Dillian Whyte produced one of the performances of his career to gain revenge on Alexander Povetkin and put himself firmly back into the world heavyweight title picture with a clinical fourth-round knockout in Gibraltar.

The Briton's lengthy quest to earn a title shot hit the buffers after Povetkin won their first bout in Brentwood last August by catching Whyte with a bruising uppercut, despite having been put down twice prior to that fifth-round shock.

In a case of deja vu, Whyte - who now improves to 28-2-0 (19 KOs) by triumphing in the 'Rumble on the Rock' - sent Povetkin to the floor with a crushing hook in round four, and though the Russian tried to stumble back to his feet the referee stopped the contest with the towel thrown in by his camp.

For Whyte, it was an emphatic statement and the end of a frustrating wait after this rematch was twice scuppered with Povetkin having suffered the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection.

A dominant performance, in which the jab landed with regularity, sees Whyte become the WBC's 'interim' heavyweight champion but his sights could now turn to facing former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, while in the long term whoever triumphs in the mouthwatering unification bout between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will be on his radar.

"I was ready straight away. He's a tough guy, I think I could have finished him early. I'm ready to run it back again that's how I feel," Whyte, who went through a drastic body transformation and had his sugar intake over Christmas monitored by a nutritionist, told Sky Sports.

"If he wants a rematch, they offer me the right money I'll go again. I'm annoyed, the first time I shouldn't have lost. I made a mistake and paid for it. 

"From the first round I was on to him, then I was like let me relax, don't blow up. I was tempted to go hell for leather the first round, then I thought it might not be the best thing to do. 

"He's only lost to me, Joshua and [Wladimir] Klitschko. Yeah, I still believe I can be world champion. This camp was a bit annoying because of the rescheduling, I was in much better shape than this. I had to stop-start, change up nutrition."

Povetkin - whose record now reads 36-3-1 (25 KOs) - was in trouble as early as round one, with Whyte staggering his opponent with a clubbing body shot and landing flush with a hook that left the Russian on wobbly legs.

To his credit, Povetkin steadied himself and landed with a hook of his own in the second but Whyte continued to control proceedings behind the jab and landing rights from range.

Whyte went to the floor in round three but only after losing his footing and soon clubbed Povetkin with another huge right.

That was the precursor to a barnstorming finish. Povetkin was already in trouble from another mammoth blow and Whyte finished the job with one more huge hook, before graciously racing over to the opposite corner with a stool to help the recovery of his beaten opponent.

When Dillian Whyte stepped into the ring with Alexander Povetkin last August he had his route to WBC title glory all mapped out.

But a crushing fifth-round uppercut sent him on a diversion that few would have envisaged, packing his bags for a small British overseas territory and a rematch with huge ramifications for his career.

A win on Saturday would silence the doubters and put Whyte firmly back on track, but the fall that a repeat performance would bring is likely to be more precipitous than the drop from the famous Rock of Gibraltar, which stands proudly just a few short miles from where the fight will take place.

Whyte was left to nurse his wounds, both physical and emotional, after a second career loss when the first fight had seemed to be going his way.

Not once but twice he put Povetkin down in the fourth round, only for the Russian to climb to his feet and seal the deal in the next thanks to a colossal uppercut.

And now 'The Body Snatcher' knows he is laying it all on the line this weekend, describing a bout nominally for the WBC 'interim' title as "the most important fight of my career".

The unexpected location is the result of some creative thinking from promoter Eddie Hearn amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the Europa Point Sports Complex able to host 500 spectators for the 'Rumble on the Rock'.

Whyte is the bookmakers' firm favourite, as he was in the first meeting, but painting Povetkin as an underdog who produced a lucky shot would be a long way wide of the mark.

The experienced campaigner will expect to have to soak up some pressure and wait for his moment, but he showed in brutal fashion last time out that he is capable of doing just that.

RECENT HISTORY

It was a thrilling heavyweight clash between the pair in the Matchroom bubble seven months ago, when Anthony Joshua was watching on as a pundit.

