By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
Billy Joe Saunders has been told that he will fight either Gennady Golovkin or Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez if he successfully defends his WBO middleweight title against Artur Akavov on October 22.
Saunders (23-0-KO12) claimed the title with a majority decision win over Andy Lee in December of last year, but due to a hand injury is only now set to make his first defence against Russian Akavov (16-1-KO7).
The champion is already targeting a return to action in December if he comes past Akavov, and will then either pursue a unification bout with IBF, WBA and WBC holder Golovkin (36-0-KO33), or current boxing cash-cow Alvarez (48-1-1-KO34), the WBO light-middleweight champion.
Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren confirmed talks had already taken place for those fights, saying: “Yes, provided he wins he will fight one of those guys, 100%.
“If he loses then he won’t. He’s got nothing to bring to the table; he’s got to bring the belt. He needs to just focus on this fight, looking ahead is not where he needs to be. He needs to get the ring rust out of his system. After that we can get things moving.”
Golovkin would appear the most likely candidate, with the Kazakh having repeatedly spoken of his desire to unify the middleweight division and naming Saunders specifically when asked who he wanted to face next after beating Kell Brook last month.
Saunders, also, appears to favour a clash with GGG, saying: “I want to see how good I am. In my own head I know I’ll beat him. I’m not one to walk into that arena and think ‘it’s Golovkin here, it’s going to be a good pay day but I’m going to get beat up.’
“No way, because I wouldn’t take that fight. I’ve earned what I set out to earn, it’s not about that anymore. It’s to see how good I am.”
Saunders would enter any potential bout with Golovkin or Alvarez as a heavy underdog, but would be expected to offer either man problems through his movement and technical skills. Golovkin did not look his scintillating best against Brook, while Alvarez would finally be coming up to the full middleweight limit of 160 pounds.
It’s easy to be sceptical over such claims from Team Saunders as we’ve heard these noises before, but hopefully Warren’s statements mean that we can look forward to Golovkin meeting an elite middleweight at long last.by