Updated Canelo Alvarez vs. Billy Joe Saunders Betting Odds, Prediction, Pick & Preview: Finding a Plus-Money Canelo Prop (May 8)
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images. Pictured: Saul Canelo Alvarez.
- Canelo Alvarez is a big favorite over unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders in a Super Middleweight unification bout on Saturday (after 11 p.m. ET, DAZN).
- Raheem Palmer expects the fight to go the distance, and is betting two props as a result, one at +160.
- Get his full betting preview and Alvarez vs. Saunders picks below.
Canelo vs. Saunders Odds
The weekend surrounding Cinco de Mayo is synonymous with boxing. It has long been the annual showcase for the sport’s biggest attraction and has thus become the pseudo Super Bowl of the boxing world.
This weekend has been headlined by the best in the sport — Julio Cesar Chavez, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather — who ultimately solidified Cinco de Mayo as the signature weekend it is today.
Although many of the recent fights on this weekend featured no Mexican fighters, Cinco de Mayo now belongs to Mexico’s own Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (58-1-2, 37 KO), the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport who makes his return to the ring in a Super Middleweight unification bout against WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders (30-0-0, 14 KO).
After the three round destruction of Avni Yıldırım in his WBC mandatory title defense in February, Saunders is the next hurdle Alvarez has to clear to become an undisputed champion at 168 pounds.
Alvarez has essentially been on a European tour, making easy work of the six British fighters he’s has faced during his career (Matthew Hatton, Ryan Rhodes, Amir Khan, Liam Smith, Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith), so conventional wisdom says this fight should be no different.
Saunders, however, is no slouch. He held the WBO Middleweight title from 2015 to 2018 before moving up and defeating Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO Super Middleweight title in 2019.
He’s since made two successful title defenses, knocking out Marcelo Esteban Coceres in 11 rounds in November 2019 and winning an unanimous decision over Martin Murray in December 2020.
Despite Saunders’ undefeated record and pedigree, oddsmakers are giving him little chance to upset Alvarez (-650 favorite) with the Brit listed as a +450 underdog. Can Alvarez continue his dominance as the pound-for-pound best boxer alive or will Saunders shock the world and pull the upset?
Let’s analyze the fight and find out!
Alvarez is on the path to becoming perhaps the best Mexican fighter ever. He’s currently the unified Super Middleweight Champion who has won world championships in four weight classes from light middleweight to light heavyweight.
With wins over Gennadiy Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, Austin Trout, Callum Smith, Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto, his resume speaks for itself; we’re looking at a future Hall of Fame fighter.
Although he’s won close decisions against Golovkin and Lara, he’s hasn’t backed down from a challenge and has proved to be superior to nearly every fighter he’s faced, with the exception of Floyd Mayweather Jr. who has never lost a pro fight.
Since the loss to Mayweather in 2012, Alvarez has drastically improved his adaptability, defensive skillset and upper body movement making him much more elusive.
Only Golovkin has landed more than 30% of his punches since that loss, so he’s not very easy to hit these days and will counter your punches and fire back.
With his counter punching ability, speed, explosive combinations, a vicious body attack, ability to pressure fighters and walk forward while still being defensively responsible (along with being one of the hardest punchers in the sport), Alvarez has proven to be a complete fighter in his prime.
When you factor in that he also has an elite chin and has never been knocked down in his career, even surviving two fights against the heavy handed Golovkin, it’s almost impossible to pick against him.
Picking against Alvarez means you’re essentially picking him to lose by decision and given his status as the “A-side” and the current face of the sport, I can only wish you good luck if that’s where you’re headed.
Many people would argue that if you had to pick a fighter to beat him under those circumstances it probably should be a southpaw given his struggles with Lara and Trout. Saunders is a crafty and technically sound southpaw with a jab that he uses to control fights as it accounts for the majority of his thrown and landed punches.
There are people who believe that Saunders will be the toughest fighter Alvarez has faced since the Golovkin fight. Lara was able to slow down Alvarez with his jab and in theory Saunders can do the same considering his height and reach advantage in his fight.
But Alvarez is a different fighter since the Lara fight, and Saunders lacks the offensive output to pressure his opponent. Saunders generally doesn’t throw a ton of punches and while he increased his output against the straight up and down Martin Murray, I don’t see that happening against Alvarez given his counter punching ability.
Even more troubling is that Saunders isn’t a guy who’s knocking guys out regularly these days. Despite having 14 knockouts in his 30 fights, he has just four stoppages in his last 15 fights. If Saunders can’t keep Alvarez honest with his power, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get walked down.
Where Saunders thrives is defensively as he’s at the top of list in opponent connect percentages. Saunders is a pure boxer and uses movement to his advantage and interestingly enough, there was controversy regarding the ring size for this fight.
Saunders talked trash to Alvarez throughout the whole week of the fight and he complained that the 18×18 ring size was too small while threatening to pull out of the fight before they settled on using a 22×22 ring size. With all the things Saunders did to troll Alvarez during the build up to this fight, you have to wonder if Alvarez will be pressing for a knockout more than usual.
Despite the controversy, Saunders has actually never boxed in a ring this big as a 20 foot ring is the maximum ring size in the UK. Nevertheless, this is an advantage for Saunders and I believe this could have an impact on the fight as he’ll have more space to move.
Saunders hasn’t fought anyone as good as Alvarez and his best performance, a 12 round decision against David Lemieux in a WBO middleweight title fight was over three years ago.
Canelo vs. Saunders Pick
Alvarez is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the sport but he has had trouble with slick fighters with movement. This feels like a fight in which Saunders can compete in the early moments of the fight, taking the first few rounds, catching Alvarez off guard with his movement while he still adjusts to his style.
I eventually expect Alvarez to take control of the fight but I’m not seeing a knockout here as Saunders could eventually get on his bike.
Alvarez wasn’t able to stop champion-level southpaws Trout and Lara, nor could he knock out Smith, Jacobs, Golovkin, Cotto, or Chavez Jr. As big of a puncher Alvarez is, he hasn’t put away his best opponents.
Although Canelo is a step above Saunders, we can’t forget that Saunders has yet to lose to a fight and he’s a pure boxer who can move. With Saunders not having the biggest punch output, I’m not seeing Alvarez having as many opportunities to stop him.
I think oddsmakers have the over 10.5 rounds juiced at -162 for a reason and I’m taking that prop at Bet Rivers. I also like Alvarez to win this fight, but I think this one goes to the scorecards, so I’ll bet that prop at BetMGM, which has it listed at +160.
The Pick: Over 10.5 (-162) | Alvarez on Points (+160)