Whyte had lost almost a stone and a half since his previous bout with Mariusz Wach, looking sharp in the early stages as he landed the jab frequently.

He refused to let up and had Povetkin downed with a brilliant punch early in round four, yet the veteran fighter was quickly back to his feet.

The assault continued and Povetkin was dropped again in the closing stages of the same round by a venomous left uppercut.

Yet, in a stunning turnaround, the fight was ended by one huge Povetkin blow moments into the fifth.

TALE OF THE TAPE 

DILLIAN WHYTE
Age: 32
Height: 6ft 4ins (193cm) 
Weight: 247.2 lbs
Reach: 78ins  
Professional record: 27-2-0 (18 KOs) 

ALEXANDER POVETKIN
Age: 41
Height: 6ft 2ins (188cm) 
Weight: 228 ¼ lbs
Reach: 75ins  
Professional record: 36-2-1 (25 KOs) 

THE UNDERCARD

Ted Cheeseman takes on JJ Metcalf for the British super-welterweight belt, while Fabio Wardley and Eric Molina meet in an intriguing heavyweight clash.

Ricky Hatton's son Campbell makes his professional debut, the 19-year-old taking on Jesus Ruiz in a super-featherweight contest.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Whyte is in no doubt as to the quality of his opponent but he is ready to go all-out in pursuit of glory: "I'm constantly improving, he's a good fighter – top amateur, [Olympic] gold medal winner, world champion, all that. But I'm still improving and getting better every day. On Saturday, I'm coming to leave it all on the line once again."

It was a slightly more relaxed tone adopted by Povetkin, who reflected on the location: "I'm very happy to be in this unusual place. I'm relaxed and confident."

Dillian Whyte plans to prove any doubters wrong as he looks to even the score against Alexander Povetkin in a heavyweight rematch taking place in the unlikely location of Gibraltar.

The first meeting between the pair, staged back in August 2020, was eventful to say the least – Povetkin getting knocked down twice in the fourth round before producing a sensational stoppage.

An uppercut in the fifth from the Russian turned the tables and emphatically burst Whyte's best-laid future plans inside the Matchroom bubble, having known a win would secure a shot at the WBC title.

It was just a second career loss for 'The Body Snatcher', who understands he cannot afford a repeat result on Saturday.

"This is the most important fight of my career," Whyte said at a news conference on Thursday.

"I've been through ups and downs throughout my life, I'm used to bouncing back, I'm used to coming back and proving people wrong, showing people what I can do when they've written me off.

"It's nothing. I'm constantly improving, he's a good fighter – top amateur, [Olympic] gold medal winner, world champion, all that.

"But I'm still improving and getting better every day. On Saturday, I'm coming to leave it all on the line once again."

With the ongoing restrictions regarding travel and fans attending events due to the coronavirus pandemic, promoter Eddie Hearn has opted to take the show on the road.

The Europa Point Sports Complex in Gibraltar will stage the second bout, so 500 spectators will be allowed inside the venue for what is being dubbed the 'Rumble on the Rock'.

"It will be good to have the fans," Whyte said. "This fight is as big as any world-title fight.

"This place will be jumping; it will be rocking."

Povetkin, who has also only lost twice in his career in the pros, is reading nothing into what happened in the previous meeting, knowing only too well the damage Whyte can do.

"I'm very happy to be in this unusual place. I'm relaxed and confident," he said.

"I think Dillian will be better in this second fight, but at the same time I will try to pay more attention to my defence. Forget the story of the first fight."

Mike Tyson has declared he will meet fellow former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield for a third time on May 29.

The two boxing icons, now aged 54 and 58 respectively, have frequently floated the prospect of a trilogy encounter since footage was published of Tyson training with impressive ferocity last year.

Tyson did indeed return to the ring in 2020, more than 15 years after his last professional outing, and boxed an exhibition against fellow great Roy Jones Jr.

Holyfield's representatives told The Athletic this week that Tyson's team had "rejected all offers" and they "ended up wasting our time" during negotiations.

But, during an Instagram Live interview with Haute Living, Tyson said the bout was "on" this Memorial Weekend.

