Billy Joe Saunders
|Billy Joe Saunders|
Saunders in 2011
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
30 August 1989 |
Welwyn Garden City,
|Wins by KO||12|
Billy Joe Saunders (born 30 August 1989) is a British professional boxer. He has held the WBO middleweight title since 2015, having previously held the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles from 2012 to 2015, and the European middleweight title from 2014 to 2015. As an amateur, Saunders represented Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics, reaching the second round of the welterweight bracket.
As of January 2017, Saunders is ranked as the world's fourth best middleweight by The Ring magazine, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and BoxRec. He is also ranked as the second best middleweight in the UK by BoxRec.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Amateur career
- 3 Professional career
- 4 Professional boxing record
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Originally from Cheshunt, Saunders grew up in a Romanichal travelling community near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. His great-grandfather, Absolom Beeney, was one of the community's most famous bare-knuckle boxers. Billy Joe fought for Cheshunt Amateur Boxing club, overseen by Charlie Bliss, and also at Hoddesdon Amateur Boxing Club.
In 2008 Saunders qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the welterweight division at the age of 18. At the European area qualifier in Pescara, Italy he beat European champion Andrey Balanov and Kakhaber Zhvania, but lost in the semi-final to Oleksandr Stretskyy before beating Pavol Hlavačka for the all-important third spot. to become the first person from the British Romanichal community to qualify for the games.
In Beijing he beat Adem Kılıççı in the first round but lost to old foe Carlos Banteux in the second. He was subsequently suspended for "lewd behaviour", allegedly pertaining to an incident with a local woman during a pre-season training camp in France. In early December 2008, Saunders turned professional and signed with promoter Frank Warren.
Saunders made his professional debut on 28 February 2009 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, against Attila Molnar. Saunders looked confident from the opening bell, landing hard combinations which quickly overwhelmed Molnar. In round two, a series of punches that landed flush on Molnar's chin caused the referee to stop the fight and save a dazed Molnar. Saunders won his second fight by second-round stoppage of Ronny Gabel and his third fight, also by second round stoppage, of Matt Scriven. On 9 October 2009, he went four full rounds to outpoint Alex Spitko. On 21 May 2011, he scored an impressive second-round knockout victory over Kevin Hammond. Saunders went on to score wins against Norbert Szekeres, Gary Boulden and Tony Hill, the last of these giving him his seventh professional knockout victory and his first major regional title, the Commonwealth middleweight championship, on 28 April 2012. For his first defence of the title, on 1 June, Saunders went the full twelve-round distance (also a first) against veteran Bradley Pryce, outpointing him comfortably. A then-undefeated Jarrod Fletcher was quickly dispatched in two rounds on 14 September.
Saunders vs. Blackwell, Hall, O'Sullivan, Ryder
On 15 December, Saunders fought Nick Blackwell for the vacant British middleweight title. This turned out to be one of Saunders' first tough outings, as he was forced to go the full twelve rounds en route to a competitive unanimous decision victory on the judges' scorecards. A pair of trouble-free fights came next, against tough slugger Matthew Hall on 21 March 2013 and Gary O'Sullivan on 20 July, both of which also lasted twelve full rounds. 2013 concluded for Saunders with another tough fight on 21 September, this time against fellow British prospect John Ryder in defence of both the Commonwealth and British middleweight titles. Both fighters came in undefeated and fought for twelve competitive rounds, with very close scorecards all favouring Saunders.
European middleweight champion
Saunders vs. Blandamura, Eubank Jr.
It would be almost another year until Saunders had his next fight. On 26 July 2014 he added to his title collection with an eighth-round knockout of Emanuele Blandamura, earning him the European middleweight title. Immediately after the Blandamura fight, Saunders called out another undefeated British prospect and archrival Chris Eubank Jr. Prolonged negotiations ensued between Frank Warren and Eubank, Jr.'s team (led by his father Chris Eubank Sr.), with the highly anticipated fight eventually signed in October and taking place on 29 November. All three of Saunders' titles were on the line, as well as being an eliminator for the WBO world middleweight title. The rivalry and build-up was likened to the first fight between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank in 1990. Saunders went on to defeat Eubank, Jr. via split decision; two judges had scores of 115–114 and 115–113 for Saunders, with the third judge scoring 116–113 for Eubank, Jr. Having secured his third defence of the British middleweight title, Saunders earned the Lonsdale Belt outright; he gave this to his father Tommy as a Christmas present.
