Billy Joe Saunders has confirmed for the first time his fight with Canelo Alvarez is on. The only problem stopping the contest is the coronavirus outbreak.
The Englishman has been the subject of rumors for weeks after World Boxing News became the first outlet to confirm Saunders as the frontrunner in late January.
Canelo had green-lighted the two-weight world champion to promoters Golden Boy and TV network DAZN at that time.
Offers were made to both Saunders and rival Callum Smith, although the latter reportedly wanted more money and eventually lost out.
Scheduled to take place on May 2nd, Saunders has now admitted the Cinco de Mayo weekend event could be pushed back due to COVID-19 fears.
“The show must go on at some point. If it’s May, or whenever God gives us the go-ahead. I’m ready. Stay blessed,” said Saunders as he trained at Top Rank facilities on lockdown.
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) March 17, 2020
An official announcement on the 168-pound super-fight was due weeks ago, although the hit of this new infection has slowed everything to a standstill.
Las Vegas, California, New York and other cities are all shutting down, leaving weeks of uncertainty across the boxing board.
Top Rank, where Saunders is currently located staying as busy as possible until Canelo confirmation, joined the rest of the major promoters in dropping all bouts until May.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Top Rank has postponed all events scheduled for March and April,” they said. ”
We are monitoring the situation closely and will reschedule the shows as soon as it’s safe and reasonable to do so.
“The health and safety of our fighters, staff and ESPN’s incredible production team is the most important thing as we plan our next steps,” added Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
“We look forward to the day when we can bring our loyal fans world-class boxing once again, but exercising caution is the most prudent thing to do at this moment.”
This means Canelo vs Saunders could sneak in for the first week of May. But as things currently stand, an extension to the measures in place cannot be ruled out.
Scientists are predicting a peak of June for the virus, which effectively means later dates will surely have to be considered.