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Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ – weigh-in results

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

By Barry Holbrook: Billy Joe Saunders weighed in a thin-looking 167 1/4 pounds on Thursday for the title defense of his WBO super-middleweight belt against fringe contender Martin Murray on Friday night at the Wembley Arena in London, England.

Saunders looked badly weight-drained as if taking off the pounds had been living torture for him. Months ago, Saunders blew his chance for a big money fight against Canelo Alvarez when he said he needed more time to train.

Looking at how painfully thin Saunders appeared today, one can understand why chose not to take the Alvarez fight.

(Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)

Billy Joe’s back is against the wall

Murray (39-5-1, 17 KOs) came in at the same weight of 167 1/4 pounds and looked good as always. Murray is always in excellent condition, but he’s still come up short when facing A-level opposition.

The Liverpool native Murray has arguably been given the title shot against Saunders because he’s not viewed as a threat to beating him. If Murray was a threat, he’d be put on ignore by Billy Joe in the same way he’s done with the talented Demetrius Andrade, who be a nightmare for him.

Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) must not only win this fight against the 38-year-old Murray but look impressive, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn. He says that it would be “disastrous” for Billy Joe’s career.

Hearn has hopes that Saunders can have the type of performance he put in three years ago when he defeated David Lemieux by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in 2017.

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

That was easily the best effort of Saunder’s 11-year pro career, but it came at the expense of a weight-drained Lemieux, who had already been knocked out by Gennadiy Golovkin and Marco Antonio Rubio.

Hearn wants the Saunders that beat Lemieux

“The truth is Billy Joe’s performances haven’t been great, his last two fights,” said Eddie Hearn to IFL TV. “You saw with Daniel Jacobs against Gabe Rosado last week, a guy that almost couldn’t get himself up for a fight.

“You got to get yourself up for this fight, and you’ve got to put on a performance. He’s up for it Billy Joe, and Martin Murray, he’s never boxed for a world title in the UK before.

“He talks with so much passion about Oliver Harrison, and how much they put into this fight. It’s the last roll of the dice. Just speaking to the team, they believe they’re going to do it.

“I think they look at Billy Joe and the question marks with Billy Joe is how has his discipline been, is he in shape, and does he really want it anymore? You’ve got to ask him all those questions in the fight to see if Murray can do it.

“You’ve got to do it from the first round. You can’t start slow and he talks about the Arthur Abraham fight where he says, ‘I look back and think, those last few rounds, I should have done a little bit more.’

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

“He can’t have that regret waking up on Saturday morning. They believe they can win. I want a dominating performance from Billy Joe. And I remember watching the [David] Lemieux fight, thinking, ‘F*** me, this guy’s good.’

“I want people to say the same thing, because if they say that on Saturday morning, the demand for [Demetrius] Andrade, for [Daniel] Jacobs, for Canelo [Alvarez], Callum Smith, all these fights, come bigger, and that’s what we want,” Hearn said.

The problem that Saunders has is he never that good, to begin with, and Hearn doesn’t realize that yet. His victory over Lemieux came against a weight-drained fighter, who had already been exposed by Marco Antonio Rubio, Joachim Alcine, and GGG.

It’s fair to say that if Saunders had faced a good middleweight like Andrade, Jermall Charlo, Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez as far back as 2017, Hearn would already know that he’s not a top-level guy.

Saunders is more of a middle of the pack type of fighter, and he’s even less than that now that he’s moved up to 168.

The only reason Saunders holds the WBO super-middleweight title is due to the WBO sanctioning his fight against little known German fighter Isufu for their 168-lb title instead of insisting that Billy Joe fight someone good.

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

Saunders would have major problems against these 168-pounders:

  • Edger Berlanga
  • Canelo Alvarez
  • Caleb Plant
  • Callum Smith
  • David Benavidez
  • Caleb Truax
  • Daniel Jacobs
  • Juergen Braehmer
  • Gabe Rosado
  • Aidos Yerbossynuly
  • Zach Parker

Billy Joe may be shunned by broadcaster

“And I think the demand is there, but it’s not a fight with a lot of bad blood, a lot of hype, and a lot of animosities,” said Hearn about a potential match between Saunders and Callum Smith.

