As Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez looks to secure plans for a possible return to the ring in 2020, his opponent will most definitely not be Billy Joe Saunders. The WBO super middleweight titleholder told The Athletic on Wednesday following recent negotiations with Alvarez that he wouldn't be ready in time given the current global pandemic and was officially removing himself from consideration.
"I'm not ready [in] September," Saunders said. "You can say to me, 'Billy Joe, a billion pounds, but you're not ready and you're going to get beat.' I would say keep it.
"Let me get ready, let me win and I will fight for free. I'm nobody's stepping stone. I'm not another belt for Canelo. They want to try mind games ... that don't work with me, I play the biggest mind games in British boxing."
Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) was originally expected to face Alvarez in May until the coronavirus outbreak canceled plans. The 30-year-old native of England also complicated matters by getting his license suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control for a video he posted on social media mocking domestic violence.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) holds version of titles at 160 and 168 pounds while he vacated the 175-pound belt he won last fall by knocking out Sergey Kovalev. The 29-year-old, ranked among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, is hoping to return Sept. 12 in his usual showcase date on Mexican Independence Day weekend.
That fight will not come against his preferred opponent of Gennadiy Golovkin, however, as the 38-year-old stated he prefers a mandatory defense of his IBF middleweight title first before entertaining a trilogy fight with Alvarez.
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday he has a meeting scheduled with Alvarez about planning a return fight without fans in attendance. Gomez said Alvarez prefers to campaign at 168 pounds for his next fight and that it likely won't come against a current champion.
"I don't think we're going to be able to lure any of the champions and a Golovkin fight can't happen now because of this," Gomez said. "That's a fight we were hoping to do. I don't think we'll be able to get those super middleweight champions, but there are still some good guys out there I think we'll be able to get.
"We're going to show Canelo everything. He's concerned about how things go with all the guidelines, so we'll lay everything out for him and let him make his call."