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Saunders tries to attack Khurtsidze during press conference

Billy Joe Saunders

By Scott Gilfoid: A pudgy-looking WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders had to be restrained from attacking newly crowned interim WBO champion Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) last Saturday night at the post-fight press conference following the Georgian’s 5th round knockout victory over Saunders’ stable-mate Tommy Langford (18-1, 6 KOs) at the Leicester Arena, Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom.

It appeared that the 27-year-old Saunders didn’t like the news of him having to face a big puncher like Khurtsidze, because he was bad mouthing the mild-mannered Georgian fighter nonstop at the post-fight press conference. Khurtsidze earned the mandatory position to face Saunders by whipping Langford. It wasn’t easy. Khurtsidze had to chase Langford around the ring for the first 4 round before he finally was able to catch up to him in the 5th to knock him flat.

Langford was running and holding like man, and fighting in a purely negative manner off his back foot. That was obviously the game plan to try and beat Khurtsidze. Langford’s training team must have realized that they couldn’t beat him in a real fight, so they chose to use running and holding to try and spoil their way to victory.

What was shocking more than Saunders trying to get after Khurtsidze was how fat he’s gotten. Saunders looks like he’s really let his weight get out of hand. He looked at least 190. That’s a lot of weight that Saunders is going to need to carve off in less than 3 months to fight Khurtsidze on July 8 in London. Can Saunders carve off the blubber? Probably, but I think it’s going to weaken him and leave him an empty shell like he was in his last fight against Artur Akavov last December. Saunders was bellyaching after that fight about how he’d had to burn off a lot of weight to get down to the 160 pound limit for the fight. Now he’s about to make the same mistake, but it could be worse for him this time, because Khurtsidze is a more dangerous opponent than Akavov.

Here’s how the Saunders vs. Khurtsidze situation occurred last Saturday at the Khurtsidze-Langford post-fight press conference:

Saunders: “Tell me this. Is your man ready on July the 8th?”

Andre Rozier: “Of course, he’s ready right now. You want to fight him tonight?”

Saunders to Khurtsideze: “Do you want to fight tonight?”

Khurtsidze: “Very good. Let’s good, man. Let’s go.”

Saunders: “I’m ready to go as well, anytime. You want to go today? Would you want to go today?”

Rozier: “We’ll go. He’s the wrong one to do that with.”

Saunders: “Listen, you Americans come over here talking [expletive].”

Rozier: “We’ll settle this in the ring.”

Saunders: “Your Danny Devito here will get danced around and played with. Your man will get stopped in 6 rounds.”

Rozier: “Every one of my guys will whip your [expletive].”

Saunders: Who are you? You’re nobody. Danny Devito, you.”

Khurtsidze: “Show me. You show me.”

Saunders: “Hassan N’Dam, he beat you. Look at Mr. Tyson. We have a monkey here, a little monkey man; a little chimp here.”

Khurtsidze: “Show me.”

Saunders: “When he comes over here, I’ll show you. You’re full of [expletive]. You’re irrelevant. This man doesn’t speak English. He talks [expletive].”

Khurtsidze: Look, you’re fat heavyweight.”

Saunders: “Look at this man, big nose. I’m middleweight champion of the world. My son can beat you. You are a bum. You’re a beaten man. I’m going to send him back to Georgia. Georgia is full of [expletive]. England is full of fighters.”

Khurtsidze: “Look at me, man. I’m Brooklyn boy.”

Saunders: “I’ll see you in 8 weeks.”

It’s a good thing that Saunders was held back from getting at Khurtsidze, because he might have been hurt by the Georgian. Khurtidze is a bigger puncher than Saunders, and he’s capable of throwing with power in close. Saunders is really of shape right now. My guess is he’s at least 25 pounds overweight. He would have been in trouble potentially against an in shape and very sharp Khurtsidze if he had started throwing punches at him.

Some of the stuff that Saunders said about Khurtsidze wasn’t the nicest things you could say.