WBO middleweight champion
Saunders vs. Lee
With the win over Eubank, Jr., Saunders was in line for an opportunity to fight WBO world middleweight champion Andy Lee. In February 2015, Saunders and Warren accepted a 'step-aside' financial offer from promoter Lou DiBella in order for Lee to face Peter Quillin instead. Warren said that he hoped for Lee to win that fight so that Saunders vs. Lee could be staged in the summer. At around the same time, due to his high ranking, Saunders also received an offer from the IBF to fight for their vacant world middleweight title, but he reiterated his intention to follow the WBO route. In June, Saunders vs. Lee was officially announced for the WBO world middleweight title. The fight was initially scheduled to take place in Lee's hometown of Limerick on 19 September, but was postponed and moved to Manchester on 10 October due to Lee suffering from a viral infection. On 1 September, yet another postponement arose due to Saunders receiving a cut in sparring. The fight was subsequently rescheduled for 19 December.
On 24 July, Saunders took a tune-up fight—weighing in at 173 pounds (78 kg), near the light-heavyweight limit—and stopped Yoann Bloyer in four rounds. On 19 December, Saunders defeated WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee via majority decision to capture his first world title, with judges' scores of 115–111, 114–112 and 113–113. In the third round, Saunders scored two knockdowns against Lee to build up an early lead on the scorecards. He then continued to outbox Lee using head movement and an accurate jab until the later rounds. At this point, Lee began to land more frequently with heavy punches of his own, but was too late to overcome the points deficit despite a strong finish in the final round.
Cancelled title defences
Saunders' first defence of the title was scheduled for 30 April 2016, against Max Bursak at the Copper Box in London. However, Saunders was forced to pull out due to a hand injury sustained in training. "I'm bitterly disappointed. This is boxing and these things happen", he said at the time.
On 8 July, Saunders revealed that he would be fighting on 17 September, likely on the undercard of Canelo Álvarez vs. Liam Smith at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which would have been broadcast on HBO pay-per-view in the US. It was rumoured that this would set up a WBO middleweight title defence against Álvarez in December. However, Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN on 14 August that Saunders would no longer feature on the undercard due to him rejecting all of the opponents presented to him. Opponents supposedly brought forward by Golden Boy were Gabriel Rosado, Curtis Stevens, and Willie Monroe Jr.
Saunders vs. Akavov
Frank Warren finally confirmed Saunders first title defence would be against WBO European middleweight champion Artur Akavov (16-1 7 KOs), ranked by the WBO at number 10. The fight was due to take place at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on October 22 live on BoxNation. The fight card was postponed to November 26 after Saunders suffered a muscle injury, along with his stablemate Liam Williams also suffering an injury during a sparring session. The fight was postponed again to December 3 due to transitional issues with Akavov getting into the UK, the fight then took place at Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Scotland.
Saunders started off slow, showing signs of ring rust. Up until round 5, Akavov was the aggressor and doing enough to take the rounds. In rounds 5, 6, 7 and 8, Saunders bounced back and hit combos landing power shots in the process. This seemed to have tired Saunders out for the last two rounds. The fight went the full 12 rounds. Saunders won on all scorecards claiming a unanimous decision to retain his WBO title. The three judges called it 116-113, 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Saunders. Immediately following the announcement, Saunders took the microphone off the MC and thanked the live crowd for coming and harshly criticized himself on his performance, “There was nothing there. I’ve been out a year, a bit overweight. A few adjustments to camp. Just flat, really, really flat. I’d like to apologise to the fans, especially who paid for it. Terrible performance.”
Change of trainer
On 20 December, it was announced that Saunders had parted with long time trainer Jimmy Tibbs, who he had been mentored by since turning professional in 2008. Rumours had started when Tibbs was not present at Saunders last title defence against Akavov. Instead having Danny Vaughan, Johnney Roye and Ben Davies in his corner. Promoter Frank Warren officially confirmed the news. On 18 January 2017, Saunders announced he would be working with Adam Booth.