"I just want everybody to know the fight is on with me and Holyfield," he said, with Hard Rock Stadium in Miami having been mooted as a potential venue.

"Holyfield is a humble man, I know that, and he's a man of God. But I'm God's man and I'm going to be successful, May 29."

Tyson and Holyfield's 1990s rivalry at the top of the heavyweight division has long gone down in sporting ignominy but remains a topic of grim fascination due to the abrupt and sudden ending to their second encounter in Las Vegas in 1997.

Having complained to referee Mills Lane about Holyfield using headbutts, Tyson bit a chunk out of the top of his opponent's right ear during a clinch in round three and spat it on to the canvas.

A delay ensued as Holyfield received medical treatment and Lane considered disqualifying Tyson before deciding against that course of action when ringside doctor said the reigning WBA champion was fit to continue, opting merely to deduct two points from the challenger.

However, Tyson then bit Holyfield's left ear when the action resumed and, when this became apparent at the end of round three, the fight was stopped.

That such a fiasco remains the defining event of their rivalry in the public imagination does Holyfield a disservice, such was the comprehensive and against-the-odds nature of his win in their initial meeting the previous November.

The former unified world cruiserweight champion had to bide his time for a shot at the self-styled 'Baddest Man on the Planet', with a planned meeting in 1990 thrown off course by Tyson's shock loss of his WBC, WBA and IBF belts to James 'Buster' Douglas.

Holyfield stopped Douglas inside three rounds of his first defence but losses to Michael Moorer and in two of his three thrilling bouts with Riddick Bowe, along with a brief retirement due to a heart complaint, gave the impression of boxing's only over four-time heavyweight champion being damaged goods by the time he got a crack at Tyson on the other side of the latter's prison sentence for rape.

But a then 34-year-old Holyfield came through some heavy weather early on to dominate Tyson and batter his compatriot to a stunning 11th-round defeat, setting the stage for a rematch that went down in history for all the wrong reasons.

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

The hurdles to overcome in getting to this point were not inconsiderable, with Fury working under a co-promotional deal with Frank Warren and Bob Arum's Top Rank, both of whom have rival broadcasting agreements to Hearn's contracts with Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN globally.

Fury's most recent bouts have been aired by BT Sport in his homeland and via ESPN in the United States.

The expectation of ongoing coronavirus restrictions makes the prospect of at least the first fight taking place on British soil feel far-fetched, with a return of heavyweight title boxing to the Middle East – where Joshua avenged his only career defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr with a December 2019 points win in Saudi Arabia – appearing most likely.

"I actually feel we've done the hard part," Hearn said. "Speaking for myself, Anthony and his team at 258 management, I know how hard we've worked hard these last couple of months and I just feel that this fight is so big it's not a difficult sell.

"We've already had approaches from eight or nine sites. The offers have come from multiple countries in the Middle East, from Asia, eastern Europe and America.

"This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself."

Some typically idiosyncratic interviews from Fury over recent days, where he stated he had no interest in boxing in the UK again, while claiming to have stopped training in favour of "concentrating on getting me 10 pints of Stella", appeared to cast some doubt upon the Joshua fights getting over the line – especially considering the 32-year-old's previously well-documented struggles with alcohol and depression.

"You never really know with Tyson," Hearn said. "It could be mind games. He could be having a bad day. He could be a little p***** off. Or he could be having a joke.

"One of the fascinations about this fight will be the build-up because they're two totally different characters, two totally different personalities. The mind games will be on another level for this fight. Tyson is very good at that.

"Anthony is excited by that. He's so pumped, so focused, he hasn't stopped training since the Pulev fight. He's like a caged lion. The build-up is going to be epic."

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

Juan Francisco Estrada unified the WBC and WBA super-flyweight titles with a thrilling split-decision win over Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez.

Estrada earned a narrow victory after an all-action bout at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Saturday.

The Mexican saw two judges score the fight in his favour (117-111 and 115-113), while another saw it 115-113 to Gonzalez.

