Saunders ready for the worlds best?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“I was f*****g s**t. I can forget GGG based on that!”

The line positioned above is a quote from English middleweight WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, and it is one that acts as an accurate chronicle of the 12 rounds he had fought prior to giving such a statement. On Saturday December 3rd Saunders locked horns with Artur Akavov, a fighter who isn’t necessarily a big name in the sport, in order to defend his middleweight title.

With Saunders returning from a one year layoff, a bout against the relatively unknown Russian fighter was seen as more of an opportunity to shake off ring rust as opposed to a challenging match-up. However, Akavov provided a performance that was unforeseen by most of Boxing’s analysts and certainly Billy Joe Saunders. Ultimately Saunders defended his belt via unanimous decision, but the showing wasn’t as good as he’d have hoped and this led to vexation on Saunders’ behalf.

Of course it is the nature of the beast for a Boxer to be frustrated at a bad performance of their own and the self criticism after a poor showing is a shared characteristic among all athletes.

However Saunders’ frustration was heightened due to what he had on the line. When i say this i am not insinuating that his reputation as one of the top fighters in the 160 pound division was at risk, or his belt for that matter, as the most significant item on the line was the opportunity to take on Boxing’s elite fighters. In recent months Saunders has called out some of the best fighters in the middleweight division, one of the biggest ones being undefeated knockout specialist Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. With Saunders searching for a career defining fight and Gennady Golovkin and looking for credible names to enhance his resume it would only make sense for the two fighters to collide.

It seemed like the two were almost destined to meet as much media speculation was set around the two 160 pounders. These newspaper murmurings soon gained some momentum when Billy Joe’s promoter Frank Warren stated that his client would definitely get a shot at Canelo  or GGG as long as he defeated Akavov, and with everything in place it seemed that Saunders was only one step away from simultaneously securing the biggest fight and biggest payday of his career. However, even though he completed the task at hand the unconvincing manner in which he did so raised the question; Is he ready to take on the world’s elite?

It’s no secret that  the fight against Akavov was a tougher encounter than Saunders (or anyone) thought it would be. The ‘Wolverine’ turned up on the night and managed to take a good few rounds from the defending champion, and if Billy Joe fought the way he did on Saturday against a world class opponent he would have lost his belt.

One factor that may be to blame for Saunders’ below par performance may be the fact that before the Akavov fight, he hadn’t gone in the ring in for almost a year, as the last time he fought was December 2015 against Andy Lee. The Englishman did plan on maintaining activity after his majority decision triumph over Lee but injuries kept him out of fighting as much as he would have liked.

Boxing is a sport where you are judged mostly on what you did most recently, and given Saunders’ recent display it is almost certain that his bid for a fight with GGG or Canelo took a hit. When faced with who Golovkin should fight next I’m sure Golovkin’s management team would also look elsewhere after this fight, as there are other possibilities to explore such as Danny Jacobs or Chris Eubank jr.  The path of fighting Canelo Alvarez may also have been blocked off as the Mexicans promoter Oscar De La Hoya stated that after his performance against Akavov the offer for Saunders to fight Canelo ‘halved’, and also Canelo’s team would most likely want to arrange a fight between a more well known pay per view attraction.

So the question that this article posed still remains unanswered: Is Billy Joe Saunders ready for the world elite? Well, in my honest opinion yes, he is ready. He is a fighter with an extensive amateur background who has competed in the commonwealth games (where he was a champion) and the olympic games. At a professional level he has notched up 24 wins with 0 losses, including standout triumphs over the likes of Chris Eubank JR and Andy Lee, and not to mention he holds a world title belt in his respected weight class.

Saunders is one of the top 160 pound fighters. Howbeit, even though he is ready for a fight with the elite 160 pounders doesn’t that he should or is guaranteed to get a fight with the upper echelons of the boxing world. As I mentioned before, Boxing is a sport where you are judged on your most recent performance and based off of his fight against Akavov Saunders isn’t ready to fight the best. Regardless of whether or not he is ready to go toe to toe with the best,  the fact is that after such a display it isn’t likely that he has produced a good enough bid to get a bout against the sports elite.

Career transitioning opportunities only come to those who earn them, and even though the future may say otherwise, based off of his display against Akavov it does not appear he that he is ready for the Golovkin’s and Canelo’s of the world.