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|24 fights||24 wins||0 losses|
|24||Win||24–0||Artur Akavov||UD||12||3 Dec 2016||Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, Scotland||Retained WBO middleweight title|
|23||Win||23–0||Andy Lee||MD||12||19 Dec 2015||Manchester Arena, Manchester, England||Won WBO middleweight title|
|22||Win||22–0||Yoann Bloyer||TKO||4 (12), 0:53||24 Jul 2015||Wembley Arena, London, England|
|21||Win||21–0||Chris Eubank Jr.||SD||12||29 Nov 2014||ExCeL, London, England||Retained European, British, and Commonwealth middleweight titles|
|20||Win||20–0||Emanuele Blandamura||KO||8 (12), 2:58||26 Jul 2014||Manchester Arena, Manchester, England||Won vacant European middleweight title|
|19||Win||19–0||John Ryder||UD||12||21 Sep 2013||Copper Box, London, England||Retained British and Commonwealth middleweight titles|
|18||Win||18–0||Gary O'Sullivan||UD||12||20 Jul 2013||Wembley Arena, London, England||Won WBO International middleweight title|
|17||Win||17–0||Matthew Hall||UD||12||21 Mar 2013||York Hall, London, England||Retained British and Commonwealth middleweight titles|
|16||Win||16–0||Nick Blackwell||UD||12||15 Dec 2012||ExCeL, London, England||Retained Commonwealth middleweight title;
Won vacant British middleweight title
|15||Win||15–0||Jarrod Fletcher||TKO||2 (12), 2:42||14 Sep 2012||York Hall, London, England||Retained Commonwealth middleweight title|
|14||Win||14–0||Bradley Pryce||UD||12||1 Jun 2012||York Hall, London, England||Retained Commonwealth middleweight title|
|13||Win||13–0||Tony Hill||TKO||1 (10), 0:30||28 Apr 2012||Royal Albert Hall, London, England||Won vacant Commonwealth middleweight title|
|12||Win||12–0||Tommy Tolan||TKO||1 (8), 1:07||14 Dec 2011||York Hall, London, England|
|11||Win||11–0||Gary Boulden||PTS||10||5 Nov 2011||Wembley Arena, London, England||Won British Southern Area middleweight title|
|10||Win||10–0||Norbert Szekeres||TKO||1 (8), 2:51||15 Oct 2011||Echo Arena, Liverpool, England|
|9||Win||9–0||Kevin Hammond||TKO||2 (8), 3:00||21 May 2011||The O2 Arena, London, England|
|8||Win||8–0||Turgay Uzun||RTD||2 (8), 3:00||2 Apr 2011||York Hall, London, England|
|7||Win||7–0||Tony Randell||TKO||2 (6), 0:39||11 Dec 2010||Echo Arena, Liverpool, England|
|6||Win||6–0||Andy Butlin||PTS||6||15 May 2010||Boleyn Ground, London, England|
|5||Win||5–0||Lee Noble||PTS||6||5 Dec 2009||Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, England|
|4||Win||4–0||Alex Spitko||PTS||4||9 Oct 2009||York Hall, London, England|
|3||Win||3–0||Matt Scriven||TKO||2 (4), 1:21||18 Jul 2009||MEN Arena, Manchester, England|
|2||Win||2–0||Ronny Gabel||TKO||2 (4), 1:16||15 May 2009||Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|1||Win||1–0||Attila Molnar||TKO||2 (4), 1:47||28 Feb 2009||National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England||Professional debut|
- "Ratings". The Ring. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Rankings". Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Ratings". BoxRec. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Addley, Esther (4 August 2008). "Going for gold: young Gypsy keeps up a family tradition". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
- Hart, Simon (17 February 2008). "Billy Joe Saunders after Beijing Olympic gold". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Saunders one fight from Beijing". Ipswich Star. Archant. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
- "Billy Joe Saunders wants to be first Gypsy world champion". BBC Sport. BBC. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
- "CommonwealthChamps2007". Amateur-boxing.strefa.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Strandjata2008". Amateur-boxing.strefa.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "BBC SPORT | Olympics | GB boxers secure Beijing places". BBC News. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "European Olympic Qualifications – 1 – Pescara, Italy". Amateur-boxing.strefa.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- Dennis, Chris (18 March 2008). "Bbc Sport". BBC News. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "BBC SPORT | Olympics | Boxing | Boxer Saunders protests innocence". BBC News. 21 August 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Boxing Results and Boxing News". BoxingNews365. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- "Billy Joe Saunders Next Fight". BoxingReplays. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Davies, Gareth A. (28 November 2014). "Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr – where the fight will be won and lost". