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His team went to work to reduce the swelling, though trainer Mark Tibbs called the world title unification bout off - with Saunders unable to see through his damaged eye.
Tibbs' compassionate stoppage was applauded by critics, but some fans on social media were less forgiving as they suggested Saunders quit in between round eight and nine.
If anyone is giving Billy Joe Saunders any stick, then carry on giving it. I guess the same injury that Daniel Dubois suffered didn't feel that good did it? Gobshite- B G (@BG__85) May 9, 2021
He was right to quit btw but I'm not having a lot of sympathy for him pic.twitter.com/5Xy4nY5kOO
This was the opinion of Billy Joe Saunders when Dubois quit due to an eye injury. pic.twitter.com/Bs61vzyon8- ryan (@smithy2786) May 9, 2021
Billy Joe Saunders fucking quit!- Kevin Cunningham (@KCBoxTrainer) May 9, 2021
That quit from Billy Joe is far worse than the one he lambasted Dubois for. Dubois fought on for 4 or 5 more rounds with the broken eye socket. Billy Joe didn't even try, took the easiest way out.- Capt (@_JamaicaJamaica) May 9, 2021
Billy Joe Saunders started fight week with a threat to quit the fight, then fulfilled that promise on his stool in the ring. #CaneloSaunders- Derek Cooper (@cooperderek) May 9, 2021
Billy joe talked shit about Kell Brook for "quitting" with the same injury and kell fought on a few rounds after. Billy joe talked shit about Dubois saying he quit and that he would have to be carried out before he quit. Billy joe bitched out and QUIT! #CaneloSaunders- (@Kelly___xxx) May 9, 2021
One Twitter user wrote: "I thought billy joe came with a good game plan but damn he quit."
A second tweeted: "Wowwwwww for Billy Joe Saunders to talk so much junk before the fight, showboat during the fight & then QUIT??!!? After the undercard had a premature stoppage??"
A third added: "I had it 4-4, at the time of stoppage......Billy Joe Saunders QUIT."
Saunders' damning pre-fight comments about Daniel Dubois, who suffered a similar eye injury against Joe Joyce last year, came back to haunt him following his decision to 'quit' against Canelo.
"Fighters get in that ring and we know what's on the line," he said.
"Every fighter needs to understand and the fans need to understand that. In the past, we've seen a lot of tragedies in boxing, deaths in the ring.
"Before I go on one knee I'd like to go out on my back with my pulse stopped.
"Everyone has their own thought process in the ring and what went on in the ring I don't know. He obviously felt he could not continue.
"You look at the greats, the eyes, the face, we get through that. 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."
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