Last Saturday saw Brit, Billy Joe Saunders bravely hold his own against the pound-for-pound Super-Middleweight champ, Canelo Alvarez, now 56/1/2 (38 KOs).
The previously unbeaten Saunders was putting his WBO belt on the line in a huge unification fight in front of the over 73,000 at the AT&T Arena in Dallas, which set the mark for largest US indoor boxing event in history.
Although losing on all three judges’ scorecards, Billy Joe was starting to get into some sort of rhythm by the sixth and seventh rounds. His jab kept on flicking away, and he was able to keep off of the ropes, but the power punches were undoubtedly coming from Canelo.
Round eight saw Canelo dodge a right hand from Billy Joe and land a devastating right of his own with the damage instantly visible. With his man in obvious trouble, Canelo stepped up the pressure and Billy Joe was glad to hear the bell. The footage during the break saw Billy Joe with serious damage to his right eye, and it was later confirmed he was unable to see at that point. With the momentum all with Canelo and not being able to see from his lead eye, his experienced corner man and trainer, Mark Tibbs, signalled to the referee that the fight was over.
Social media though is an unforgiving place and although promoter Eddie Hearn said after the fight that Saunders was set to have surgery on multiple fractures to his orbital bone (eye socket), a complete blowout, known as a quadripod fracture, he was still accused of quitting on his stool.
It’s a brutal injury and anyone involved in boxing will know the trainer Tibbs did the right thing in pulling his man out at that stage. It’s quite often said that the armchair fans, who now have a public voice due to social media, should not comment on things they don’t know about, yet current and former pro’s were also having there say. Former WBA middleweight champion Fernando Vargas took to Instagram to accuse Saunders of quitting and for pulling out of the fight over ‘a little scratch’ to his eye. Not surprisingly former opponent Chris Eubank Jnr, who personally put a £10,000 bet on Billy Joe to lose was also quick to offer his services to Canelo on Instagram.
It probably doesn’t help that last year BJS taunted Daniel Dubois, a UK heavyweight prospect with similar injuries, who took a knee to concede defeat, about quitting and he’d never do that himself.
Although this was a brutal end for Saunders, social media is also brutal place and he will no doubt be feeling the pain mentally as well as physically. A long recovery will be needed for this type of injury, but Billy Joe is world class and there are some big fights on the horizon if he decides he wants to continue.
But after earning many millions in the biggest career payday to date, there is no rush.