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Canelo vs. Saunders: Will ring size be unfair advantage for Alvarez?

Joseph Herron Updated
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This Saturday night, May 8th, 2021, from the AT&T Satdium in Arlington, Texas, current WBC/WBA Super Middleweight champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will attempt to unify the talent enriched 168 pound division by competing against current WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders of the United Kingdom.
According to the father of Billy Joe Saunders, the big "Cinco de Mayo" event may be in jeopardy because of an "18 foot" disagreement.
The quandary stems from an allegedly contracted 24 foot ring size.  Apparently, the light blue canvas Matchroom Sport is planning to install within the cavernous "Home of the Dallas Cowboys" is a small, 18 foot squared circle.
"There are still a few issues that we have to sort out, which we're not happy about and just sort of popped up this morning," claims Tom Saunders.  "It's about the size of the ring.  Matchroom wants us to box in an 18 foot ring."
The smaller ring would appear to be a clear advantage for the Mexican favorite, because Billy Joe's success will undoubtedly be dependent on controlling range from a distance.  An 18 foot ring would seemingly make it substantially more difficult for the taller, rangier fighter to maintain a relatively safe distance for a full twelve rounds of action.
"They've come back with a 20 foot ring, but it was supposed to be for a 24 foot ring," stated Saunders.  "So we've compromised and stated it can be no smaller than a 22 foot ring."
The elder statesman of the Saunders clan insists that BJ's management team, MTK Global, will have it straightened out by the time both men enter the ring...at least he would hope.
"For Matchroom to want Billy Joe to box in an 18 foot ring...it's an amateur ring.  It seems to me that Eddie Hearn is trying to take Billy Joe's advantage away from him, and we haven't got many advantages here.  We're up against everything."
The ring size quandary isn't the only contention publicly announced by Team Saunders.
In an interview with iFL TV last week, the current WBO title holder expressed his discontent with promoter Eddie Hearn regarding a few "changes" to their pre-fight agreement.
“I did this deal on the basis of an English judge, American judge and Mexican judge," said BJ Saunders. "Then when Eddie came here the other day, he said there were no English officials allowed.  So you know I’ve still not got to the bottom of that yet.”
According to Hearn, three neutral judges will be scoring the anticipated unification contest instead.
At the time of publication, the identity of the three judges appointed to score the contest haven't been revealed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.
Will the ring controversy be settled just as amicably by both parties?
When fighting Canelo Alvarez in Texas, adjusting the ring conditions to favor the Mexican born fighter is nothing new.
In March of 2013, Canelo was slated to face 154 pound WBA champion Austin "No Doubt" Trout at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.  Although the ring size didn't come into question, an unusually thick and spongy canvas was used without Team Trout's acknowledgement and approval. 
According to Austin and longtime trainer Louie Burke, the thick, protective canvas made mobility around the ring limiting and extremely difficult, giving an "unfair" advantage to the less mobile Alvarez.
Five decade fight trainer James Gogue, who coached a fighter on the undercard of that event, recalls the situation vividly.
"I was training Guadalupe De Leon to fight Golden Boy prospect Miguel Flores in the prelims on that card," states the expert trainer.  "It was the first fight of the night.  As soon as I walked into the ring, I felt the difference.  It was super spongy and debilitating to any fighter dependent on movement around the ring."
"I knew it would prove to be a huge advantage for Canelo against a boxer/puncher like Austin Trout who's strategy was to control range and distance from the outside.  I know Austin's trainer Louie Burke brought it up to Golden Boy, but it was already too late. It was already being used. They went on with the fight and the rest is history."
"It wouldn't surprise me if Canelo's Team are asking for the same thickness and texture of canvas, as well as the smaller, 18 foot ring size. If I were Saunders and his team, I would inspect and straighten everything out before the fight or pull-out."
Will this issue be resolved before fight night to the satisfaction of both parties, or will the ring quandary fracture the highly anticipated Super Middleweight unification between Canelo and Saunders? 


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