It’s not as if the guy was ripping into Saunders in telling him what he looks to him. Saunders was calling Khurtsidze names, and saying he looks like actor Danny Devito. I don’t know what got Saunders so worked up. Does he feel like Khurtsidze is too beneath him? I don’t remember Saunders going after some of his past opponents like Akavov in the same way he’s doing with Khurtsidze. For Saunders to be upset like he is, I tend to think that he’s showing signs of fear and worry about the fight.

Khurtsidze is clearly the best fighter that Saunders will have faced since his match against Chris Eubank Jr. I don’t know about you, but I smell fear from Saunders. I think he realizes now that his boxing career could go belly up if Khurtsidze whips him the way he did Langford and Antoine Douglas. Those guys couldn’t get away from Khurtsidze no matter how hard they tried.

Saunders points out that Khurtsidze was beaten by Hassan N’Dam in the past. That was 5 years ago when Khurtsidze was not as polished as he is now. He’s made a lot of improvements in his game since that defeat. I would definitely favor Khurtsidze over N’Dam right now if the two of them were to fight now.

Saunders needs to get his weight under control in between fights. I don’t know how long his career will be if he keeps ballooning up in weight between fights like he’s been doing lately.

“He got careless,” said Langford’s promoter Frank Warren in talking to IFL TV about Tommy’s loss to Khurtsidze. “The 1st round showed you that he is dangerous, Khurtsidze. Tommy got himself into a fight. When he was using his jab and boxing and not standing there and getting clipped, he was doing OK. He got a little bit careless and got caught. That was it. He’s a good banger. You could see from his boxing record. At least now the British fans know who he is,” said Warren in speaking about Khurtsidze. “He’s got to fight now Billy Joe Saunders. I don’t know what was said. I know Bill is a little frustrated anyway. The fight with Golovkin in June, we’re still working on it. In the meantime, Bill has got to stay busy, he’s got to fight. It will be a big fight. There’s no love lost there. I think Billy is looking to get that ring rust out and show everybody what he’s about. He’s still a name to be reckoned with. This guy is ranked #1 by the WBO. He’s coming over here to our backyard and won the interim title. Billy knows he’s got some fight on his hands,” said Warren.

“I don’t think he was going to fight in June anyway,” said Warren about Gennady Golovkin. “This fight with [Daniel] Jacobs, his last fight, I think his camp felt like he needed a rest after that. There’s talk of him fighting Canelo if Canelo beats Chavez on the 6th. I’m very skeptical that fight will ever happen. Bill will fight on the 8th of July in London at the Copper Box,” said Warren.

Billy Joe Saunders trashes Gennady Golovkin

WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) is still bellyaching about middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) not choosing to face him next like what had been talked about. Saunders needs to quit harping on the GGG fight, and focus instead on his #1 mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze, because that’s who he’ll be fighting next on July 8 in London. If Saunders gets whipped by Khurtsidze, then he can forget all about a fight with Golovkin.

I don’t think GGG will ever elect to fight him if that happens. Khurtsidze has more than enough power to knockout Saunders and ruin his dreams about fighting Triple G someday. Khurtsidze could snatch Saunders’ WBO title from him next July, sending him back down to the contender ranks. I don’t know that Saunders will ever be a world champion again once he loses his best. With the combination of his weight problems and talents like Jermall Charlo moving up to 160, I think Saunders’ 15 minutes of fame might be over with if he loses to Khurtsidze.

“Gennady Golovkin is a [expletive],” said Saunders to IFL TV. “He don’t want to fight nobody with a half decent record. He’s got a bit of an injury, I’m hearing. He signed to fight me. Were they worried? He’s getting a bit old. I don’t know. He’s got the Canelo fight. Is he waiting for that? Maybe so. We’ll see. I’ve been eating and drinking. If I’m out for another year, then so be it. I don’t know if it is financial reasons. I suppose it is. He’s 35 now. He can’t fight 3 to 4 times a year like he used to, because your body can’t do it. Not everybody is Bernard Hopkins. I think they realize that now. You can easily burn someone out. They can give their best only so much, especially when they’re coming on 35,” said Saunders about GGG.

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