English middleweight boxing sensation Billy Joe Saunders takes on fellow countryman Martin Murray at the 02 Arena, London on June 23rd with the WBO world title on the line. Anything other than a convincing defense would rate as a real upset according to bookmakers.
The betting has the champion picked to breeze past Murray and set-up a unification super fight with Kazakh wrecking ball Gennady Golovkin and neutrals are hoping that’s exactly how things pan out. With Saul Alvarez out of the picture for a while and his name now mud in the sport following that failed drugs test, Saunders is seen as the main danger to Triple G’s dominance.
28-year-old Billy Joe Saunders goes into fight 27 of his career with a perfect record showing 26 wins, 12 by KO, no defeats and no draws. The 5ft 11inch southpaw was last seen putting in a career-best performance to beat respected Canadian David Lemieux in his own backyard late last year. Not only did the champion stroll to a wide points verdict, 117-111, 118-110, 120-108, but he made a mockery of the challenge, showboating his way past the Montreal man’s big punches despite him carrying a KO average in the 80% margin.
Fight fans were impressed but not quite as much as odds compilers it would appear, with Billy Joe an odds-on favorite across the board with William Hill keeping their distance at -1400. That forces punters looking for an interest on the champ into the specials, and method of victory has also been chalked up as a foregone conclusion. According to odds-makers, Saunders will win and those looking to take a bit more of a risk should back him to succeed on points.
That’s a predictable approach from those who hold the purse strings but it’s difficult to stand up and argue against, with Saunders winning each of his last four on the scorecards – Lemieux’s name added to a list containing Andy Lee, Artur Akavov, and Willie Munroe Jr.
In fact, if you’re looking for the last Saunders inside-the-distance win, you must go back to the summer of 2015 – five fights ago – when making light work of Yoann Bloyer, cutting the Frenchman down in four at Wembley Stadium. That was before Billy Joe was world champion and, to put it into perspective, Bloyer now has a professional record of 18-35-2.
Opponent Martin Murray has been priced like winning isn’t an option and that will surely light a fire under the 35-year-old but his recent record isn’t exactly inspiring either. The St Helens boxer has lost two of his last six – beaten by Arthur Abraham and George Groves on points – but he hasn’t been stopped since February 2015.
The fact that 11th round TKO reverse came at the fists of Gennady Golovkin makes it easy to forgive, as not many take the power-puncher into the later rounds. That may have been over three years ago, but comparisons will be made between that night and how Saunders deals with the same opponent.