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Canelo vs. Saunders: Why ring size is huge factor in style match-up

Joseph Herron Updated
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WBC/WBA Super Middleweight champion and boxing superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will take on current WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders this Saturday, May 8, at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
According to Tom Saunders, father of the WBO champ, the big Cinco de Mayo throwdown may not happen because of a dispute, concerning the proposed 18 foot ring Matchroom Sport plans to use this weekend.
Team Saunders would prefer their man compete in a giant 24 foot ring, giving the fleet-footed southpaw more room to work, and more specifically an advantage in controlling range from a relatively safe distance.
Unfortunately for the UK based fighter, it was recently discovered by FightSaga.com that there is no requested ring size cited in the official fight contract signed by both competing champions.  
Without a pre-fight stipulation in the binding contract, Saunders cannot legally enforce their preferred 24 foot ring to be used in this Saturday night's main event. 
Mr. Saunders claims he and his son are prepared to walk away from this weekend's festivities if their demands aren't met.
"The issue in the ring still hasn't been sorted," Tom Saunders admitted to iFL TV.  "Because there's nothing in the contract about ring size.  It's all negotiations, and the negotiations have broken down big time."
"Canelo has put in an 18 foot ring, which I think is an amateur ring, as the fight ring.  Of course we wanted a 24 foot ring, and are willing to concede to a 22 foot ring, but that's as far as we'll go."
"Canelo is trying to take his legs away, and we're up against everything here. At the end of the day, I'm not going to let my son box in a 20 foot ring against the pound for pound king of boxing."    
According the main attraction, the visiting fighter must compete and honor his contractual obligation.
"He has to fight," insists Canelo Alvarez.  "He has to fight Saturday.  The fight is going to happen.  That's not a problem."    
Canelo's trainer, Eddy Reynoso, claims that the ring size isn't a legitmate issue and merely a bit of pre-fight gamesmanship from Team Saunders.
"We've faced everyone...lefties, righties, champions, ex-champions in every size ring, so to us, this doesn't mean anything,"  Reynoso stated to Behind the Gloves on Tuesday.  
To support Eddy's theory, the current WBO title holder failed to participate in their first head to head, promotional photo session at the AT&T Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.  
Both Canelo and Reynoso insist they aren't affected by these "unprofessional" tactics. 
"This isn't the only excuse he's had.  He's come up with plenty of excuses.  But nothing frustrates me.  I'm just focused on winning this Saturday, and I'm calm."
Alvarez predicts the ring size will be a moot issue this Saturday night.
"The truth is, I don't care about the size of the ring," Canelo said to Behind the Gloves.  "I'm just going to go in there an do my job."
Historically, ring size has proven to make a considerable difference whenever a fleet-footed boxer has faced an aggressive minded puncher.
On June 16, 2012, former WBO MIddleweight title holder Andy Lee challenged the aggressive minded Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, and a very small 16 foot ring was used to stage Junior's 3rd WBC Middleweight title defense.
To the dismay of Lee's trainer, the late, great Emanuel Steward, there was no contracted stipulation for a larger ring size, so Lee was forced to compete in the Chavez preferred 16 foot ring.  The smaller ring favored the aggressive minded champ, and the result was a resounding 7th round KO for the popular Mexican fighter.  
In the first half of the scheduled 12 round affair, Lee used his jab and nimble footwork to keep Chavez at a relatively safe distance.  But by the sixth round, Lee began to slow, and Junior eventually found range, landing heavy shots to the body and head.  Midway through the seventh and final round, Chavez landed a hard right hand that floored and eventually stopped the former WBO champ.
After the bout, Steward admitted the small, 16 foot ring was the biggest difference in the fight, stating that a larger 22 foot ring would have resulted in a much different outcome, favoring his fighter. 
In an alternative example, Sugar Ray Leonard understood the ring size would be a huge factor when negotiating terms for his super fight with ATG Middleweight champion Marvin Hagler back in 1987, and allowed the Marvelous One to take home the lion's share of the purse in exchange for a big 22 foot ring in a sanctioned 12 round fight.
The contracted larger ring size paid dividends for Leonard, as the boxer/puncher was able to go the distance against the more aggressive minded puncher, earning a split decision victory.
So when analyzing Canelo vs. Saunders, a 22 foot ring could ultimately determine whether or not Billy Joe makes it to the final bell against the harder punching, aggressive minded favorite.  
But without a pre-fight stipulation in the official contract, Saunders will more than likely have to succumb to the bigger attraction and the event's co-promoter, Saul Alvarez, and compete in the smaller 18 foot ring.
Will the ring size prove to be a determining factor this Saturday night?  Most experts seem to think so.
Heading into the contest, Canelo is currently listed a healthy 7 to 1 (-700) betting favorite on most Race and Sports Books.  Hopefull fans will get to find out on May 8th, and Saunders agrees to fight in the proposed 18 foot ring.


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