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Billy Joe Saunders targeting Caleb Truax fight

Billy Joe Saunders James DeGale

By Scott Gilfoid: Billy Joe Saunders says he wants to move up to super middleweight and take on newly crowned IBF 168 lb. champion Caleb Truax for his title that he won recently in beating James DeGale by a 12 round majority decision on December 9. Saunders says that if the WBO will freeze his middleweight title while he moves up to 168, he’d like to fight Truax for his IBF title at super middleweight. DeGale would then vacate the IBF 168 lb. title immediately if he beats Truax.

Saunders beat David Lemieux quite easily last Saturday night to keep in line to face the winner of the May 5th rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez. Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) doesn’t want to sit and wait needlessly without fighting to get the Canelo-Golovkin. Saunders wants to move up to super middleweight to take on Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) for his IBF belt, if he’s not stripped of his WBO middleweight title after moving up in weight.

There’s a very good chance the World Boxing Organization would strip Saunders if he moved up to 168 to challenge Truax for his IBF belt. Even if the WBO doesn’t strip Saunders for taking the fight with Truax, they might still strip him if he loses the fight. That’s a tough fight for Saunders, because Truax is a bigger puncher than the 5’9 1/2” Lemieux, and he’s a lot taller at 6-feet. Instead of Saunders having a nearly 2-inch height advantage like he did against Lemieux, he’d be giving away an inch in height to Truax. This could end badly for Saunders. If he loses to Truax, then he can probably forget all about fighting the winner of the Canelo-Golovkin fight. Those guys won’t want to fight Saunders with him coming off of a loss to Truax. Even if the WBO doesn’t strip Saunders of his belt, Canelo and Golovkin probably won’t want to fight him because he’ll be a tainted fighter.

“I’ve got the option to move up in weight and there are some big fights up there at 12st,” said Saunders. “I would love to fight Truax who beat DeGale, I’d be happy to take him in April if he was willing to come over. As long as I could keep my middleweight belt, I’d move up and win that IBF belt at super-middleweight too,” said Saunders.

Truax is managed by Al Haymon. I don’t think he’s going to want to match Truax against a defensive fighter like Saunders. I don’t see that happening. Truax is good at cutting off the ring on his opponents, but it would be terrible fight for him to have to chase Saunders around the ring for 12 rounds. As the champion, Truax needs to face guys that are trying to legitimately win the fight by mixing it up, rather than running and hoping to spoil their way to a victory.

A rematch between Truax and DeGale is the smart move for him. Truax broke DeGale down with his heavy hands, hurting him with uppercuts to the head and powerful hooks that rearranged his features. After the fight, DeGale’s nose looked badly swollen, his face reddened and lumped up from the heavy blows that he’d absorbed from Truax. DeGale is the one that should be trying to fight Truax next, not Saunders. That’s a terrible fight. Truax vs. Saunders would be a similar fight to Truax’s win over Donovan George in my estimation. Truax wore George down with heavy shots, and took him out in the 6th. George is a bigger puncher than Saunders, but he was no match for Truax.

“To go there and take it off James DeGale, fair play to Truax. It shows that in boxing anything can happen,” said Saunders. “When you’re fighting someone who is coming for that title, who is coming from America where he lives in a shed somewhere, that title is his big ticket.”

The best move for Saunders is to stay at 160, defend his WBO title, and then wait on the winner of the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. Saunders doesn’t need to take a risky fight against Truax and potentially lose his only bargaining chip, the WBO middleweight title, if the sanctioning body strips him of the belt.

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DeGale didn’t give Truax credit for losing to him on December 9. Instead of giving Truax his proper credit, DeGale said his surgically repaired shoulder was acting up on him. It was a weak excuse. DeGale had plenty of time to rehab his shoulder. You’re not supposed to be fighting if your shoulder isn’t 100 percent. I’m sure that if DeGale’s shoulder wasn’t where it needed to be for the fight, he wouldn’t have agreed to it in the first place.

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