BILLY JOE SAUNDERS has challenged WBO super-middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez to face him or ditch his world title.
The Mexican hinted after a winning light-heavyweight debut at the weekend that his future belongs in the bigger 175lb division.
Saunders (27-0,13 KOs) faces German based Albanian Shefat Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium on Saturday May 18, live on BT Sport for the WBO interim super-middleweight crown.
Ramirez will be ordered to face the winner, unless he relinquishes the title he has held for three years.
If he does hand back his crown, the Saunders v Isufi fight is likely to be elevated to full world title status.
Former unbeaten WBO middleweight champion Saunders snapped: “I am raring to go for Ramirez, but if he doesn’t want to face me then give up the title and let me fight for the full championship.
“If it’s not going to happen against me after my ‘interim’ title fight then I would rather him say, now.
“He has said he can make 12 stone for Callum Smith so I don’t see the problem with myself. If he can make 12 stone for Callum, he can make 12 stone for me.
“I understand the rules of boxing. If you haven’t got the right style, opponents may not want to know you.
“His promoter Bob Arum has a good working relationship with Frank Warren and MTK, and he has most probably had a conversation with Ramirez.
“They know they can make the fight, but do they want it?
“Personally myself, I don’t think Ramirez will go ducking anybody, but unless he 100 per-cent knows he’s good at the weight I can’t see him taking the chance of fighting me.
“My way of winning fights is slick boxing so that takes a lot of steam out of the opponent especially if you’re weight-drained.”
Saunders cannot wait to appear at a stadium just 12 miles from his Hatfield home.
And although less than half of his wins have come inside the distance, Saunders reckons the open air crowd at the Lamex Stadium are in for a knockout night.
Saunders who is currently training in Manchester added: “I will carry more power up with me. We have been working on a few bits and bobs to improve my power.
“I’ve been sparring well, my timing is there, my speed is still there, but I have got to perform at the weight.”
THE EARLY SUPPORTING cast for Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO Interim world super middleweight title showdown with Shefat Isufi on Saturday May 18 can now be revealed, with a number of further title contests to be confirmed shortly.
Saunders takes on the WBO No.1 ranked super middleweight Isufi at the Lamex Stadium – home of Stevenage FC – and a number of the top young players in the boxing business will be taking to the pitch bidding to score with knockout performances on the night.
After missing out on featuring on the recent Leicester show through illness, the snappy featherweight Ryan ‘The Piranha’ Garner returns to the ring for his ninth professional fight. The exciting 21-year-old from Southampton has recorded six KOs from his eight fights so far and is looking to get himself in title contention this year.
Former world amateur champion Willy Hutchinson will have his eighth pro fight in what will be his fifth fight inside a year as the Scot gathers experience in the light heavyweight division, while cruiserweight James Branch jr from Hainault enters into his fifth pro fight seeking a first KO finish.
Unbeaten super lightweight Sanjeev Sahota returns to the ring at Stevenage looking to build on his 11 wins so far, with gym-mate Harley Benn having his seventh fight at super welterweight.
Long-standing Team GB servant Harvey Horn from Chigwell continues building towards domestic flyweight title action with his sixth pro fight.
In a further special attraction on the night, the multi-titled standout amateur star Lisa Whiteside is set to turn professional and will make her debut at the Lamex Stadium.
The decorated flyweight – a natural rival for Nicola Adams in the pro ranks – is a seven-time national champion and a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who also won silver at the 2014 world championships, having won bronze at the 2012 edition. She is also a European championship silver medallist from 2011.
Also featuring on the bill is Streatham super bantamweight Chris Bourke (2-0), Hitchin super middleweight Graham Tirrell (9-0), London light heavyweight Ollie Pattinson (9-0), Aylesbury light heavyweight Adi Burden (8-0) and Milton Keynes middleweight Conor Wright (7-0).
Tickets for Saunders v Isufi at Stevenage FC are now on sale via www.borotickets.co.uk and are priced as below:
£200 – Hospitality
£150 – Pitch
£100 – Pitch
£75 – Pitch
£50 – Stand
£40 – Stand