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    Fight Week: Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders ready to rumble

    FIGHT WEEK

    canelo alvarez and billy joe saunders are set to unify three of the four major 168-pound titles saturday at the dallas cowboys’ home stadium.

    ***

    MAGOMED KURBANOV (21-0, 13 KOs)
    VS. LIAM SMITH (29-2-1, 16 KOs)

    • When: Friday, May 7
    • Where: Ekaterinburg, Russia
    • TV/Stream: ESPN+
    • Division: Junior middleweight
    • At stake: No titles
    • Pound-for-pound ranking: None
    • Odds: Even
    • Also on the card: Eduard Skavynskyi vs. TBA, welterweights; Evgenii Liashkov vs. Mukhammad Shekhov, junior featherweights
    • Prediction: Kurbanov UD
    • Background: Kurbanov faces his toughest test against the veteran Smith. The 25-year-old prospect from Russia is a capable boxer-puncher who has been fighting in scheduled 10-rounders most of his career. He last fought this past November, when he stopped journeyman Dmitry Mikhaylenko in two rounds. His unanimous-decision victory over Diego Chavez in November 2019 might’ve been the most significant of his career. Kurbanov will be fighting Smith in his hometown of Ekaterinburg. Smith, a former 154-pound titleholder, had fought at 160 in his past two fights but is moving back down to pursue another title shot. The 32-year-old Liverpudlian is 3-0 since he lost a wide decision to then-junior middleweight titleholder Jaime Munguia, including a one-sided decision over Roberto Garcia in December 2019. That was his most-recent fight, meaning he will have been out of the ring for 17 months.

    ***

    CANELO ALVAREZ (55-1-2, 37 KOs) VS.
    BILLY JOE SAUNDERS (30-0, 14 KOs)

    "/*]]>*/
    • When: Saturday, May 8
    • Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
    • TV/Stream: DAZN
    • Division: Super middleweight
    • At stake: Alvarez’s WBA and WBC, and Saunders WBO titles
    • Pound-for-pound ranking: Alvarez No. 2
    • Odds: Alvarez 6-1 favorite (BetMGM)
    • Also on the card: Elwin Soto vs. Katsunari Takayama, junior flyweights (for Soto’s WBO title); Kieron Conway vs. Souleymane Cissokho, junior middleweights; Frank Sanchez vs. Nagy Aguilera, heavyweights
    • Prediction: Alvarez KO 10
    • Background: Alvarez has said he wants to unify all four major 168-pound titles after winning two of them by easily outpointing Callum Smith this past December. A victory over the underdog Saunders would give him three pieces and set up a showdown for the undisputed championship against IBF titleholder Caleb Plant in September. The 30-year-old Mexican star last fought on Feb. 27, when he stopped overmatched mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in three rounds. Thus, he will have been out of the ring for only 2½ months. Alvarez is 13-0-1 since he lost a wide decision to Floyd Mayweather in 2013, a period in which he has climbed to top of some pound-for-pound lists. Alvarez is 6-0 against British fighters. Saunders, 31, is a polished boxer with limited power who has won major titles in two divisions. He won his super middleweight belt by easily outpointing Shefat Isufi in May 2019 and has successfully defended twice. He stopped Marcelo Coceres in 11 rounds to win what had been a close fight in November 2019 and nearly shut out veteran Martin Murray this past December. Saunders has some notable victories – Chris Eubank Jr., Andy Lee, Willie Monroe Jr., David Lemieux and Murray – but he has never tangled with anyone near Alvarez’s ability.

    ***

    Also fighting this weekend: Junior lightweight Gadwin Rosa (11-1, 9 KOs) of Puerto Rico faces fellow prospect George Acosta of the Los Angeles in a scheduled 10-round bout in Kissimmee, Fla. on Telemundo.

     

    This article was originally published on boxingjunkie.usatoday.com

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