On Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders defended his WBO middleweight belt against Willie Monroe Jr. winning a unanimous decision victory.
Other than a worrying fourth round, where a clash of heads left Billy Joe struggling to see, Saunders was able to control the pace of the fight and was the more active fighter.
Monroe Jr. looked to sit back and do his work on the counter but Saunders was too quick for the New Yorker. He fought intelligently and controlled the pace throughout.
So, what’s next for Billy Joe?
Saunders was eyeing up the winner of the Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fight for a unification bout. However, as this ended in a controversial draw, it is very likely Billy Joe will have to wait for a rematch to occur before taking on the winner.
This leaves him with the option of defending his title against the WBO mandatory challenger. This would be a fight which he would expect to win comfortably. In the meantime he could build the hype for a unification bout against the Canelo/ GGG winner.
Interestingly, only two men have held all four middleweight belts simultaneously, Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor. An opportunity to add to this list would generate worldwide interest and would be a huge opportunity, and pay-day, for Saunders.
However, Saunders made a very surprising post-fight call out. He is looking to defend his belt sooner rather than later and is eyeing up an all-British showdown against former light-welterweight champion, Amir Khan.
“I just want a good fight, a big fight, that’s what I’m in boxing for — to get fights which will get me up. He’s a very good name and I rate him. I’ve watched him for years and years. … I don’t call his name out being disrespectful to him. I call it because I think he’s a good fighter who I’ve watched for years. He and Kell [Brook] seem miles apart at the minute so if he’s willing to come up to middleweight, like he did for Canelo, he might think he’s got a chance of winning my world title.”
Khan has only fought once at middleweight where he lost by way of knock out to Canelo Alvarez in the sixth round. However, he did look sharp in the opening rounds and this fight may interest him.
Especially as Saunders would not have the punching power of a Canelo type fighter.
Billy Joe has shown that he is back to his best and is likely to keep improving under the tutelage of his new trainer, Dominic Ingle. Regardless of what is next, exciting times are ahead as opportunity knocks for the undefeated Brit.
Cathal Geeney, Pundit Arena