Demetrius Andrade doesn’t have nearly as much confidence in Billy Joe Saunders defeating Canelo Alvarez as he possesses in his own ability to dethrone the Mexican icon.
Andrade doesn’t even expect Saunders to truly test Alvarez when they meet May 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The unbeaten WBO middleweight champion has never been overly impressed by Saunders’ skills. But it was Saunders’ performance in his last fight – a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of countryman Martin Murray on December 4 in London – that convinced Andrade that the polarizing southpaw isn’t capable of upsetting Alvarez.
“May the best man win,” Andrade told BoxingScene.com. “Canelo showed that he was maybe able to carry a little power [up to the 168-pound division]. He’s trying to be a little more agile and mobile, or whatever. Just going off the last fight, Saunders looked like sh-t when he fought Martin Murray. He couldn’t do anything. He really didn’t dominate him in the way that he should’ve, the way somebody supposedly that good, that talented, should’ve done against Martin Murray, who’s been out the ring for however many years. If he brings that same type of fight to Canelo, I think Canelo’s gonna beat him.”
Saunders defeated the 39-year-old Murray by huge margins on all three scorecards (120-109, 120-109 and 118-110). Andrade doesn’t think Saunders will have anywhere near that type of success against Alvarez, yet he anticipates the undefeated Saunders taking Alvarez the distance.
“I don’t think Billy Joe is a walkover,” said Andrade, whose October 2018 fight against Saunders was canceled because Saunders tested positive for a banned substance. “I don’t think if he just gets hit, he’s gonna quit. But I don’t think Canelo’s knocking him out. Nobody’s been knocking nobody out, really. I mean, he knocked out this guy [Avni Yildirim] who wasn’t supposed to be in the ring with him. But when he’s in there with somebody that knows what they’re doing, he’s not knocking them out.”
Callum Smith (27-1, 19 KOs), another then-unbeaten Brit that Alvarez faced in a super middleweight title unification fight, went all 12 rounds with the four-division champion December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio. Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) stopped Turkey’s Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) after three one-sided rounds February 27 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Alvarez, 30, and Saunders, 31, will fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC championships and Saunders’ WBO belt in a 12-round fight DAZN will stream worldwide.
Handicappers have installed Alvarez as a 6-1 favorite versus Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), a former WBO middleweight champion who has been criticized at times for fighting down to the level of inferior opponents.
Saunders’ most memorable performance occurred three years ago, when he traveled to David Lemieux’s proverbial backyard and completely out-classed the Quebec-based knockout artist. A sharp, smart Saunders essentially toyed with Lemieux, whom he beat by wide distances on all three scorecards – 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111 – in December 2017 at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
As impressive as Saunders looked that night, Andrade thinks Alvarez is so far superior to Lemieux that Saunders won’t be able to raise his game enough to thrive at that elite level.
“I don’t know because he fought David Lemieux, who’s like 4-5,” Andrade joked in reference to the 5-feet-7 Lemieux’s height. “You know what I’m saying? That really don’t have any skills. That’s just like lunging in with punches and he sits stationary to try to throw one big shot. When you’ve got somebody who knows how to box and move, and can make fun of somebody like that and frustrate him just off his natural ability, I can’t make that comparison.
“Because Canelo is fundamentally sound. He has more foundation under him [than Lemieux] and he’s gotten a little better in some areas, but nothing crazy to me, from my standpoint, where there’s a big difference. He’s just fighting the right opponents and he’s fighting them at the right time, as I like to say. Like [Sergey] Kovalev, fighting him when he’s 40 years old or done. [Miguel] Cotto. [Shane] Mosley. You know what I’m saying? Putting weight restrictions on Danny Jacobs [after their weigh-in] and all this other stuff. So, they know what they’re doing at the end of the day.”
Russia’s Kovalev was 36 when Alvarez moved up to the light heavyweight division and knocked him out in the 11th round of their fight for Kovalev’s WBO 175-pound crown in November 2019 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Nevertheless, Andrade believes it’ll take a younger, fresher, skillful fighter such as him to beat an improved Alvarez. The southpaw has called out Alvarez ever since DAZN started streaming their fights in 2018, though that lucrative bout seems further away from happening than ever now that Alvarez is at super middleweight.
Andrade also wouldn’t mind rescheduling his fight with Saunders, especially if Saunders were to move back down to the middleweight division.
In the short term, Andrade is focused on his mandated title defense against Liam Williams. The 33-year-old Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, and Wales’ Williams (23-2-1, 18 KOs) are set to fight for Andrade’s WBO 160-pound championship April 17 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida (DAZN).
Three weeks later, Andrade will keep a close eye on the Alvarez-Saunders showdown.
“I just don’t think Billy Joe has the steam to really keep Canelo off him,” Andrade said. “And Canelo has gotten a little better, where he can sort of cut the ring off against someone like Billy Joe. Because even in that Martin Murray fight, in the later rounds he was just sluggish. He just never was like that good to me. He was good. He was like somebody that has rhythm. But you’re talking to James Brown over here. You know what I’m saying? It’s a big difference. You know what I’m saying?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.