Former two-division world champion Billy Joe Saunders says he’s starting to train for a comeback in September against what he hopes will be Liam Smith, followed by a “big fight” in December against a big name.
The 33-year-old Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) has rested since his eighth round injury stoppage loss to Canelo Alvarez in May 2021 in Arlington, Texas.
Saunders says he’s not interested in a rematch against Chris Eubank Jr, even though the match will likely make more money than a fight against 154-pounder ‘Beefy Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs). Billy Joe feels that Smith is a more worthy opponent, given his recent fourth round knockout win over Eubank Jr on January 21st.
Smith, 34, won’t be available until the second half of the year because he’s got a rematch against Eubank Jr in May or June, but that’ll work for Saunders’ first fight back in September. Liam Smith isn’t a super middleweight, but that’s the division where Saunders wants to fight him. It’s not exactly a fair fight, given Saunder’s size advantage over Smith.
Saunders says he’s going to be fighting at 168, which means he’s going to have a tough time if he faces the elite opposition because he’s had stamina problems during his career, and other than his match against Canelo, he’s not fought anyone good since moving up to super middleweight.
You can argue that most of Billy Joe’s best career wins have come against British-level fighters and not world class fighters.
For Saunders to come back and try mixing it with the good fighters at 168, it probably won’t go well for him. He’s not going to get another Canelo fight, so he can forget about that.
Canelo would be raked over the coals if he threw Saunders a bone by giving him a needless rematch that no one wants to see.
If Billy Joe wants to be seen as a serious world level fighter and most just another fighter trying to hustle fights for paydays at the expense of the gullible fans, he’ll need to take on these types of fighters at 168: David Benavidez, Caleb Plant, David Morrell, and Andrade. Those guys at least compete in the same weight division as Saunders.
“I’m going to drop some weight, look at a few opponents, and then we go,” said Billy Joe Saunders to iFL TV when asked when he’ll be making a comeback. “I’m looking at getting back in the ring and performing again.
“You know the answer is no because unless he comes back and stops Liam Smith in one round and looks unbelievably doing it, at the moment, Eubank is out of the question.
“I’d rather fight Liam Smith in my first fight back. Of course, he’s won. You got to give him credit. Sometimes it’s good to grab the moment. Thank God, I’m okay. It’s about for me the incentive to get in the ring to fight someone that is going to bring something to the table that I got to question myself that I got to be on my game.
“Liam Smith, I’ve got to be on my game. Eubank, do I got to be on my game? No, I don’t got to be on my game. Liam Smith is perfect for me. I want to fight a winner, not a loser. It’s a rebuilding game. You got to rebuild yourself. Me and Liam Smith is a great fight.
“There’s one fight that could happen, me and Andrade. That fight is there. There’s a lot of money at stake for both of us.
“Hopefully, September [tune-up] and then December, a big fight. I want to come back for a sensible fight. So I’m going to talk to some sensible people. If Eddie can make that fight with Liam Smith, fantastic. He’s got a good relationship with the Smiths. There’s plenty of big fights out there.
“It’s a good fight for the fans,” Saunders said about him against Liam Smith. “Liam is a world class fighter. Look at who he’s been beat by [Canelo Alvarez, Magomed Kurbanov, and Jaime Munguia].