THROUGH no fault of their own, the race between British world champions Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders to land a fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has been an exhausting one.

Both were inching towards it last year, and at the start of this year, with Saunders, the WBO super-middleweight champion, finally believing he landed a May 2 date only to see it scuppered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, with behind-closed-doors boxing providing much-needed momentum to a sport effectively dead for four months, there is renewed hope that Alvarez’s next fight might be against a British world champion. This means Saunders and Smith will both once again be edging towards the front of a long queue, eager for their raised hands to be seen, and it also means Eddie Hearn, the pair’s promoter, will again open negotiations with the Mexican superstar’s team.

At this point, with Smith staying quiet during the pandemic and Saunders making mistake after mistake, Hearn believes Canelo’s preference is the WBA super-middleweight champion from Liverpool.

Canelo Alvarez
Hogan Photos

“I think that Canelo likes the Callum Smith fight because he’s the ‘Super’ champion and he’s also The Ring magazine champion, he is on paper the number one super middleweight in the division,” Hearn told talkSPORT.

“I think September 12 looks unlikely and I think it has done for a while now, but all those guys – as you do when you fight Canelo, as you do when you fight Anthony Joshua – you wait for the golden ticket.

“It’s the shot of a lifetime against a true great and Callum Smith is right in the mix, as is John Ryder, as is Demetrious Andrade, as is Dmitry Bivol and a lot of our U.S. guys as well.

“I get the feeling that Canelo would like to fight Callum Smith and it would be an honour for him to share the ring with him.”

By the time either one of them gets the opportunity there’s every chance they will be torn between wanting to punch the Mexican in the face and wanting to bow down at his feet. It has, for both Smith and Saunders, been one hell of a wait.