Billy Joe Saunders' trainer Mark Tibbs has made it clear that the British super-middleweight, who lost his WBO world title to WBA, WBC and The Ring champ Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez on Saturday live on DAZN, did not quit on his stool after the eighth round.
Saunders put forth a respectable showing against Alvarez and was either slightly behind or even on points in the eyes of many spectactors, though the ringside judges were leaning harder in the Mexican's favour prior to the finish. A wicked uppercut with pinpoint accuracy met Saunders' attempt to evade perfectly, and the vicious blow fractured his eye socket.
Though Saunders had done well to avoid serious trouble up until that incredible shot, everyone from Canelo's team to fight promoter Eddie Hearn and many boxing legends and insiders have all since agreed that if he came back out for round nine with such an injury and the use of only one eye, things could have been much worse.
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“His eye socket was caved in and he couldn’t see. I didn’t get the response from him so, you know,” Tibbs told Behind the Gloves. “It’s frustrating, really, because I felt that he was growing into it. But I had to pull it.
“He never said, ‘No, that’s it,’ he left it to me. He took it well, but he was in pain. The eye socket was gone and he was in pain.”
While the call was absolutely the right one and the safety of the fighters is far more important than pride or reputation, Saunders has nonetheless received a lot of criticism for the nature of his defeat purely because of his own previous comments.
In particular, 'BJS' slammed heavyweight Daniel Dubois when he took a knee in his November defeat to Joe Joyce when he realised he had suffered an eye socket injury almost indentical to that at the AT&T Stadium.
“You look at the greats, the eyes, the face, we get through that," Saunders said in the December interview, prior to his win over Martin Murray. "That’s the path in life we choose for a living. We punch people in the face and get punched in the face.
“If my two eye sockets were broken, my jaw was broken, my teeth were out, my nose was smashed, my brain was beaten, I was not stopping until I was knocked out or worse. I don’t agree with a man taking the knee and letting the ref count him out.”