Billy Joe Saunders becomes the latest man to challenge Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's supremacy this weekend, when he puts his WBO super-middleweight crown on the line against the unified WBC and WBA king.

In attempting to become the second man after all-time great Floyd Mayweather Jr to defeat Canelo in what will be his 59th professional contest, Saunders – who boasts an unblemished 30-0 record – must overturn a tale of woe suffered by his compatriots under the Mexican's eloquent fists.

Canelo will face a British boxer for the seventh time at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, and the six previous bouts have carried a certain weight of inevitability.

Saunders' slick skills might pose more substantial questions of boxing's pound-for-pound king but, as this trip down memory lane demonstrates, the odds are stacked against him.

Matthew Hatton - March 2011 (won by unanimous decision)

Canelo, already with 36 fights to his name (35-0-1), earned his breakthrough world title shot aged just 20 and took on Ricky Hatton's brother in California for the vacant WBC light-middleweight belt. It was also Hatton's first - and last - championship chance, though, and he was outclassed.

The beaten opponent reflected on "a long night" earlier this year as he told Sky Sports: "I left the ring that night believing that I'd been in with someone special who would go on to have a brilliant career." He was not wrong.

Ryan Rhodes - June 2011 (won by technical knockout)

Just three months on from the Hatton fight, in his very next bout, Alvarez defended his title back in Mexico against Rhodes, another Brit. It was an impressive display from the champion as he stayed patient after the Sheffield southpaw recovered from a knockdown in the fourth, decisively ending the contest against a staggering opponent in the final round.

Rhodes said he was "beaten up by a superstar of boxing", although he acknowledged he "probably underestimated him, underestimated his power". It was a mistake no man can afford to make against Canelo, who declared himself "ready for anybody".

Amir Khan - May 2016 (won by knockout)

Alvarez backed up that big talk in the aftermath of the Rhodes win but had tasted his sole career defeat - against Floyd Mayweather in September 2013 - by the time he next faced a Brit. Khan moved up two weight divisions to challenge for the WBC middleweight strap, yet it proved several steps too far.

A brutal right hand separated Khan from his senses towards the end of round six, before Canelo called out Gennadiy Golovkin, setting in motion their epic rivalry. Khan told Sky Sports his opponent was "a beast" and would now back him to beat Mayweather in a rematch.

Liam Smith - September 2016 (won by knockout)

The Mexican did not immediately move on to GGG and instead next tackled Smith, returning to light-middleweight to take the WBO crown. It was another devastating, dominant showing against a champion Alvarez had described as having "real knockout power".

Smith went to the canvas in the seventh, eighth and, finally, ninth rounds.

"There are world champions, then there are elite fighters," Smith told Sky Sports, feeling his opponent had fallen firmly into the latter camp.

Rocky Fielding - December 2018 (won by technical knockout)

Smith's assessment was echoed by the fifth Brit to come up short against Canelo. "I tried my best but that's what elite fighters are like," Fielding told Sky Sports, saying he "dared to be great" by taking the fight. By that point, Alvarez had twice faced Golovkin, winning a rematch after a controversial initial draw.

There was nothing contentious about the defeat of Fielding, who was knocked down four times inside three rounds before the Madison Square Garden bout was halted. "The better man won," said Fielding.

That emphatic triumph made Canelo a three-weight world champion and he would truly establish his authority at super-middleweight when he took on an old Fielding foe and the younger sibling of one of his previous victims.


Callum Smith – December 2020 (won by unanimous decision)

Possessing similar physical advantages to Fielding – who he knocked out inside a round in 2015 – but with far superior pedigree, Smith represented a very credible threat to Canelo as a hard-punching and rangy 168lbs champion.

But one-way traffic soon ensued in San Antonio, with Smith repeatedly run over by the Mexican juggernaut. Canelo pushed the bigger man back throughout, utilising supreme foot and head movement, as he meted out a sustained beating.

"No excuses, he was very good," the younger Smith brother told DAZN after a first career loss. "He is smart and he is clever. He closes ground, sets traps and, before you know it, he's closed the ground up."