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Billy Joe Saunders vs. Max Bursak on April 30 in London, UK

Billy Joe SaundersBy Scott Gilfoid: WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) will be making a soft first defense of his WBO 160lb title next month against #11 WBO fringe contender Max Bursak (32-4-1, 15 KOs) on April 30 at the Copper Box Arena in London, UK. Bursak is about as soft as you can get and still have it as a World Boxing Organization sanctioned fight.

Bursak, 31, has lost three out of his last six fights in the last two years. With that many defeats in such a short period of time, it’s a wonderment that the WBO even has him ranked in their top 15. They obviously must see something in Bursak that I can’t quite understand. I wouldn’t have Bursak in my top 15 or top 50. This is a gawd awful title defense for Saunders. I figured he would go soft in his voluntary defenses of his WBO strap, but I didn’t think he would go this soft. This isn’t even sporting. Bursak has been floundering as of late with his sinking career, and I just don’t see the point in a mismatch like this. Saunders might as well drag Yoann Bloyer (17-27-2) back into the ring for a rematch because the Bursak fight is pretty much the same in terms of talent.

I might have him at bottom 100, but then again I see things from a logical standpoint. I mean, when you lose three out of your last six fights like Bursak, you don’t belong in the top 15. I’m just saying.

Saunders would be better off fighting the guys that beat Bursak rather than Bursak himself, don’t you think? At any rate, here are the fighters that whipped Bursak recently: Jarrod Fletcher, Zac Dunn and Martin Murray. Bursak also lost to Hassan N’Dam by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in 2012. N’Dam would be a good opponent for Saunders. I don’t know why he didn’t choose to fight him rather than the guy he beat in Bursak.

Saunders, 26, recently captured the WBO 160lb title last December with an unimpressive 12 round majority decision win over champion Andy Lee. Saunders would have lost the fight if not for him knocking Lee down twice in the third round. The judges scored it 114-112, 115-111 and 113-113. I had the fight scored a draw. No way did Saunders do enough to win the fight, because he TOTALLY gassed out after the 4th round.

I guess it was the strain of draining down to make the 160lb weight limit that did it to him, or perhaps Saunders just doesn’t have the stamina to fight hard for more than five or six rounds. Saunders weighed in at 173lbs for his previous fight against someone named Yoann Bloyer last year in July. I can only imagine how much Saunders weighed on the night of the fight with Bloyer. He looked like a cruiserweight to me.

Saunders gassed out after six rounds in his fight against Chris Eubank Jr. in November 2014. As such, you can see there’s a clear stamina problem with Saunders that doesn’t look like it’s getting any better as he gets older. I mean, if Saunders is struggling to fight hard for six rounds now, can you imagine what it’ll be like for him when he’s in his early to mid-30s?

I honestly don’t think Saunders will be a factor in the middleweight division by that point in his career. This is as good as it gets right now for Saunders, and I doubt that he’ll be able to hold onto his WBO title for more than a couple of fights as long as the same soft match-making is being done like we’re seeing with him fighting Bursak.

“Nothing comes easy in boxing and I’m definitely not taking Bursak for granted. He’s a good, good, fighter and very dangerous and if I don’t come in 100 percent then he could cause an upset in my first title defence,” said Saunders. I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am and look at the massive fights ahead of me against the likes of Golovkin. So no, I’m going to make sure I’m in perfect shape and give Bursak the toughest night he’s ever had, he’s never been stopped before so that’s something I’m looking at doing.” Said Saunders.

It’s unclear if Saunders will face IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in the near future. I know that Golovkin wants to face Saunders, and his promoters at K2 Promotions were ready to make a nice offer. However, I don’t know that Saunders will bother taking that fight. He might wind up being sorry that he didn’t take it if he gasses out after six rounds in one of his voluntary defenses.

I’m not high on Bursak, but if you gas out after six rounds against the Ukrainian, he’s going to take over the fight and cruise in the last six rounds. Andy Lee would have beaten Saunders if he had done more than box him in the second half of their contest.

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