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It wouldn’t be fair to say that Billy Joe Saunders is a great fighter, despite a 30-0 professional record, 14 knockouts and holding the WBO super middleweight title since 2015.
He’s had flashes of greatness, though, and when he’s on his game, as he was during a Dec. 16, 2017, victory in Laval, Quebec, over David Lemieux, he’s extremely difficult to beat.
He’s got an awkward, tricky style that fighters don’t see every day, so it can be hard to adapt to in a 12-round fight.
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If there is anyone who can adapt, it’s Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport who holds the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles. They’ll fight on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, DAZN) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in front of a crowd of around 75,000 fans in a super middleweight unification bout.
At BetMGM, Alvarez is a whopping -750 favorite to add a third belt to his collection. Saunders is +500.
Saunders is far too good of an opponent to be +500, but when you face a legendary fighter like Alvarez, that’s where the odds fall. Alvarez opened at -600 and has been bet up.
It might be worth a flier on Saunders at +500, but I see two other opportunities that might be better given the price. I think Saunders will have his moments in the bout, but as Alvarez has matured, he’s learned to handle every style. Nothing Saunders will do will surprise him.
Alvarez by decision is +160 and Alvarez by KO/TKO/DQ is -110. Given I think Alvarez will find a way to win this fight, the question is whether it’s by decision or knockout.
He’s gone to decision against his last three elite opponents in their primes: Callum Smith on Dec. 19, Daniel Jacobs on May 4, 2019, and Gennadiy Golovkin on Sept. 15, 2019.
He’s finished guys who were no-hopers like Avni Yildirim last time out on Feb. 27, Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15, 2018, and a past-his-prime veteran in Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 2, 2019.
Saunders appears in excellent shape and is highly motivated for the fight. He’ll have the added benefit of having been in Las Vegas around heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and working with him a bit.
To me, the decision is the smart play here. Saunders is a veteran in his prime and this is the biggest fight of his career by far. He’s never fought anyone remotely in Alvarez’s league.
Saunders, though, is a good tactical boxer and very ring-wise. He’ll make the adjustments he needs to in order to weather any storms. Given the angles he creates, he won’t be as easy to attack to the body as Yildirim and Smith proved to be.
I’m going to lay two units on Alvarez to win by decision at +160, so I’ll risk $200 with the hope of making a $320 profit.
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