Billy Joe Saunders called out Saul “Canelo” Alvarez after retaining his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title with an 11th-round stoppage of previously undefeated Marcelo Coceres at the Staples Center.
Saunders is now undefeated in 29 contests but the British fighter said he was dissatisfied with his performance on his United States debut in Los Angeles.
He looked sluggish in the middle rounds of the contest before suddenly finding the power shots to drop the Argentine three times.
Early in the bout, Saunders had the clear advantage in speed, but his timing was off in several rounds before he dropped Coceres with a big, right hook. An upper cut sent Coceres down for a second time, with the final knock-down forcing the stoppage.
Saunders admitted the triumph was not the perfect statement to force the hands of Alvarez or Daniel Jacobs, who was ringside. Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed a shortlist which also includes world champion Demetrius Andrade, Gennady Golovkin, or world No 1 and fellow British super-middleweight, Callum Smith.
“There’s no excuse, I knew from round nine I had to get this man out of there,” said Saunders. “I wanted to impress the American crowd and I hope they enjoyed the knockout. That’s all I could give [the crowd] tonight.”
“The performance was not worthy of a Canelo or Jacobs fight, but I came here five days before. My timing was off, my movement was off, everything was off. This wasn’t the best of me. I’ve been in big fights, I needed to stay cool. Being champion you need to know when to step on the gas, and you need to step on the gas at some point. It’s the difference between winning and losing.”
Addressing Alvarez afterwards, he said: “Canelo, if you want to become a real four-weight champion, take me now because this is the time to make it happen.”
Also on the card, there was a split points victory for Briton KSI over American Logan Paul in the headlining battle of the two YouTube stars.
Elsewhere, Hearn revealed that with Scott Quigg having suffered an elbow injury and been removed from the Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua heavyweight world title rematch, Dillian Whyte could “possibly” find a place on the Saudi Arabia card.
Heavyweight Whyte would be making a return after failing a UK Anti-Doping drug test in July.