the -650 price on Canelo, but if you're looking for a better price, you may want to consider the specific outcomes. This is how they are listed at BetOnline:
Alvarez by Decision or Technical Decision +150
Alvarez by KO, TKO or DQ +100
Saunders by Decision or Technical Decision +675
Saunders by KO, TKO or DQ +1400
Draw or Technical Draw +1800
I can see this fight going the distance. More importantly, I think Saunders has it very much in mind to last the distance. And I don't think he has enough artillery to win.
Therefore, why not take a price instead of laying one? It's +150 for the decision, and that might make it worth our while.
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