It saw Estrada retain his WBC crown and add Gonzalez's WBA title to his collection, gaining some revenge for his loss to the Nicaraguan in late 2012.

"I think I did enough to win," Estrada told DAZN after his win.

"'Chocolatito' is a great fighter, I think he deserves the trilogy."

Gonzalez told DAZN: "Whatever happened had to happen but I gave it a good fight.

"I would've been happy either way with a result, I did my work."

Estrada and Gonzalez put on a show, combining to throw more than 2,500 punches.

The pair went at each other from the outset, both landing big shots during a wild fourth round.

Neither slowed down and the all-action fight went the distance before Estrada was awarded the split-decision win.

Whenever boxing's matchmakers put together a bout that promises fireworks and destructive drama from the opening bell, pundits and fans alike spit out the same three syllables.

Hagler-Hearns.

Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns shared seven minutes and 52 seconds of unfathomable brutality in Las Vegas in April 1985, setting an impossible bar for every all-action fight ever since.

Hagler and Hearns met in their primes as two stars of a golden age in the sport's middle weights. The celebrated "Four Kings" were completed by fellow greats 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

There were nine fights in all between the quartet, spanning 1980 to 1989. Leonard and Duran met three times, with both men going the distance against Hagler. Hearns and Leonard shared 26 rounds over the course of two enthralling bouts separated by almost eight years.

And yet, the comparatively brief period Hearns and Hagler spent in one another's violent orbit stands as the high watermark of the era for many.

After Hagler died aged 66 on Saturday, we look back at three rounds that shook the world.

 

ROUND ONE

An elongated promotional tour taking in 21 cities whipped up severe animosity between the two fighters, with long-reigning unified middleweight king Hagler brooding over the perceived higher public standing afforded to fellow Americans Leonard and Hearns, along with the latter's withdrawal from their proposed 1982 meeting with a hand injury.

Hearns had showcased terrifying power at welterweight and light-middleweight. He demolished Duran inside two rounds in 1984, at the same Caesars Palace outdoor arena that staged his clash with Hagler.

Therefore, the expectations were of a measured start from the older man, who would draw the sting from a 26-year-old Hearns at a then-unfamiliar weight before taking him into deep waters.

Hagler was not reading from that script.

After eyeballing his foe throughout the introductions, he tore out of his corner at the opening bell and unleashed a wild and winging right hand that Hearns just managed to duck. The tone was set and there would be no let-up.

Hagler's gameplan – insofar as it could be deciphered from underneath the red mist – was to negate Hearns' three-inch reach advantage by attacking the younger man to the body.

Initially, that was a march straight into trouble as Hearns caught him with a left hand coming in and followed up with a right hook to shake Hagler.

The champion held for the briefest of respites before leather began to fly in centre ring – Hagler unleashing his chopping left hook and locating Hearns' chin to force a retreat to the neutral corner.

Hurt, Hearns shot back under heavy fire to escape the peril Hagler had planned on the ropes.

There was a minute gone.

The hunter and hunted patter was established. Hearns clipped Hagler with a left off the back foot to draw him on to a short right. Worryingly for the 'Motor City Cobra', 'Marvellous' was entirely unperturbed.

Hagler's booming straight right was working effectively, but Hearns' blurring fists continued to punctuate a fight in fast forward. A pair of rights found the jaw, still Hagler came. A flashing uppercut, still he came. But there was blood. A lot of it.

"There's blood all over Marvin Hagler's face, I can't tell where it's coming from," yelped commentator Al Bernstein

Seemingly spurred on by the change in circumstances, Hagler forced Hearns into the red corner and got to work, pounding the body. Hearns was sharp in the eye of the storm, soaking up two crunching left hooks and fighting his way out of trouble.

Well, until that unerring Hagler straight right sent him tottering backwards with nine seconds left in the round. By the time the bell sounded, they were trading once more.

Hearns landed 56 of 83 punches in the first round as Hagler connected with 50 of 82. It still beggars belief.

ROUND TWO

"Don't worry about the cut, Marvin," said his cornerman Goody Petronelli, unknowing that there were bigger problems afoot on the other stood.

