Saunders’ camp threatens fight over ring dispute

  • ESPN Staff Writer
  • Previously a college football writer for The Dallas Morning News
  • University of North Texas graduate

ARLINGTON, Texas — Even the first official event for Saturday’s super middleweight unification fight between Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders wasn’t immune to controversy.

Saunders did not show for a press event and arrival photos on Tuesday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. His father, Tom, told ESPN that the British fighter is unwilling to budge on a 2-foot difference in ring size.

Alvarez, however, dismissed the claims from the opponent’s camp as something that could seriously jeopardize the fight.

“He has to fight Saturday,” Alvarez said through a translator. “The fight is going to happen. That’s not a problem.”

According to Tom Saunders, the two sides agreed to a 22-foot ring. However, the size of the ring was not officially included in the contract and the ring, which still has not been constructed, will be 20 feet.

Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), who owns one of the four major belts in the 168-pound division, walked through the hotel lobby with members of his camp Tuesday morning. However, he opted not to walk less than half a mile to AT&T Stadium for arrival photos and the first press availability of the week.

“We’ve given a lot away here,” Tom Saunders told ESPN. “We ain’t gonna give away no more. It’s a 22-foot ring or there’s no fight. Simple as that. We’re here to fight. We’re here to win.”

With the British fighter absent, Alvarez and his trainer, Eddy Reynoso, posed for photos inside the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) is considered one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters and holds two of the major belts

“We’ve faced everyone — lefties, righties, champions, ex-champions — in any size of ring,” Reynoso said through a translator during a brief news conference where he downplayed the issue. “To us, this doesn’t mean anything.”

Later in the afternoon, as Alvarez made his way through the hotel lobby, Saunders’ camp again chided Alvarez about the ring size. The Mexican champion walked by, turned around and in English replied, “You’re a f—ing p—y.”

Alvarez told reporters that he didn’t care about the ring size as he attempts to unify the belts.

“It’s not the only excuse he’s had,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “He’s had plenty of excuses. I’m just going to go in there and do what I have to do.”

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