Former middleweight and super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders is coming off of the biggest fight of his career (by far), a stoppage loss to Canelo Alvarez on May 8, where Saunders was pulled from the fight with a bad injury to his eye socket.
Saunders spoke with talkSPORT about the ending to the fight, the injury, and what’s left for him in boxing.
Saunders said his eye socket was broken in three places, and he’s been enjoying time with his family since his surgery. He also gave credit to Canelo, calling him “a world class fighter” who “caught me with a world class shot.”
He also said that he did want to go on, though admitting the injury was affecting him, and that the corner made the call to end the fight with Alvarez.
More interesting is that Saunders says he’s legitimately considering stepping away from the sport entirely now:
“At the end of the day, I’m 31 years old, if I don’t ever wanna work again, wanna sit back, wanna chill, I can do that. … Because coming down from fights like that, it’s very hard, where do you go from there? I’ll have a chat with my dad because he’ll have a big say in it. … It’s one of them where it’s 50/50. Whether I think, I will have one more or a couple more, but they’ve gotta be the right sort of fights. If he says, ‘Leave it son, don’t go back for more,’ then that’s probably what I’ll do.”
Boxing being boxing and boxers being boxers, it’s not unusual to hear someone at 31 talk about retiring after they’ve already had a good run in the sport. Fighters are more keenly aware of the dangers of hanging around too long and taking punishment, and Billy Joe’s made some good money; if he’s done well with that money, he may easily be able to hang up the gloves and say he’s done enough in the sport.
But it’s also not unusual for this sort of talk to go nowhere, or for a fighter to announce somewhere between one and five retirements and keep coming back, anyway. Many really try to step out, but can’t shake the competitive itch. Some just don’t know what to do retiring from their career so young. Some wind up needing money. Others get a little break, heal up, feel good, and come back to do well. And a few actually stay retired and that’s just that.
So you never know. But Saunders is at least considering it, and it’s not the first time he’s talked about stepping away young, either.