Brendan Earley
Avid fan of Boxing, aspiring Journalist.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sports as We Know It May Never Look the Same Again

This lockdown has given us so many of the bad things we never really thought we'd see: widespread job loss, rampant hospitalization and deaths, and the major, sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb kind of problems in society. But, if there's something that everyone felt, it's the loss of sports. Many people said that sports is only important to sports fans, but it's becoming more evident that the purpose of sports isn't just exclusively athletic. Now, it seems like...

MLB: End Of Season Award Show 2 Cy Youngs, 2 Rookie of the Years and More!

The 2020 MLB regular season has come to an end, and with it comes playoff brackets, predictions, debates and discussions. However, we are going to save playoff predictions for another article. In this article we are going to talk about End of Season awards. Wo deserves the Cy Young awards?, Rookie of the Year? Most Valuable Player??? All of these questions and more will be answered. These are my opinions after watching the games,...

When It Comes To Israel Adesanya – Believe The Hype

If you've ever had the privilege of watching Israel Adesanya fight, you know that he is the perfect example of handcrafted precision. In his most recent fight, so many people felt this would be the fight that would finally DE-thrown the champ.  They felt Paulo Costa had the advantage because of his size, his strength and his overall power. If you've seen Costa, you know he's like a modern day Hercules. Costa's punches are explosive and...

2020 NBA Finals: A Champion Will Be Crowned

The stage is set. After a few short months that involved an eight game restart season and a very unique postseason,  the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat will face each other for the first time in the NBA Finals. There are a lot of storylines that will unfold during the duration of the Finals, but the main storyline will have to be LeBron James facing the team that helped him win two championships....

Memorable Test Match Innings: Kevin Pietersen at the Oval 15 years on

“I saw this innings via a social distancing gap between myself and the television. To truly have the visceral thrill of Pietersen’s 158, you needed to be at The Oval on 12 September 2005.” “Just because I've got a stupid haircut or diamond earrings, it's not going to make me cover drive a ball any differently.” Kevin Pietersen arrived on the international scene in full technicolour. In early 2005, KP entered the lion’s den of his...

Tewatia plays blinder as Rajasthan chase historic total to beat KXIP

Rahul Tewatia hit 5 sixes in an over as Rajasthan Royals chased down the highest score in Indian Premier League history to beat Kings XI Punjab by four wickets on Sunday. Tewatia hit Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in the 18th over and added another six of the next ball he faced as Rajasthan chased down 224. Jofra Archer hit 13 from 3 balls to see the side home. Rajasthan beat their own record – they...

NRL Finals Loom as Regular Season Concludes

The first fixtures of the National Rugby League's finals series are locked in after the final round of the regular season came to an end today. The Competitors While Penrith Panthers had already secured the minor premiership and the top eight were determined two rounds ago, some key positions were still open and the race for those positions made for some entertaining footy. The Newcastle Knights failed to hold sixth place, going down on Friday to a...

Russian GP – Race Preview

Russian Grand Prix can be a boring race so let's hope this race gets off to a great start. The only memory I have of the Russian GP is Valtteri Bottas letting Lewis Hamilton win. Last race at Mugello was an exciting race. With two red flags and one horrible crash. And Ferrari 1000 celebration wasn't the best either, but that might be because of the strict rules now during COVID 19. So I am happy...

Benny Leonard: Always A Champion

If you sat down with a group of boxing fans under the age of say, 50, and began to talk about whether Benny Leonard really is a Top-10 all-time fighter, you'd probably have a cacophony of voices barking at you about how great "Sugar" Ray really was. Tell them you were talking about Benny Leonard though, and you might hear a lot of "Who's that?" from the same group. But Benny Leonard most definitely belongs...

The Green Light: The Rugby Championship 2020

In what has been a challenging year for many rugby fans and mainly the players, the Southern Hemisphere's Rugby Championship 2020 tournament has just been confirmed for the back end of the season. The Rugby Championship tournament - previously known as the Tri-Nations - was inaugurated in 1996 with the three rugby-rich countries; Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, all contesting for the converted trophy. In 2012, the tournament expanded to add the South...

Social Connect


Trending Now

AFL Finals Locked In

This weekend's results conclude the heavily disrupted Australian Football League regular season, turning attention towards the Finals series in October. Across 18 rounds spanning six...
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x