At some point in the fury of the first three minutes, Hearns had broken his wrecking ball right. This perhaps explained his willingness to begin the second on the jab – that tool of relative conservatism largely lost in the maelstrom of round one.

Hagler met this adjustment with a change of his own. The switch-hitter turned to an orthodox stance for the first time in the fight and landed with a left-right combination.

Regardless, there would be no backwards step from Hagler. Back he went to southpaw, a right jab leaving Hearns disorganised and opening up more opportunities to the body.

A straight right was Hearns' retort along with crisp lefts to head and body, but Hagler shrugged them off and continued to bore forwards with blood all over the place.

His left hook was working like a dream and shuddering rights had Hearns in trouble on the ropes.

When the bell sounded, Hagler's bloody mask and Hearns' exhausted body gave both men the look of beaten fighters.

ROUND THREE

"Just box him, stay away and box him," Emanuel Steward implored Hearns, although the great tactician had reason to sense the bout was slipping away.

Aghast, Steward found one of Hearns' entourage giving him a leg massage before the fight. Combined with the concussive head shots Hagler had landed at will, the result was rubbery limbs that did not convince as the Kronk Gym favourite looked to get on the balls of his feet and skip away at the start of round three.

Hagler's eyes never deviated from a moving target, but his problems were also stacking up.

Referee Richard Steele was increasingly zealous when it came to breaking the fighters up, preventing Hagler from doing the work he wanted to on the inside. After one of the official's interventions, he called the ringside doctor to have a look at the champion's increasingly gruesome cut.

Given Hearns opened the cut with a punch, a TKO defeat was on the cards for Hagler if he was deemed unfit to continue.

But no referee or no doctor was stopping this fight. Hagler decided it was time to take care of adjudication himself.

He had started to measure Hearns' increasingly predictable retreats, and a right to the side of the head saw his opponent stagger sidewards across the right, almost turning his back. Hagler knew the time was now.

A follow-up right to the temple robbed Hearns of any remaining equilibrium and another to the jaw saw him sag back before collapsing downwards, the breeze of Hagler's superfluous follow-up shots doing nothing to rouse him.

Flat on his back, Hearns tried valiantly to beat Steele's count, but a valedictory triumph belonged to Hagler after a cacophony of violent mayhem and savagery that remains celebrated to this day.

Former undisputed middleweight champion Marvin Hagler has died aged 66.

Hagler died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday, his wife, Kay, announced on Facebook.

"I am sorry to make a very sad announcement. Today, unfortunately my beloved husband Marvelous Marvin passed away unexpectedly at his home here in New Hampshire," a statement posted on his official fan page read.

"Our family requests that you respect our privacy during this difficult time. With love."

Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champion between 1980 and 1987, cementing his place as one of the greatest boxers of all-time.

The American finished his professional career, which ended in 1987, with a 62-3-2 record.

His victory over Thomas Hearns in 1985, which became known as 'The War', is remembered as the most famous fight of his career.

Hagler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

Tyson Fury claims he is drinking up to "12 pints of lager a day" and not training or eating as he cast doubts over whether he will fight Anthony Joshua.

Fury's promoter Bob Arum this month stated that a deal has finally been agreed for a heavyweight unification bout to be staged.

WBC champion Fury has let it be known he is tired of waiting to get into the ring with his fellow Briton and claims he has stepped up his alcohol intake rather than his training schedule.

"I have stopped training at the moment, I am on holiday," Fury, who last fought against Deontay Wilder in February 2020, told the IFL.

"I am drinking anything between eight, 10, 12 pints of lager a day, at the minute, but I am not eating so I am getting my calories through alcohol.

"I have trained and trained and trained with no progress so I am now a man of leisure."

Fury says he is not paying any attention over talk of an agreement to fight Joshua being done until it is signed and sealed, suggesting that may never happen.

He added: "Whatever they say is very unimportant to me because, until I have a fight date and a hell of a lot of money in my pocket, there is no fight.

