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Hearn names 4 options for Saunders on Nov.28: Chudinov, Murray, Fielding & Ryder

Billy Joe Saunders

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn has revealed the four options for Billy Joe Saunders to defend his WBO super-middleweight title against on November 28th, and most of them are mediocre fights. The Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn says he’d instead a Brit get the battle against Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) because of the travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

The options for Billy Joe’s November 28th fight:

  • Rocky Fielding (28-2, 16 KO
  • Fedor Chudinov (23-2, 16 KOs)
  • Martin Murray (39-5-1, 17 KOs)
  • John Ryder (28-5, 16 KOs)

Hearn says that Ryder is unlikely for the Saunders fight because he will be fighting in a WBA 168-lb title eliminator against David Lemieux. If not for that, Ryder would be the ideal opponent for Saunders to fight, even though he’s already beaten him earlier in his career in 2013.

If Hearn is serious about wanting a Brit for Saunders’ next fight, then that rules out #11 WBO Chudinov, who has won his last nine contests since losing to George Groves by a sixth-round knockout in May 2017.

Former WBA ‘regular’ super-middleweight champion Fielding, 33, fought last November, stopping little known Abdallah Paziwapazi in the second round in Liverpool, England.

Fielding would be a weak choice for Saunders, but he would fit in nicely with the type of opposition that Billy Joe has been fighting in the last four years. Saunders has been dining on soft guys since his narrow win over Andy Lee in 2015. 

Billy Joe Saunders

Saunders with not much to pick from

“Dmitry Chudinov, Martin Murray, Rocky Fielding, John Ryder,” said Hearn to IFL TV in listing Saunder’s four possible opponents for November 28th. “Listen, if I could give it to Rocky, Murray, and these types of guys, Ryder would be a tough fight.

“People are always going to moan. I’d rather a Brit got the opportunity, especially during this time when travel restrictions are in place where we could make things a lot easier. You can get a Brit that will try and win a world title by beating Billy Joe Saunders,” said Hearn.

Well, with Hearn already ruling ou Ryder and Chudinov as an option for Saunders, that leaves only two pedestrian level fighters for him to choose from. It’s either going to be the 38-year-old former four-time world title challenger Martin Murray or Fielding. That’s not much of a choice.

Chudinov is from Russia, so he’s not going to get the fight with Billy Joe, given that Hearn said that he’s “rather a Brit got the opportunity” for a world title shot.

Having seen Murray challenge for titles four titles and come up empty each time, it would be a bad idea for Hearn to pick him. Murray is too long in the tooth to be challenging for a world title, and it would look not good on Hearn’s part if he were to pick him.

The last time I checked, Murray isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the sanctioning bodies at 168, and that could make it tough to get him sanctioned as an opponent for Billy Joe. It will be a bad look if the 2nd tier fighter Murray can leapfrog over the top 15 contenders in the WBO’s rankings to get an undeserved title shot against Saunders.

Murray lost to Hassan N’Dam in 2018, had a controversial decision over journeyman Gabriel Rosado in 2017, and failed against George Groves, Arthur Abraham, Sergio Martinez, and Gennady Golovkin.

It’s hard to see where Murray even qualifies for a world title shot. Even though this would be ANOTHER voluntary defense for Saunders, why would the WBO let him defend against a non-ranked fighter like Murray? It doesn’t make sense.

Saunders looks horrible in winning his last fight against little known fringe contender Marcelo Coceres last November in Los Angeles. Billy Joe was on his way to losing that fight when he scored a come from behind 11th round knockout over the Argentinian fighter Coceres. If not for that, Saunders probably would have lost.

Hearn wants Callum Smith vs. Avni Yildirim in December

“The thing with Callum, Billy, and Callum, they’re still in the mix for Canelo,” Hearn continued. “If Canelo turns around and sorts out his situation, he’s going to fight this year, and he wants to fight one of those two. So we’ll see, but we’re not relying on that anymore.

“We’re saying that we’re going to move forward and make our own decisions. With Callum, if he doesn’t get Canelo until crowds come back and there’s a pay-per-view slot for him to fight Billy Joe Saunders, he needs to have another fight.

“What we really want is to fight [Avni] Yildirim in a unification for the WBC and WBA. That’s essentially what we’ve been promised, and that’s what we’ve been writing to Mauricio Sulaiman about for the last couple of weeks.

“We said, ‘If Canelo Alvarez doesn’t fight Yildirim, we believe it should be Callum Smith against Yildirim for the title’ Callum Smith has been trying to win that WBC title for years. It means a lot to him, so hopefully, Mauricio agrees with us, and we can make that fight, subject to Canelo, not fighting [Yildirim], and I don’t believe he will.

“So in an ideal world, it’ll be Callum Smith fighting Yildrim, probably in December, and then Billy Joe Saunders defending on November 28th, and then it’ll make it a three-belt fight next [against Saunders].

Billy Joe Saunders

Hearn shouldn’t wait too long, hoping that the WBC will let Callum Smith face Avni Yildirim for the vacant WBC super-middleweight title. The WBC is still holding that spot for Canelo Alvarez if he gets his legal issues out of the way soon. It’ll be Canelo vs. Yildirim.

Smith should be fighting guys that the British boxing fans want to see him fight and not guys they’ve never heard of like Yildirim.  There’s no gain in Callum beating Yildirim for the WBC 168lb strap because he’s mainly known as the guy Chris Eubank Jr knocked out in three rounds in 2017.

If Callum wants to fight for the WBC title at super-middleweight, he should wait until former champion David Benavidez recaptures his belt. Callum wasn’t trying to fight Benavidez when he held the WBC strap, so it looks weak on his part to be wanting to fight Yildirim for the belt.

Saunders vs. Smith impossible in 2020

“We’re doing pay-per-view on October 31st,  pay-per-view on November 21st, pay-per-view on December 12th,” Hearn continued. “That’s a lot of pay-per-views, so there’s not enough room for another pay-per-view.

“Couple that in with no crowd, it’s impossible for that fight [Saunders vs. Smith]. But I want to get them active, so if Callum can’t fight Billy Joe, then he should fight Yildirim for the WBC [168-pound title],” said Hearn.

There’s no way that Saunders and Callum Smith can fight in 2020 because the fight needs a crowd, and there are no open slots to put it on pay-per-view. They’re going to have to wait until 2021 to make that fight happen, which is the smart choice.

If they can wait until a vaccine comes out next year, then there’s a good chance the Smith v. Saunders fight will take place in front of a crowd.

It’s too bad that Hearn isn’t looking to match Saunders against a good fighter on November 28th, because that would help build interest in a match between him and Smith in 2021.

There’s been long of a period between the last time that Saunders fought a quality opponent, and that’s arguably hurt his career. Saunders hasn’t fought anyone good since his close win over Andy Lee in 2015.

Saunders’ opposition in the last four years since 2016

  • Artur Akavov
  • Shefat Isufi
  • David Lemieux
  • Marcelo Coceres
  • Charles Adamu
  • Willie Monroe Jr

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