Billy Joe Saunders’ trainer Mark Tibbs believes his fighter can overcome Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez if the WBO super-middleweight champion can stick to his gameplan in their huge unification clash on May 8.
Canelo has fought and beaten six British fighters in his stellar 58-fight career so far, most recently Callum Smith was put to the sword in Texas last December, but one fighter who many believe has the best chance of bucking that trend is slick southpaw Saunders.
Speaking on the Betfred Boxing Show, Tibbs says Saunders has all the assets to beat Canelo, “As soon as I got back involved with Billy Joe Saunders for the [Martin] Murray fight, I recognised immediately the maturity in his body and in his strength and also in his thinking.
“He’s always been strong-minded and he’s always been a phenomenal trainer but he needs to be reminded he’s a slick, free-thinking fighter and we couldn't take that away from him in any way. He knows he’s got the intelligence and knowhow, stylistically, to take on someone like Canelo Alvarez.”
Speaking about what Saunders’ game-plan might look like, without going into too much detail, Tibbs added, “We can box around, we can diffuse and take away power and exploit areas. There’s another way of fighting. Billy Joe can, and perhaps he will do, diffuse them missiles and exploit the openings, and set traps ourselves, make him fall short, encourage him to swing.
“It’s all about boxing, outfoxing, chipping and clipping. It’s about pulling off a perfect game plan and I believe Billy Joe Saunders will do that on May 8th.”
Saunders is back training with Tibbs having split with him and long-time trainer Jimmy Tibbs, Mark’s father, in 2016. Now back with Tibbs, Saunders is getting ready for Canelo in the much sunnier climate of the Canary Islands, somewhere Tibbs believes is ideal for keeping his charge fully-focused ahead of the biggest fight of his career.
“When Billy Joe Saunders won his middleweight world title in 2015, my father was Billy Joe’s main trainer and we decided as a team to take him to mainland Spain for warm weather training and mainly to hold a bit of focus.
"So it was eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep, train, sometimes rest and cover. When he was touching on big time boxing, it was very difficult at home because you get friends and family that want to see and be in touch with Billy Joe. So that cycle, that training, professional, elite training regime was broken quite often keeping him in England.
“When we took Billy Joe Saunders in 2015 to the MGM gym in Spain, now the MTK, I believe he’s not broke that cycle ever since. So, I think he’s adopted that and excelled in going abroad to warm weather training. It works for some, it don’t for work everybody but it’s working for Billy Joe Saunders right now.
“It’s always nice to wake up when the sun is shining in the winter months and preparing for a fight, so that’s why we’re here in the Canary Islands.”