ARLINGTON, Texas – Demetrius Andrade expected more from Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday night.
Andrade anticipated seeing the sharpest Saunders imaginable in the ring against Canelo Alvarez. Instead, Andrade watched what he considered an ordinary Saunders attempt to fend off the hard-hitting opponent commonly considered the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
The previously unbeaten British southpaw had his moments versus Alvarez, but the Mexican legend was ahead 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75 when fractures around Saunders’ right eye prevented him from leaving his corner for the ninth round at AT&T Stadium.
Andrade, who was supposed to challenge Saunders 2½ years ago for the WBO middleweight title, was especially surprised by Saunders’ defensive deficiencies. According to Andrade, repeatedly making the same defensive mistake cost Saunders dearly when Alvarez landed the right uppercut that did the most damage to Saunders’ right eye in the eighth round.
“I thought Billy Joe didn’t have a real game plan,” Andrade told BoxingScene.com. “He just came out, did his thing, and didn’t make any adjustments once he seen the things he was doing wasn’t working. He kept bending down low. Canelo kept throwing the same shot over and over, and he kept falling into it. Eventually, he got caught with it. Fighting Canelo, you know, you have to be more technically sound and, you know, work on your defense. He had no defense. He was pretty much hands down, wide open, trying to throw combinations.
“When he was pulling out, he was pulling out with his hands down. He just didn’t have any good defense and didn’t know how to adjust when he was inside the ring with Canelo. And Canelo did a good job because Canelo’s hands was up, he’s countering and he already know what shots to look for. He was throwing the same shots all night, and Billy Joe kept doing the same thing to keep himself in danger.”
Andrade traveled to the Dallas area to support Saunders in the biggest fight of the former two-division champion’s career. The Providence, Rhode Island, native even arrived at their weigh-in Friday wearing Saunders’ team gear, a surprising show of respect for his rival.
The 33-year-old Andrade got into an argument with Alvarez at the post-fight press conference, which led to security escorting Andrade and his father/trainer, Paul, out of the room. Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs) wants his own opportunity to upset Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs), but he realizes he’d have to perform much better than Saunders (31-1, 14 KOs) to pull it off.
“I already knew Billy Joe isn’t the strongest middleweight out there,” Andrade said. “He’s not as strong as Canelo and he doesn’t have that will, I don’t think. I would’ve thought he would’ve trained extremely hard to put on a fight. And it just seems like he didn’t really fight the fight he needed to put on. He fought the way how Billy Joe usually fights. He didn’t do anything different to try to step up the level. Not that he’s not good. He just didn’t step up the level. He couldn’t take it to the next level.
“I don’t know what his training was like. I don’t know what their game plan was. But to sit there and try to throw soft jabs at Canelo, and then sit there and think you can put your hands down with Canelo, that’s not gonna work. And then you’re ducking like an amateur. He was ducking down low, like an amateur. And those uppercuts were all Canelo was throwing all night. So, why do you keep bending that way? It was just there for the taking whenever the opportunity came. So, Canelo caught him on his way out, maybe, when he was coming out from the duck, and he got caught clean.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.