Boxing


Billy Joe Saunders to fight on March 16th

BILLY JOE SAUNDERS: I'M REALLY IN LOVE WITH MY BOXING AT THE MINUTE

Hand damage, the bane of so many of the sportís hardest punchers, has stifled the progress of the exciting Hatfield southpaw Billy Joe Saunders in the paid ranks thus far.

But the 22 year old Beijing Olympian, now 12-0, tells boxing writer Glynn Evans how he intends the Southern Area middleweight crown he secured late last year to serve as a launch pad to more significant honours in 2012.

Saunders will feature on the undercard of George Grovesí British Super-Middleweight title defence against Kenny Anderson on Friday 16th March at the Wembley Arena, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.tv

This summer, the Olympics Games shall take place just a left hook away from your training base in Canning Town, East London. Do you have any regrets about not staying amateur and chasing Olympic gold in your home country?

When I sit back and think about it....not really. Who wouldnít want to be involved in a home Olympics but I made my decision to go pro and seriously believe Iíll be British middleweight champion by the time the Games come along in August.

Last November, you picked up your first pro title and went past six rounds for the first time when outpointing Gary Boulden over 10 for the Southern Area Belt. However, you seemed a little flat. How did you assess your performance?

I trained very, very hard but then, a week and a half before, I picked up a chest infection. Jimmy (Tibbs, his coach) was keen to pull me out but I was still managing the rounds no problem in sparring and the fight had been called off twice before from problems with venues or something so I went through with it.

Then, stupidly, I had seven protein shakes between the weigh-in and the fight, and got into the ring feeling podgy and sluggish.

Iíd say I performed six or seven out of 10. I was extremely fit but my timing vanished a bit and I was a little disappointed in myself with my skill level. Gary didnít stretch me skill wise and werenít that hard to hit but he took some very hard shots and did well to last the ten. Respect to him. He was a fit, tough fella.

If Iíd gone in the ring in that condition against one of the top three in this country thereís a chance Iíd have come unstuck so, if nothing else, that fight taught me the importance of being patient.

So what are you hoping to get out of your fight on Friday week?

Eight hard rounds. Whatever opponent they get for me, I just hope theyíre tough so I can try out some new things. You can only look good blasting out bums for so long. I want to look good showing my class against tough opposition.

After that, what are your hopes for 2012?

Nick Blackwell is defending his English title against Martin Concepcion and the winner is supposed to meet me. That would be a good fight, good title, but Iíd be very, very confident, whoever. Thereís a lot of good fighters about and Iím still only 22 but I want to be the best at my weight in this country and I know I can achieve it.

My fellow (2008 Beijing) Olympian James DeGale is already talking of world titles but I just focus on a British title and I think Iíll get it.



The British and Commonwealth belts, of course, are held by Martin Murray who just fought to a draw in a world title contest over in Germany. Do you seriously feel you could be competitive with him now?

I probably need a couple more fights to get experience but definitely this year, yeh. Iím a very quick learner and gain experience very quickly. On the GB Team in the amateurs, I only spent 15 months on the Development Squad before they promoted me up to the Podium Squad.

Talent wise, I could already cover it, no prob. Iíve tested the water sparring James DeGale, Darren Barker, Patrick Mendy and I know I belong at that level. They donít have their own way.

Itíll take a fight against someone like Martin Murray to bring out the best in me. Sure, if he vacated it would pave an easier route but I donít want an easier route. Thereís things I see in him that tell me heís there to be beat. Though we havenít got any world champions, middleweight is the hardest division in Britain at the minute. Barker, Macklin and Murray are all top fighters. Darrenís a mate but business is business. Give me 12 months, Iíll be ready for all three of Ďem.
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THE SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP OF GREAT BRITAIN

GEORGE GROVES v KENNY ANDERSON

FRIDAY 16th MARCH, 2011

WEMBLEY ARENA

***LIVE ON BOXNATION (SKY CH. 466/VIRGIN CH. 546)***

Article posted on 05.03.2012



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