Billy Joe Saunders wants Callum Smith unification fight
By Charles Bruns: Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13 KOs) won the vacant WBO super middleweight title on Saturday night in beating Shefat Isufi (27-4-2, 20 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision, and now he’s targeting WBA Super World champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) for a unification fight. Saunders, 29, says he’s hoping that the fight with Smith can be put together. He feels that it’s a fight that the boxing fans want to see.
Smith, 28, is fighting next month against possibly Hassan N’Dam on June 1 on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Smith vs. N’Dam fight still isn’t a done deal, but it’s expected to be finalized soon.
“I can be out on July 13th,” Saunders said about his next fight. “I wasn’t really pushed. It was like sparring practice for me. I really hope we can make the Callum Smith fight. It would be a brilliant fight for the fans. He’s probably got other plans. He’s fighting in June. I love that fight. I think it’s a big fight. I think Smith has got the [courage] to fight.”
It’s not exactly a good thing that Saunders is saying that Isufi was little more than a sparring match for him tonight. That makes the WBO look even worse than they already did for ranking Isufi at #1 with their organization.
Smith won’t be available for a fight with Saunders until later this year. However, if Saul Canelo Alvarez doesn’t face Gennady Golovkin in September, there’ a chance he may pick Callum as an opponent. If not September, there’ a chance that Smith could get selected by Canelo to fight in December.
Saunders gave the inept Isufi, 29, a real boxing lesson in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night to claim the vacant WBO super middleweight title at Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. The judges scored it as one-sided in for Saunders in scoring it 120-108, 117-111, and 118-110.
“I haven’t been in a meaningful fight in 14 months now,” Saunders said after his fight against Isufi on Saturday night. “He’s #1 with the WBO for a reason, so he’s honestly good.”
Saunders is going a little overboard in trying to build up Isufi as a meaningful opponent. The World Boxing Organization made a strange move in ranking Isufi at #1, given how pedestrian his resume is as a pro. Isufi had never fought anyone good before tonight. For the WBO to have Isufi ranked #1, it’s hard to understand.
“Canelo and Golovkin, they didn’t want that [spoiling] style,” Saunders said. “They do no want that style 100 percent, both of them. They do not want that style. They don’t like that. I’m sorry. They didn’t want it. I signed the contract twice for the fight,” Saunders said.
Saunders made huge mistake in not fighting Demetrius Andrade
Saunders sounds disingenuous in complaining about Gennady Golovkin and Canelo not wanting to fight him. Saunders is viewed as having ducked the Demetrius Andrade fight by moving up to super middleweight rather than staying at 160 to fight him. Andrade’s promoter Eddie Hearn wanted to still make the fight between him and Saunders, despite the fact that Billy Joe tested positive for a banned substance.
Hearn wanted to have Andrade defend the WBO title against Saunders in his first defense after winning the strap last October. Saunders could have waited around and fought Andrade to try and win back his 160-pound title. Had Saunders beaten Andrade, it would have opened the door for him to fight Canelo or Golovkin, whichever ended up with the IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titles. They could have fought Saunders for the WBO title, as it would be the last piece in the puzzle.
Instead of fighting Andrade to get the Canelo or GGG fight, he moved up to super middleweight to fight an obscure guy in Isufi for the vacant WBO 168-lb title. It was a weak move on Saunders’ part. Either Saunders did that move intentionally to avoid Andrade or he didn’t realize how important the WBO middleweight would be to him if he recaptured it. A lot of boxing fan just believe that Saunders didn’t have the self confidence to fight Andrade to try and win back his old WBO belt. If Saunders didn’t believe that he could beat Andrade, then it makes perfect sense that he chose to move up to super middleweight to fight the little known fighter Isufi for the vacant WBO belt. Was Saunders that thick not to understand the opportunity he was throwing away by not facing Andrade for his old title?