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

“It’s just two good guys that respect each other, who happen to be super middleweight champions.

“So, I think in boxing, that’s a big fight, but to the wider audience, maybe there’s not enough hype. But that fight would have taken place this year if there were crowds.

“It sells out the O2, it sells out the Manchester Arena. If it was a pay-per-view fight, we would have had the money to make that fight.

“I feel for Billy Joe because some people say, ‘When is Billy Joe going to have the big fights?’ He had the big fight, he agreed to fight Canelo Alvarez.

“He flew to Los Angeles for the press conference, and a day later, unfortunately, this thing called COVID hit, and the whole thing is off. It’s been a rough ride for him. W

“We’re really frustrated because I want to deliver these guys at the prime of their careers a chance to create a legacy, to try and be in those history-defining fights.

“That’s why I’m so pleased for Callum because he was so desperate right now for the big chance, and he got it [against Canelo Alvarez]. Now the next fight for Billy comes through Martin Murray.

He’s got to be able to do the same thing, but the pressure in this fight is if he [Billy Joe] doesn’t look good, there won’t be the demand for those kinds of fights.

“Suddenly, the broadcaster will say, No, no, no, forget about Billy Joe actually; what about someone else?’

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

“If you can come out and look sensational, and then all of a sudden the broadcaster will say, ‘Yeah, Billy Joe against him.‘ So this is a big moment for him [Saunders],” said Hearn.

Sky Sports has been incredibly patient with Saunders in showing his fights over the years, and you think they would have let Hearn know a long time ago that they’re not interested in showing his matches.

Hearn talks about Daniel Jacob’s poor performance against Gabe Rosado as one that was upsetting. But Saunders has those types of performances repeatedly in the last three years, and yet Hearn has stuck with him.

Hearn let Jacobs go after his contract expired following his dreadful performance against Rosado, but he’s held onto Saunders for some reason.

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If Saunders looked horrible against the 38-yer-old Murray on Friday, this might be a good time for Hearn to sever ties with Billy Joe and start over with some new blood.

Hearn: A poor performance by Saunders would be disastrous

“He’s had some big nights,” Hearn continued in talking about Saunder’s career. “The Andy Lee win was a massive night.

“You have to say that was the biggest night of his career, and probably the Lemieux fight.

“But defeat would be disastrous for Billy Joe, and a poor performance would be disastrous as well. You know, Billy Joe isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, is he?

Image: Billy Joe Saunders 167¼ vs. Martin Murray 167¼ - weigh-in results

“So people are waiting and dying to get on his back, and anything but a great performance, people will get on his back. I don’t think he’s one of those guys that feels pressure in that way.

“There are three fights on this card where there is as much pressure to look good as there is to win because if you don’t look good in this game and you don’t make people want to watch you, you’re in big trouble.

“Billy Joe wins on points and doesn’t look good. ‘Oh, he’s useless, that Billy Joe.’ So you’ve got to give people an excuse to say, ‘He’s top draw.’

“These next two years for Billy Joe, he’s got to make them count because how many people have you met where people have said, ‘Billy Joe is the one, pound-for-pound best fighter in Britain?’

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“Well, let’s see it. We saw it against Lemieux [in 2017], but now I want to see it at 168 pounds,” said Hearn in his rant about Billy Joe.

It’s a surprise that the broadcasters haven’t already told Hearn that they no longer want to televise Saunders’ fights because it’s ages since he looked good.

Also, Saunders’ habit of fighting mediocre opposition has prevented him to creating interest from boxing fans when he fights. This isn’t just something that Saunders started doing recently.

His career has been one based on taking the easy road and avoiding dangerous fights.

Saunders’ wins from 2016 to 2019:

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

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