BILLY JOE SAUNDERS believes stablemate Lerrone Richards is one of British boxing’s best kept secrets.
Richards (11-0, 3KOs) is back after missing a year through injury when he challenges Tommy Langford (21-3, 6KOs) for the vacant Commonwealth super-middleweight and WBO International titles at the SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday April 27, live on BT Sport.
It is a massive step up for the New Malden man when he faces the former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion who has competed at a far higher level.
Saunders who meets German Shefat Isufi for the WBO interim super-middleweight championship at Stevenage FC on Saturday May 18, has been tested by Richards in the gym.
Former WBO middleweight champion Saunders recalled: “I brought Lerrone out for sparring for the Andy Lee fight.
“He is a brilliant fighter, but not just that he has a lovely, lovely family and is a lovely man.”
Richards sparring exploits are common knowledge. Saunders has been a fan since their 2015 spar in Marbella and it’s believed Richards gave Chris Eubank Jr more than enough trouble in gym sessions.
“Lerrone is going to go far in the sport and for me there is one winner in that fight at Wembley,” predicted Saunders.
“Tommy is a top fella, tries his heart out and Lerrone has to be on it because it is a big step up from where he has been boxing, but I believe Lerrone can come through it.
“When it comes to talent Lerrone is up there with the top five in Britain, 100 per-cent. He is very, very talented.”
Lerrone’s trainer Alan Smith is adamant that British boxing will see that Richards isn’t just King of the sparring ring, and the fighter is determined to shed that unwanted tag at Wembley.
Richards, 26, said: “This is a great opportunity and I cannot wait to showcase my skills. I box smart, I fight smart, bring science and I will show on the night what I am all about.
“This isn’t an easy fight at all. Tommy is a very good boxer and intelligent. It will be as easy as I want to make it.
“People underestimate my power and if I rock Tommy Langford I will stop him.”
Daniel Dubois focused on Richard Lartey, then Joe Joyce
DANIEL DUBOIS INSISTS he has got a job to do first before turning his attention towards a British title showdown against Joe Joyce.
The British Boxing Board of Control last week mandated Dubois (10-0) and the 2016 Olympic silver medallist Joyce (8-0) to fight for the coveted British heavyweight championship and notified both parties that negotiations should commence for the staging of the blockbuster battle.
Contrary to mounting social media skepticism, Dubois’ promoter Frank Warren has publicly stated that the 21-year-old will not be withdrawn from the proposed fight and Dubois intends to add the Lonsdale belt to the WBC world Youth, Southern Area, English and WBO European titles he has already fought for and won.
The Hall of Fame promoter did add, however, that Dubois has serious business to attend to first in the shape of the dangerous Ghanaian Richard Lartey, with the pair set to headline at the SSE Arena, Wembley on April 27.
The 6ft 5″ Lartey represents a significant risk to the unbeaten rise of the young Londoner, with the WBO African champion holding a record of 14-1, with the single blemish coming about due to injury. Eleven of his wins have come via knockout.
The name of Joyce is likely to feature prominently in the build-up to Dubois’ first appearance at the venue formerly known as Wembley Arena, but the towering prospect from the Peacock Gym insists he will not be distracted by what comes next.
“I am happy the fight with Joyce has been put forward and it is one that excites me,” said Dubois, who has nine stoppages to his name. “But that is for later because I have got a proper big fight lined up for April 27 and all of my energy and attention has to be channeled towards that.
“Richard Lartey is coming to win and these are the sort of fights I want to be involved in. It is a huge opportunity for me to headline a show at a famous arena live on BT Sport and it is not one I can afford to look beyond. My team wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else anyway.
“Once April 27 is done with, I can then start thinking about a fight that I am sure everyone will want to see where I can show that I am on my way to the top with a big knockout of a British rival who I know well from the amateur scene.”
Daniel Dubois v Richard Lartey tops the bill at the SSE Arena, Wembley on April 27 on a card that also includes the Commonwealth super middleweight title fight between Lerrone Richards and Tommy Langford, as well as the Southern Area super middleweight title clash between Zak Chelli and Jimmy Smith. WBO European super flyweight champion Sunny Edwards and WBO European super featherweight champion Archie Sharp also feature.
Rangy Super Welterweight talent Hamzah Sheeraz will be back out after his impressive win over Rod Douglas Jnr. Hard hitting middleweight and Peacock gym product Denzel Bentley (9-0) and Belfast amateur middleweight star Caoimhin Agyarko will also return to action. There are Queensberry debuts for unbeaten welterweight Chris Kongo (10-0) and Sheffield middleweight Shakiel Thompson (2-0) – with Thompson being tipped by sparring partner Billy Joe Saunders as a star for the future. Ilford Super Middleweight Umar Sadiq (4-1) also returns as he looks to rebuild after his first career loss. Tunde Ajayi trained lightweight Bilal Ali (1-0) will have his second professional fight after making a successful start to his pro career, with Hoddesdon super lightweight Alfie Price set for his fifth.
Tickets will be priced as £40, £50, £75, £100 and £150 and are now ON SALE to purchase via Eventim, Ticketmaster, the SSE Arena website and AXS.com.