WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders has endured some disappointing and frustrating year here in 2016. Fans have lost count of the number of postponements the unbeaten southpaw has experienced since his last fight – an impressive decision win over Andy Lee last December – but the number has just risen by one; as it has been announced how this Saturday’s defence against Russian challenger Artur Akavov has been delayed yet again.
Through no fault of Saunders, the fight will now go ahead (we hope) on December 3rd – so just one week later. Apparently a delay in the medical paperwork on the part of Akavov and his team is the reason for the short delay. Hopefully, Saunders, 23-0(12) and in his prime, will take care of the largely unheralded Akavov, 16-1(7) and then get busy making up for lost time next year.
Saunders has had his name mentioned, multiple times, as a possible foe for middleweight king Gennady Golovkin, and promoter Frank Warren, speaking with ESPN.com before the news broke regarding the Akavov delay, said he has been in touch with both GGG and Canelo Alvarez. Warren said he’d love to get either star over to the UK to fight Saunders next year.
“We’re talking to Golovkin and we’re talking to Canelo and we would do our best to get them here, but that will be tough,” Warren told ESPN. “Bill wants the toughest fights. He’s looking for a big fight in the first quarter of next year. It would be a huge fight, the biggest of the year over here. Bill’s had injuries and pull-outs over the last year. And Chris Eubank Jr. mucked us about never signed a deal for a rematch, but hopefully Bill will get the rust off in this next one and then we can start looking forward to a really big one.”
Saunders, with his big wins over Eubank and Lee, was really making big strides, but has too much of the momentum now been lost with almost a full 12 months out of action? Can Saunders, at age 27, make up for lost time in a big way in 2017? In boxing, it can sometimes take just one fight and, boom, a fighter is right at the top. Obviously, if Saunders is able to get a big, big fight with either Canelo or GGG (who has of course boxed over in the UK before, and may well do so again after his still-to-be-finalised fight with Danny Jacobs is done) and win, any talk of lost momentum would instantly vanish.
But can these massive fights really be made? Does Saunders truly want to fight Golovkin and Alvarez? Hopefully, we will get a definite answer in the next six months or so.