"Will I be fighting Joshua in the next 10 minutes? No. Do I think the fight will eventually happen? Yes, it has to happen. Do I think it is next or imminent? No. I am not going to hold my breath for it, that's for sure.

"I am not going to put all my eggs in one basket because I have been guilty of doing that before and, when the fight doesn't happen, that is when I end up in a massive depression and feel like killing myself.

"I am not going to say ‘it is definitely happening in June or July."

Bob Arum says a deal for a blockbuster world heavyweight unification fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua has finally been agreed.

WBC champion Fury last month stated that he had grown tired of waiting for his next bout amid talks with Joshua's camp.

Joshua told Fury he was ready to fight him "in my back garden [or] your back garden".

A roadmap has been set up by coronavirus restrictions to be eased over the coming months in the United Kingdom, with social distancing rules potentially being lifted on June 21.

That could make an all-British battle a possibility on home soil in June and although Arum could not provide details, Fury's promoter believes an agreement has been reached.

"As far as I'm concerned, all the points have been agreed to," the American told IFL TV. 

"That's what each side has said. Now, we're just scrambling around to get things signed.

"I can say clearly, based on my view of everything, there are no more issues."

Undefeated world champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will meet to decide the undisputed light-welterweight king in Las Vegas on May 22.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) added the WBA belt to his IBF crown when he beat Regis Prograis via majority decision in the thrilling October 2019 World Boxing Super Series final.

The Scottish southpaw made short work of Apinun Khongsong in his first defence, stopping the challenger with a brutal first-round body shot.

American Ramirez (26-0 17 KOs) was, like Taylor, a 2012 Olympian but boasts more experience in the professional ranks.

He consolidated the WBC title by stopping then-WBO ruler Maurice Hooker inside six rounds in July 2019.

A points win over one-time Taylor victim Viktor Postol last August kept those belts in Ramirez's possession and it means all four of the major titles in the division will be on the line when the fighters meet in under three months' time.

"I'm excited it's finalised and over the line," Taylor said. "I can't wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career.

"Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about."

Ramirez added he is confident he can make history for a boxer of Mexican lineage, with undisputed status similarly a target for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at super-middleweight this year.

"I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts," he said.

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hailed "a true 50-50 fight" that "the fans and both fighters demanded".

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez will start May's super-middleweight unification showdown "three rounds" to the good, according to WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders.

Canelo will put his WBA and WBC belts on the line against the undefeated Saunders on May 8 after clinically dispatching an over-matched Anvi Yildirim in three rounds in Miami on Saturday.

Saunders was set to face Canelo last May before the coronavirus shutdown intervened and British fighter has already moved to start the pre-fight mind games by suggesting the pound-for-pound Mexican superstar has benefitted from favourable scorecards in the past.

Canelo boxed to a draw and a majority decision win over the course of two thrilling and close bouts with Gennadiy Golovkin.

Back in 2013, when the four-weight champion suffered his only career loss to the great Floyd Mayweather Jr, one judge remarkably scored the fight a draw.

Such instances appear to be at the forefront of Saunders' mind – with good reason given only 14 of his 30 career wins have come by stoppage.

"So long as I make sure everything's on a fair playing field," he told iFL TV.

"To me, money doesn't really matter. Victory matters.

"When someone works all their life to get to where they need to get in life, it's very important that people be fair.

"If I win, give me the decision. If I don't win, I don't win. But as long as it's fair.

"I already know when I go there I'm three rounds down. So I need to make sure everyone's on a fair, even playing field."

Caleb Plant's IBF strap will be the only major prize at 168lbs residing outside of a blockbuster contest.

However, to Saunders, the prospect of defeating a fighter widely recognised as the finest in the sport appeals far more than whatever baubles that might bring.

"This ain't really about nothing but me versus him. Winner v winner, that's what it is," he said.

"We know nobody is unbeatable. Nobody. That's for sure.

"It's going to be a very tough fight and a very hard one. But I wouldn't just be getting in this ring for money or for a chance just to be seen.

"I'm going in there for one reason and one reason only. May 8 can't come quick enough."

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