Billy Joe Saunders’ next defense on Apr.14 at O2 Arena
By Tim Royner: Billy Joe Saunders will be making his next defense on April 14 against an opponent still to be determined in a doubleheader with Terry Flanagan facing Maurice Hooker at the O2 Arena in London, England.
The card is still incomplete at this time, as there’s a possibility that former IBF super middleweight champion James ‘Chunky’ DeGale and former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury could both wind up on the card.
Saunders isn’t expected to take on a tough challenger for the April 14 fight, because he has a chance to face the winner of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin rematch. If that fight happens, it’s going to take place on May 5. Saunders has given Golovkin the offer of facing him next in April if the Canelo rematch falls through, but the chances of that happening are low.
Canelo’s promoters at Golden Boy Promotions want to make the rematch with Golovkin. Saunders will likely be defending his WBO title against one of the sanctioning bodies contenders from No.10 to 15. That would be one of the following fighters that could get the lucky draw to face the 28-year-old Saunders on April 14:
• Martin Murray
• Conrad Cummings
• Rafael Bejaran
• Jason Quigley
Murray and Quigley are both from the UK, which would give them a decent chance of being picked by Saunders’ promoter for the fight. However, the 26-year-old Quigley (13-0, 10 KOs) might be a little on the tough side to be selected for Saunders to be making a voluntary defense. This would be a little dangerous for Saunders. Quigley can punch, and he might make it a challenging fight for Saunders.
The 35-year-old former 4 time world title challenger Martin Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs) could get the fight based off his name and prior experience in fighting for world titles. Murray has come up empty 4 times in fighting for world titles. Murray has been very lucky to have been given 4 world title shots, as he’s not really done a lot to earn those fights. Murray has recent losses to Arthur Abraham and George Groves. Murray has won his last 3 fights against Nuhu Lawal, Gabriel Rosado and Arman Torosyan. The Rosado fight was a controversial 12 round majority decision win for Murray last April in Liverpool, England.
Former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and his promoter Eddie Hearn put in a half-hearted effort to get the Saunders fight, but they were unable to get the fight.
Saunders is coming off of a master-class performance in beating WBO mandatory challenger David Lemieux by a 12 round unanimous decision last month on December 16 at the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada. Saunders went into the lion’s den in Canada and beat the 28-year-old Lemieux in front of his own boxing fans.
Former lightweight champion Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs) and #2 WBO Hooker (20-0-3, 16 KOs) will be contesting for the vacant World Boxing Organization light welterweight title. It’s not a fight that will help sell a lot of tickets for the April 14 card at the O2 Arena. If the card is going to sellout, it’s going to be due to Saunders along with DeGale and Fury. Those are the big 3 that will help make this card a success.