Billy Joe Saunders vs. Artur Akavov on October 22
By Scott Gilfoid: As I predicted earlier this week in an article, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) will be fighting little known #11 WBO fringe contender Artur Akavov (16-1 7 KOs) next month on October 22 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales. I hate to be so right all the time with my predictions. This is sad news because Saunders should be fighting better opposition than this. You can always tell what type of champion a fighter is going to be when they immediately start fighting the bottom fringe contenders, as we’re seeing here with Saunders.
I rightly figured that the 28-year-old Akavov would get the fight with Saunders because he was arguably the most flawed of the World Boxing Organization’s top 15 contenders in their rankings, and sure enough, I was right. What can I say? It’s sad but I’ve gotten to the point where I can predict who Saunders will be fighting merely by studying the type of opposition he’s faced in the past.
Here’s what I said earlier this week about Saunders picking Akavov for his next fight:
<>b>”I’m predicting that Saunders will wind up facing the 28-year-old Akavov, as he looks to be by FAR the worst of the two candidates. It’s not even close, which is why I see Akavov getting the job.”
So there it is. My prediction has turned out to be correct, and it’s so, so sad how Saunders has turned out to be so utterly predictable in selecting his opponent for his October 22 fight. The other candidate that I had in the running for Saunders’ October 22 fight was Rob Brant. I saw him as almost as flawed as Akavov. However, I figured wouldn’t get the fight with Saunders because he has a little pop in his punches, and he’s an accurate puncher. Brant also can fight hard for a full 12 rounds rather than just six like Saunders. As such, Brant would have been more than handful for Saunders despite the fact that he’s BADLY flawed as a fighter. It doesn’t matter that Brant is flawed, because Saunders has a ton of flaws in his own game, and there are no easy outs for him in the WBO’s top 15 rankings other than Akavov in my view. For that reason, I picked Akavov to get the fight with Saunders by the process of elimination.
Another reason why I feel that Akavov is getting the fight with Saunders instead of one of the better known and arguably more talented contenders in the WBO’s top 15 is because if Saunders wins this fight, he’s got a good chance of getting a big payday fight against Mexican star Saunders “Canelo” Alvarez in May of 2017 on Cinco de Mayo. Canelo vs. Saunders would be televised on HBO pay-per-view just like Canelo’s recent fight against former WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith. I suspect that few U.S boxing fans will want to pay to see the fight, because they will likely have never heard of Saunders and will see it as another mismatch like Canelo’s fight against Liam Smith. Still, Canelo vs. Saunders will be good for 250,000 pay-per-view buys at least on HBO. If Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions can name drop middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s name enough during the buildup to the Canelo-Saunders fight, they might be able to get 300,000 boxing fans to purchase the fight on PPV. Of course, if Golden Boy doesn’t match Canelo up against Golovkin in his next fight in September 2017, then I see them getting diminishing returns with each fight thereafter. In other words, Golden Boy can’t keep name dropping Golovkin’s name before Canelo’s fights against overmatched opponents like Saunders and Liam Smith and expect the American boxing public to keep purchasing his fights on PPV. The fans will see though the match-ups, and stay away in droves.
This will be Saunders’ long overdue first defense of his WBO 160lb title, which he barely won last December in beating Andy Lee by a 12 round majority decision. Saunders knocked Lee down twice in round three of that fight, and yet he STILL barely won the fight. On cue, Saunders gassed out in the last six rounds of the fight, allowing Lee to get back into the fight and make it close in the end. If Lee hadn’t been dropped twice in the 3rd, he would have won the fight, because Saunders really gassed out badly in the last six rounds. I actually scored the fight a draw. I thought Lee had won enough rounds to tie it up at the end. I didn’t think he would get a draw though. I predicted he would lose even though he did enough to get the draw, and I was right. It’s so sad. It’s not surprising that Lee wasn’t given a rematch. I didn’t think he would. As hard as that fight was for Saunders, I’d be surprised if Lee ever gets a second fight with Saunders. I don’t see it happening ever. Lee gave Saunders all he could handle, and for that reason, I can’t see him getting a rematch in this lifetime. The Saunders vs. Lee fight took place in Manchester, UK.
I doubt that the news of the Saunders-Akavov fight is going to interest a lot of fans in the UK. I could be wrong, but my guess is few, if any of the British boxing fans will have heard of Akavov before. I only found out about Akavov when I was predicting who Saunders was going to be fighting next. I looked at the top 15, and then painfully researched each of the top 15 contenders to find out their talent. When I got to Akavov, I found what I felt was the perfect guy for Saunders to beat. This is a sure thing win for Saunders in my opinion.
“Nothing comes easy in boxing and I’m definitely not taking Akavov for granted,” said Saunders. He’s a strong fighter and very dangerous and if I don’t come in 100 percent then he could cause an upset in my first title defence.“
What’s interesting here is that Saunders reportedly turned down fights against Willie Monroe, Curtis Stevens, Hassan N’Dam and Gabriel Rosado. Supposedly, Saunders wasn’t interested in fighting those guys because he felt he would get no credit for beating them. But what’s funny though is he goes from those guys to picking little known Akavov for his next fight. I hate to break the news to Saunders, but I think the boxing world is more familiar with Monroe, Stevens, N’Dam and Rosado than they are with Akavov. I’m just saying.
At this point, I think Saunders would be better off fighting Rosado than Akavov despite the fact that Rosado was soundly beaten in his last fight by Rosado on September 17. As bad as Rosado looked in that fight against Monroe, I STILL see him as a better fighter than Akavov.
Akavov has fought a lot of obscure opposition during his five-year pro career. Akavov was beaten by Oleg Liseev (3-1) by an eight round unanimous decision in April 2012. Akakov never avenged the loss unfortunately. Recently, Akavov has beaten the following fighters in his last three fights: Todd Manuel (11-10-1), Freddy Lopez (9-2) and Michel Mothmora (27-23). They’ve got nice records, don’t they? As you can tell, Akavov is still not being put in with quality opposition, and yet he’s now getting a world title shot. It’s confusing, sad, but so predictable.
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