County Durham boxing star Bradley Saunders is preparing to continue his unbeaten run with a fifth straight win after turning professional last February.
The 26 year old light welterweight from Sedgefield is due to fight next month, November 30th in Manchester MEN Arena on what will be his fifth outing in his first year in the professional ranks.
Saunders blasted his way through seasoned veteran Ivan Godor in the Scotland V England auld rivalry last month to determine Britain’s best lightweight resulting in challenger Kevin Mitchell being disposed of by WBO Champion Ricky Burns within four exciting rounds of top class boxing.
Bradley took his chances in front of Glasgow’s SECC capacity crowd to knock down the durable Slovakian three times before the referee called an end to the contest. This was the seasoned 32 year old’s first stoppage at the hands of Saunders for over three and a half years when he was knocked out by unbeaten prospect Krzysztof Szot in Poland in April 2009.
The talented north east fighter will be performing in his first eight rounder which can be considered as risky so early on in his career. Speaking from the gym in his first day back training, Saunders claimed “It’s unheard of someone fighting an eight rounder in their fifth fight. I’ll take it as it comes but if the shots are there I will take him out. Whatever happens I’ll be more than fit for the full eight rounds.”
Bizarrely sharing the star studded line up of boxing talent will be cricket star and television celebrity Andrew Flintoff. The former England all rounder and Ashes winner will be making his professional boxing debut against, as yet, unnamed opponent. Trained by the great Barry McGuigan and son Shane, the 34 year old is in peak physical condition and raring to go. The former world champion has been impressed with his boxing skills and fitness.
Flintoff’s preparations for the fight are to be documented in a two-part program called ‘The Gloves Are Off …’ to be showed on Sky 1 and the bout at will also be shown on boxing channel BoxNation.
Saunders commented “Flintoff will do well but it’s not an easy sport so he will get well looked after. You can’t just come into it and expect to do things. I wish him all the best.”
Flintoff would not be the first professional sportsman to undertake a boxing career with no experience. Former Sheffield United footballer Curtis Woodhouse made his boxing debut in 2002 and has recently been crowned light welterweight English Champion, a title that Saunder’s will be eyeing surreptitiously.
Headlining the show will be equally matched lightweights Liam Walsh and Paul Truscott. Walsh is one of three boxing brothers that all turned professional together and caused a media frenzy when they fought their debuts live on ITV back in 2008. Liam is enjoying the most success, extending his unbeaten run to 13 fights (10 KO’s) following victory against Domenico Urbano to attain the vacant WBO European lightweight title last July.
Saunders was placed on the very same show last July on the controversial Have V Chisora card in London and was forced to go the distance against Kevin McCauley, showcasing his ring craft over the full six rounds to the 30,000 audience of boxing fans.
This caused upset with BBBoC who threatened to punish anyone involved in the show.
“I have got absolutely nothing to do with David Haye or Dereck Chisora, so why should I not be allowed to fight on a show that I’ve been asked to fight on? As well as the 30,000 or more boxing fans that will be inside Upton Park on Saturday night, nearly one million people have subscribed to watch on TV. That’s a great chance for me to show everyone what I am all about. It’s only my third fight and I want to move on up and show people what I can do.”
So far he has been kept very busy in his debut year and is pleased to be moving on quickly. He has successfully stopped the heavily experienced journeyman, Jason Nesbitt inside 3 rounds last February and the resilient Danny Dontchev after just the first round last April.
Such was his willingness to enter the ring regularly; the light welterweight perilously stepped up to middleweight to face a bigger stature in Kevin McCauley.
“I’m supposed to be 10st 4lbs and I was 10st 9lbs for that fight and he had weighed in at around 11st 5lbs. It was not ideal because I’m a light welterweight. I don’t want to be going in with a middleweight; I want to be showing all the light welterweights out there what I can do to them. But I just like to box. It was a risk, going in with a middleweight, because it could have damage my record. I just want to box as often as I can to show more and more people what I’m capable of.”
If Saunders can triumph in November then he will be eyeing a fight just weeks later in December. “I want one more fight this year in December making it six in my first year. Then next year, more of the same, whatever they ask of me.”
Eager to replicate his amateur career where he was one of the most seasoned, decorated boxers ever, Saunders is eyeing up his first silverware in the pro ranks already.
“Soon as they think I’m ready, I’m in it to go to the top and there’s no other reason. So any other light welters I have to box, I will!”
With around one hundred England and Great Britain appearances on his CV, Bradley Saunders was the most experienced amateur international of this millennium. The hard hitting former world championship medallist and 2008 Beijing Olympian is expecting that practice to propel him to the major professional titles as soon as possible.
Even though considered by some as a fledgling in the pros, Saunders’ experience and education has been intense during his first year. He helped Scottish favourite Ricky Burns prepare for his world title defence and has also been sparring with former WBU World Champion Derry Mathews.
“It’s been really good sparring with a two weight world champion in Burns. Ricky’s a gritty lad who’s really adaptable; can box back foot or dig in and have a fight. We both really go for it. It’s far more a fight than a technical spar so it’s been tremendous for me.”
With devastating punching power, experience of almost 200 fights against the world’s best amateurs and a cracking start to a pro career, Bradley Saunders will soon be rocketing his way up through the rankings to title shots in no time at all.
The rising star is on the lookout for a new sponsor so if you would like to know more about sponsorship opportunities then please contact Sports Marketing Manager Tim Rickson at [email protected]
You can follow the rising star on Twitter @BRADSAUNDERS_ and follow his success on official website www.bradleysaunders.com or on Facebook. For tickets to the show in Manchester please call 07414 112 022