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Barnett, Phil (27 July 2014). "Billy Joe Saunders overcomes Emanuele Blandamura for European Middleweight Title". Daily Mail. DMG Media. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- "Saunders: If Chris Eubank Jr. Has a Pair, Let's Fight!". BoxingScene. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Warren, Frank (9 October 2014). "Frank Warren column: Dealing with Chris Eubank was a nightmare but we've finally got Billy Joe Saunders vs Eubank Jr signed". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Dooley, Terence (29 November 2014). "Looking Back at The Year Leading Up To Benn-Eubank". BoxingScene. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Gold, Alasdair (30 November 2014). "Billy Joe Saunders admits he has 'more learning' to do after Chris Eubank Jr fight". Hertfordshire Mercury. Local World. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Kim, Steve (3 February 2015). "DiBella Offers Clarification on Lee-Saunders Scenario". BoxingScene. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Warren, Frank (7 February 2015). "Frank Warren on Saunders' Shot, Froch, Kessler, More". BoxingScene. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- Donovan, Jake (12 February 2015). "Saunders passes on IBF/N'Dam, wants Lee-Quillin winner". BoxingScene. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- Dooley, Terence (2015-06-22). "Andy Lee-Saunders Will Be Special Night, Says Booth". BoxingScene. Retrieved 2015-08-04.
- Murphy, Darragh (12 August 2015). "Bad news for fight fans as Andy Lee v Billy Joe Saunders bout is moved to Manchester". sportsjoe.ie. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Donovan, Jake (1 September 2015). "Lee-Saunders: Warren Wants Medicals Before New Date". BoxingScene. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
- "Andy Lee-Billy Joe Saunders Set For December 19th". BoxingScene. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- Gilfoid, Scott (2015-07-24). "Buglioni defeats Castaneda; Saunders stops Bloyer; Chisora destroys Lobjanidze". boxingnews24.com. Retrieved 2015-08-04.
- Dirs, Ben (2015-12-19). "Billy Joe Saunders beats Andy Lee for WBO middleweight title". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
- "Billy Joe Saunders title defence off due to hand injury". Sky Sports. Sky. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- "Billy Joe Saunders to fight on September 17 - Boxing News". 2016-07-08. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
- "Saunders off Canelo card for rejecting opponents". Retrieved 2016-08-14.
- "Saunders to face Akavov in Maiden World title defence". 2016-09-30. Retrieved 2016-09-30.
- "Saunders Injured (Again), Ring Return Pushed To November 26 - Boxing News". www.boxingscene.com. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
- "Billy Joe Saunders world title defence postponed again". BoxingNewsOnline.net. November 23, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- "Saunders poor in decision victory over Akakov". The Ring. December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- "Billy Joe Saunders defends WBO middleweight title". boxingnewsonline. December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Saunders struggles in decision win over Akavov". Boxing Scene. December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Billy Joe Saunders Splits With Jimmy Tibbs - Boxing News". www.boxingscene.com. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
- "Billy Joe Saunders links up with trainer Adam Booth". January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Professional boxing record for Billy Joe Saunders from BoxRec
- Billy Joe Saunders on Time's list of "100 Olympic Athletes to Watch"
|Regional boxing titles|
|British Southern Area middleweight champion
5 November 2011 – 15 December 2012
Won full British title
Title next held byElliott Matthews
Title last held byMartin Murray
|Commonwealth middleweight champion
28 April 2012 – 19 December 2015
Title next held byTommy Langford
|British middleweight champion
15 December 2012 – 12 March 2015
Title next held byNick Blackwell
Title last held byVitor Sa
|WBO International middleweight champion
20 July 2013 – September 2013
Title next held byAntoine Douglas
Title last held byMax Bursak
|European middleweight champion
26 July 2014 – 7 March 2015
Title next held byMichel Soro
|World boxing titles|
|WBO middleweight champion
19 December 2015 – present
|Honorary boxing titles|
|Lonsdale Belt middleweight champion
29 November 2014