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Billy Jo Saunders: Is he ready for the big time?


By Angel Flowers: WBO World Middleweight champion Billy Jo Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) has beaten every opponent placed in front of him. While his KO ratio is slightly less than fifty percent, Saunders has faced and beaten five fighters who were undefeated before facing him including heavy handed Chris Eubank Jr. before ultimately beating Andy lee for the title knocking down the former champion multiple times in the fight.

There are many out there who believe both Eubank and Lee actually won or at least drew in their fight with Saunders, but I am of the mind that if the judges rule against you, stop crying and just get yourself better. In his first defense Saunders has avoided some tough fights in order to fight unknown and feather-fisted Artur Akavov (16-1, 7 KOs) on October 22nd at the Motorpoint Arena, in Cardiff, Wales.

I think this is an easy match up and although many will criticize Saunders for picking Akavov when he could have had a spot on new WBO Junior Middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez undercard but I am definitely not one of them.

The fighters he was offered to face, Willie Monroe, Gabriel Rosado and Curtis Stevens are decent fighters who are only well known for getting beaten by WBC/WBA/IBO/IBF Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Facing and beating anyone of them would not really prove anything for Saunders, he would be seen as picking up leftovers, and of course there is the chance Saunders could lose. I personally think his time as champion is numbered so he should cash out in the biggest money fight he could get in the middleweight division; his opponent though has to have a big enough name so that if Saunders beats him, he will get the credit that is due. I only see one real person Saunders could fight and make decent money, but before we get to that here are the people he shouldn’t fight.

Saunders could try and make a fight with GGG, but I doubt that will happen for several reasons. For one GGG has taken to fighting welterweights while failing to fight the bigger fighters. After he beat welterweight champion Kell “Special K” Brook on September 10, Triple G bragged about Brook’s lack of power despite being caught flush a number of times by Brook. I don’t think that was a reason to brag about being able to take a punch from a man two weight classes lower but GGG sees this as some sort of badge of honor. I think Golovkin will price himself out of a fight with Saunders should negotiations ever take place. While I am not a big fan of Saunders personally, I am sure he is a bigger draw than Golovkin. The casual boxing fan in the United States hasn’t really heard of any of them but Saunders is a decent draw in his native UK. Golovkin though would attempt to negotiate for Mayweather type money like he did in turning down a huge payday against Alvarez, a man who was willing to come up to 160 to fight him. The next person talked about is Daniel Jacobs but there are multiple reasons I never see this fight happening either.

Jacobs despite being the WBA regular champion has no name and has a shaky chin. The only notable fighters on his resume he has beaten is Peter Quillin and Ishe Smith, two former champions as flawed as he is. Jacobs was beaten badly before being knocked out in his fight with little known Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs is supposed to be in negotiations to fight Golovkin next. It’s an easy fight for GGG that I do not see lasting past three rounds and that is only if Golovkin gets off to a slow start. The fact that any potential fight between Golovkin and Jacobs will most likely be on cable instead of pay per view will show you what the American public thinks of Jacobs. The only person I can see Saunders fighting is Alvarez.

Alvarez would be willing to come up in weight and Saunders has a both a height and reach advantage over Alvarez. Saunders would be facing a fighter who not only has never fought at 160, but someone who is considered boxing’s biggest attraction. Where ever this fight happens the arena it would be in would be filled to capacity and Saunders has the chance to make far money than he would make fighting someone like Jacobs or Golovkin. Perhaps the best part is that a win over Alvarez would definitely bring Saunders a lot of attention and command him to make decent money whether it is a rematch with Alvarez or facing another fighter from Mexico in Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, a rising star in the Mexican community. The argument can’t be made that Alvarez is a nobody, his only loss so far has been against retired pound for pound and future hall of famer Floyd Mayweather. If Saunders loses the fight he still would make a ton of money then could go feasting on the same type of opponents Golovkin does and could possibly bring welterweights up for an easy fight an easier payday.

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