Ahead of Saturday’s Super Middleweight title fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) and Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), promoter Eddie Hearn, who promotes both fighters, has made it clear that he disagrees with some recent comments made by England’s Saunders.
The 31-year-old Saunders, who currently holds the WBO 168-pound title, has voiced his displeasure with Hearn throughout the promotion of the fight, as he feels as if Hearn has been siding with Canelo, the reigning WBA (Super), WBC, and Ring Magazine titleholder. Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Saunders’ father, Tom, have supported Saunders’ claims as well.
Hearn, however, disagrees with the idea, saying that although he and Saunders don’t have the closest relationship, he did his job by landing the southpaw the biggest fight of his career.
“I have a decent relationship with Billy Joe Saunders,” Hearn told IFL TV (via Boxing Scene) during an interview that was posted recently to its YouTube channel. “I can’t tell you that we’re close. But I had a job to do for Billy Joe Saunders, which was deliver him the opportunities and the fights that no one else could or has delivered for him in his career. We all know that last year I got to deliver him the Canelo Alvarez fight, in 2020. We were one day away from announcing the fight [for last May 2 in Las Vegas]. Everything was signed and agreed, and COVID hit. And it was a real kick in the nuts.
“And we had to put up with people saying, ‘When you gonna get Billy Joe Saunders a big fight? When you gonna …?’ And it’s like, ‘We had it.’ He went off, and he boxed Martin Murray [on December 4]. And now I delivered him the Canelo Alvarez fight. I can’t really do any more than that, so if he don’t like me or they don’t like me, then there’s not really a lot I can do.”
Saunders, who’s undefeated with 14 knockouts throughout his professional career and is coming off a December 2020 victory over Martin Murray, signed with Hearn’s Matchroom Sports in 2019. Canelo’s last three fights, meanwhile, were promoted by Hearn after the Mexican split with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
In addition to Saunders feeling like Hearn has favored Canelo, he and his team also had an issue with how the judges were selected. His father wasn’t thrilled that Hearn recently attended a workout at Canelo’s San Diego gym either.
Regardless of Team Saunders’ complaints, Hearn believes he’s done well for the fighter in terms of promoting his career, and he’d ultimately be “delighted” if he can upset Canelo this weekend.
“It’s a horrible problem that you have when you promote both fighters in a fight,” Hearn said. “I’ve told you before, I hate it because someone always feels, ‘Oh, you’re siding with him.’ Not at all. I’ve delivered you the opportunity that you asked me to deliver, and the rest is up to you. I can’t do any more. You know, if you don’t want me around, you don’t wanna speak to me, that’s disappointing. But, you know, if he goes and wins, I’ll be delighted for him. And, you know, I feel like I’ve done a good job for Billy Joe Saunders. You know, there really was a time where I had to back him through a little bit of a sticky period, to be honest with you. And I actively backed him in interviews and across social media when a lot of people probably told me I shouldn’t. But that’s irrelevant. I like Billy Joe Saunders.”
Canelo and Saunders will meet Saturday to unify Super Middleweight titles live on DAZN from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.