By Allan McGoldrick (@AMCGUK)
WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ opponent for his next fight on October 29 could be either WBO ranked number 7 American Rob Brant (21-0, 14 KOs) who is ranked number 7 with the organisation or Russian Artur Akavov, ranked 11, (16-1, 7 KO’s) on the undercard of the Tyson Fury Vs. Wladimir Klitschko II card at the Manchester Arena.
The names may come as a surprise to some. However, Saunders was linked to Gabriel Rosado, Willie Monroe Jr. or Curtis Stevens on the undercard of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith card this Saturday night.
Billy Joe Saunders has not fought since winning the WBO title from Andy Lee back in December 2015 for a number of reasons. Apparently had he been on this Saturday’s undercard then the next step may have been the winner of Canelo Smith.
“We’ll make our decision on the opponent in the next day or so,” said Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren to ESPN.com. “Hopefully, we can do it before I fly out to the states for the Liam Smith fight this weekend.”
28 year old Akavov at 5’9”, isn’t much of a threat to beating Saunders. In 2012, Akavov suffered his only defeat in losing to Oleg Lissev by an eight round unanimous decision. Akavov was knocked down in the fourth. The Russian has won his last 11 fights since then, albeit against weak opposition exclusively.
The 25-year-old Rob Brant would be a tougher test for Saunders, as he’s got some punching power and decent hand speed going for him having stopped eight of his last nine opponents.
Recently Saunders has stated after his next bout then a fight against Gennady Golovkin can be made for all the Middleweight belts, although GGG it looks like will face mandatory challenger Daniel Jacobs first as this has recently been ordered by the WBA.by