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Carl Frampton

Billy Joe Saunders must show style and guile to shock Canelo Alvarez

Carl Frampton


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Billy Joe Saunders will face Canelo Alvarez on May 2 (Paul Harding/PA file photo)

Billy Joe Saunders will face Canelo Alvarez on May 2 (Paul Harding/PA file photo)

Billy Joe Saunders will face Canelo Alvarez on May 2 (Paul Harding/PA file photo)

Billy Joe Saunders has been handed the biggest opportunity of his life as he challenges Canelo Alvarez on May 2 - and don't write him off against the No.1 star in boxing.

Saunders will be seen as a big underdog going into their world super-middleweight title unification clash but if he is to pull off a shock then he has to look no further for inspiration than his big mate Tyson Fury.

Not only did Fury hammer Deontay Wilder into submission last month to land the WBC world heavyweight title but in 2018 he came back from being almost three years out of the ring and having two ordinary fights to shock the world with a staggering performance.

The judges had it a draw but everybody knew Fury had won and he did it not only with courage and skill but by getting underneath the skin of Wilder to produce one of the best wins ever by a British fighter on away soil.

Billy Joe can do the same against Canelo. He has that same confidence and brashness to go with the skills to give any super-middleweight in the world trouble - including Canelo.

While the Mexican will be the favourite, Billy Joe is not someone who will be in any way intimidated by the record and aura of Canelo, whose only defeat came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather. That is the style to beat Canelo, though it was seven years ago.

I'm fascinated to see how Billy Joe will go about trying to out-fox Canelo. I'm sure he will have a few tricks up his sleeve and a smart game plan. That's why it could be one of the fights of the year

Billy Joe has a similar style and he has already shown in previous fights that just like Fury he can wind people up and mock them in the middle of a fight. The moment he took to stare outside of the ring when outboxing dangerous puncher David Lemieux went viral and some have tried to copy it.

When you look at the world super-middleweight scene, fellow British fighter Callum Smith is the only other fighter who would offer a threat to Canelo. One big problem for Billy Joe is the fact that it is in Vegas.

The reality is - as we saw in Canelo's fights with Gennady Golovkin - any rounds that are close will go to Canelo. We may not like it but that's the way it goes because he is the superstar and judges for whatever reason tend to side with him.

Add that to the fact that Canelo is a phenomenal fighter and you realise just how big a challenge this is for Billy Joe. One thing he cannot be is predictable because Canelo has such a high ring IQ that he quickly works out patterns and takes advantage of them. When he puts his punches together, he has arguably the best punch selection in the world.

I'm fascinated to see how Billy Joe will go about trying to out-fox Canelo. I'm sure he will have a few tricks up his sleeve and a smart game plan. That's why it could be one of the fights of the year.

There's a reason that Billy Joe has been avoided by many fighters in the past and that's because he has a style that gives some fighters nightmares.

All credit to both men for making the fight happen and if Billy Joe can shock the world it would be really, really special.

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