North East light welterweight Bradley Saunders has broken into the top ten rankings of British light welterweights on boxing website Box Rec.
The Sedgefield star joins the division’s elite such as former World champion Amir Khan, British champion Darren Hamilton and 2013 prizefighter winner Chris Jenkins.
Now 8 (6) – 0, the former 2008 Beijing Olympian has many fans and experts tipping him to be British boxing’s next big star on the world stage after some hard-hitting performances.
Saunders seems able to bring it all in the ring and has been clinical in his contests so far, easily dismantling several men known previously for their durability such as tough veterans Ivan Godor and Michael Kelly.
In less than two years, hard hitting Saunders has escalated upwards through the ranks knocking out six of his eight opponents to date scoring a 75% KO ratio.
It was 27 year old Saunders’ previous fight that took him from 17th to 10th place following the one sided defeat over Hungarian Gyorgy Mizsei Jr. in Gateshead in November.
The boxer from Budapest, Mizsei Jr. 16 (10) – 7 (2) – 0 hit the canvas three times in the fourth round before referee Mark Curry called a halt to proceedings just one minute in. The Sedgefield boxer’s body punches were just too much for the Hungarian to take.
“He took some very big shots in the first few rounds so I thought I was in for a long night. He kept taking the punches through the second but I started getting to him in the third and in the fourth he’d had enough.”
The bout was the first time in almost ten years the 27-year-old had been able to box on home turf in what was a truly successful and special night for him and the eager home crowd.
“It was definitely special. I’ve boxed on some huge shows since turning pro all around the UK in front of ten or fifteen thousand fans but I tell you, at that show in the North East, there were 1500 people there in the crowd and there wasn’t one person who didn’t stand up and applaud me, not one person who didn’t clap and cheer at my victory and none who didn’t congratulate me afterwards. It was amazing.”
Saunders entered the professional ranks in February 2012 after a glittering amateur career. He boasts one of the best amateur career records ever with 168 wins out of 183 amateur fights, winning countless competitions including over a dozen national titles, bronze, silver and gold medals in World, Commonwealth Games and EU championships.
There is another light welterweight from up north that Bradley is being likened to as his career progresses – Manchester’s Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton. The former world champion fought eight times in his first year as a pro and finished on an almost identical record to Bradley, stopping five of those opponents.
Also an excellent body puncher like Hatton, could Saunders possibly scale the heights that Hatton did in his dazzling career? Similarly to Hatton, Saunders, too, has a huge and ever expanding following due to his boxing ability and exciting displays in the ring but furthermore for his likeability and modest personality.
“Listen, I wouldn’t be in this sport if I didn’t feel I could achieve those heights. Absolutely no disrespect to Ricky but he didn’t achieve half of what I did in the amateurs. I’d love to have the kind of following he did though. The pedigree is there for me I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Following the first two years of action which can only be described as explosive, Saunders has well and truly burst onto the professional scene blowing away a huge percentage of his decent opponents. The question now is what will 2014 hold in store for the ambitious and gifted fighter?
“Next year I hope to be kept as busy as these last four months” says the Sedgefield prospect. “People say all sorts about Frank Warren but he’s been brilliant with me and has kept me as busy as possible. If I could fight at least six times next year that would be fantastic, but I do want to fight for a title at home.”
Since the start of his pro career the same question regarding his weight class has consistently recurred and many times during interviews Saunders has had to reiterate that he is a light welterweight and completely comfortable and capable in that division for now.
“For my last fight I weighed in at 9st 13lbs the morning of the fight. I had breakfast before the weigh in so scaled 10st 1lbs. Light welterweight is my division and I’m going to be staying here for the time being. I may move up at some point as I’m big enough but I feel it’s in my best interests to remain here for now.”
Completely devoted to his craft, Saunders has humorously reminisced on Christmas meals of beans on toast to keep his weight in check for January fights. To concentrate solely on his job he has set up camp in Marbella in the famous MGM Gym run by former British and EBU middleweight champ Matthew Macklin. He intends to move his loved ones out to Spain in the near future as he prepares for the next stage in his promising career.
Saunders should be out next on March 8th, back in the North East on the undercard of British cruiserweight champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson’s next title fight.
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