23 June 2020

Eddie Hearn hopeful of restarting negotiations between Billy Joe Saunders and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez

WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders is still very much in contention to secure a fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez later this year, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

The 30 year-old Brit had agreed a deal with the Mexican to a clash in Las Vegas on May 2 before the coronavirus pandemic scuppered those plans.

Saunders holds a perfect professional record of 29 victories from 29 fights (PA)

And while the outbreak may well have cost Saunders the chance at pound-for-pound star Canelo, Hearn is still optimistic about the fight being re-scheduled for later in 2020.

Speaking to SI Boxing with Chris Mannix, he said: "I think the options are for him to come back and offer Billy Joe Saunders a new deal, and again, maybe Billy Joe Saunders won’t take anything less than what they agreed.

"They could try and find a cheaper opponent, but is that an opponent that will be approved by DAZN?

"A cheaper opponent generally means a fight that fans aren’t interested in. So we’ve got to get the balance right.

“People have all got to understand that we’ve got to dig in right now and do our bit. It doesn’t mean that you should fight for money that you don’t feel presents your value, but you have to understand that in this moment in time, things have changed and we all need to get back on our feet and move forward collectively as a team."

Saunders landed himself in hot water after the fight was cancelled when he posted a video on social media which appeared to give men advice on how to beat their partners during lockdown.

He was subsequently suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control, however that is not expected to affect a potential bout against Canelo.

Hearn believes the changing environment within the sport. as a result of the pandemic means there will be a discussion between Alvarez and his promoter’s Golden Boy as to what sort of opponent to select next.

And the Matchroom Boxing promoter feels Saunders is as good opponent as they are going to get given the absence of gate revenue if the event has to happen behind closed doors.

Canelo knocked out light-heavyweight Sergey Kovalev in his last fight back in November (Tass/PA Images)

"Everybody is being asked at the moment, ‘If you want to fight now, here is the new deal’," he added.

"If you want to wait until next year, of course, that’ll be honoured, but if you want to get out and progress your career, you have to understand, the game’s changed, and the landscape has changed.

"That question will probably be asked of Canelo Alvarez for Golden Boy to say, ‘There’s no gate, we were going to take 8 million dollars, and now we’re not'.

"So what’s going to happen to that $8 million? Do we try and find a cheaper opponent, do we try and find a smaller crowd and do you try and take less money, Canelo Alvarez? That’s going to be an interesting conversation."

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