According to a piece via BT Sports’ website (BT Sports in conjunction with BoxNation being the platform for the fight), WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders will make his next defence of the belt against fellow Brit Martin Murray, on April 14 at The O2 in London. To support this fight, Terry Flanagan will move up to super-lightweight and face Maurice Hooker for the WBO belt.
It is though, the BJS-Murray fight that will grab most of the attention. On paper, this fight is a decent one, a good one maybe (and with that supporting bout fans will at least get reasonable quality value for money) – but is it also a predictable fight? Saunders, who looked nothing short of brilliant in defusing dangerous puncher David Lemieux in December, has talked about getting the big fights – as in the really big fights, with guys named Triple-G and Canelo; and also Danny Jacobs.
Instead – and again, there is nothing overly wrong with Saunders going in with the well-travelled and experienced Murray – it is undeniably something of a disappointment that the peaking 28 year old with the 26-0(12) record has this fight and not one of the big ones he and his talents deserve. No disrespect to Murray, or to Saunders – who clearly WANTS the big challenges – but it’s incredibly hard to make a good case for Murray winning this one.
A far more foreseeable result is a wide, commanding and even dull decision win for the unbeaten southpaw. Against Lemieux, Saunders, as slick as he is, was always, potentially at least, one punch away from danger. Murray is a good, solid and tough and proud competitor, but he is no big puncher. Where will the edge of the seat drama or tension come from in this fight?
Murray, 35, is the older man, the slower man, and he has come up short in no less than four previous world title challenges; three at 160, one at 168 pounds. Since losing quite clearly to an aged Arthur Abraham in a WBO title challenge at super-middle, and then being beaten by George Groves, Murray has won three fights – his April 2017 decision win over Gabriel Rosado being by far the most notable of the three bouts.
Has Murray really earned a shot at Saunders, who is arguably the second or third proven best middleweight on the planet today? Murray, 36-4-1(17) is a great guy, a tough guy (stopped only by Golovkin, this very late on in the fight from February 2015) and he is as game as they come, but would you honestly place a dime on him beating Saunders in April?
The worst kind of world title fight is one where going in, you already know who the winner is. Is this the case here?