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Saunders’ next opponent – Artur Akavov or Rob Brant


By Allan Fox: WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’s opponent for his next fight on October 29 will be either #7 WBO Rob Brant (21-0, 14 KOs) or #11 Artur Akavov (16-1, 7 KOS) for the undercard of the Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko II card at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.

This is a disappointment to say the least that one of these two guys will wind up being Saunders’ next opponent, because he could have been fighting the like of Gabriel Rosado, Willie Monroe Jr. or Curtis Stevens on the undercard of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith card this Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view from the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

If Saunders had faced one of them, then he could have gotten a fight against Canelo, according to Dan Rafael. It would have been a huge fight for Saunders to fight Canelo, and all he would have had to do to get it would have been for him to beat the likes of Rosado, Stevens or Monroe.

“We’ll make our decision on the opponent in the next day or so,” said Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren to “Hopefully, we can do it before I fly out to the states for the Liam Smith fight this weekend.”

The 28-year-old southpaw Akavov appears to be the more vulnerable of the two contenders that are in the running for Saunders’ fight next month. The Russian Akavov doesn’t have much hand speed to speak of, and he mainly throws left hands. He’s kind of a one-armed fighter in that he doesn’t use his right arm much of the time. It’s mostly just repeated left hands from Akavov. At 5’9”, Akavov isn’t much of a threat to beating Saunders. In 2012, Akavov suffered his only defeat in losing to Oleg Lissev by an eight round unanimous decision. Akavov was knocked down in the 4th. Akavov has won his last 11 fights since then, albeit against weak opposition exclusively.

The 25-year-old Rob Brant would be a tougher test for Saunders, as he’s got some punching power and decent hand speed going for him. Brant has knocked out eight of his last nine opponents. Still, he looks like a flawed fighter, and not in the same league as Saunders. It would be an easy fight for Saunders to win if he faces him, as long as he can deal with the occasional power punch from Brand.

If Saunders is looking for a sure thing win, then Akavov might be the guy that he should consider fighting. That’s who I expect Saunders to be fighting next. I don’t think he’s particularly interested in facing a good contender. I think Saunders is looking to get a big payday fight against Gennady Golovkin or Canelo.

Wladimir Klitschko: I never thought about retiring

40-year-old former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) says he never considered for a moment retiring from boxing following his 12 round unanimous decision loss to Britain’s Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 Kos) last November in Dusseldorf, Germany. Wladimir put in a poor performance in which he failed to throw punches at a high enough rate to get the win. His trainer Jonathon Banks and brother Vitali Klitschko both tried to persuade Wladimir to throw punches to attack Fury, but he was unwilling to do so. Each round, Wladimir would follow Fury around the ring with his right hand cocked but unable or unwilling to throw punches.

Wladimir said to

“There was never a thought about retiring. I was suffering with thoughts like ‘Wait a second; that must be a dream’. I actually woke up and was like ‘This is not for real’, because that’s not what I get used to.

Wladimir is fighting a rematch against Fury next month on October 29 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK. This is a long-awaited rematch, as neither fighter has fought since last November. They were supposed to fight last July, but Fury hurt an ankle while training. The rescheduling of the fight for October 29 works in Fury’s favor, because if gave him more time to take off weight that he’d put on after his win over Wladimir.

“It took me two days to shake it off. By Tuesday, I said ‘I’m going to execute the option in our contract, for a rematch’. By Wednesday we announced it. The first days, I just needed to understand what happened,” said Wladimir.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened to Wladimir last November. He wasn’t willing to throw punches. He looked worried of getting countered by Fury. The same thing will happen in the rematch if Wladimir doesn’t become a little more courageous. He’s got the right hand power and speed to win this fight easily, but he’s got to commit to the punch. If he can’t get himself to throw his shots, then it’s going to be another loss for Wladimir.

With Wladimir fighting in the UK, it could be difficult for him, because the boxing fans are going to be on Fury’s side. Wladimir hasn’t had to deal with fighting in front of hostile fans as a pro, and he might not react well. Another loss for Wladimir to Fury could be bad news for the Ukrainian fighter’s career. He could brush off one loss as saying he wasn’t at his best, but not two. Wladimir would have to come to terms with the reality that he doesn’t have the skills or the youth to beat the best any longer.

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