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BJ Saunders Pursues Another World Title on Saturday if He Doesn’t Implode First

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  • BJ Saunders Pursues Another World Title on Saturday if He Doesn’t Implode First

    Click image for larger version  Name:	D5aFMDMWwAAj-Sx.jpg Views:	1 Size:	82.5 KB ID:	13071

    By Arne K. Lang

    Dominic Breazeale, who challenges WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on Saturday, has adopted the nickname “Trouble.” The moniker would be a better fit for former WBO world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders who returns to the ring earlier that day with Shefat Isufi in the opposite corner. Trouble has blistered Saunders since his amateur days.

    There’s no question that Billy Joe is a highly skilled practitioner of the so-called manly art. He represented Great Britain in the Beijing Olympics at the tender age of 18. He won European, British, and British Commonwealth titles before winning the WBO version of the world middleweight title. In his last significant bout, he gave the redoubtable David Lemieux a boxing lesson on Lemieux’s turf in Quebec. His record as a pro is unblemished (27-0, 13 KOs). But incidents outside the ring have cost him his belt and branded him a boorish lout.

    After losing his second round matchup in the Beijing Olympics, Saunders was sent home when a video surfaced of him behaving lewdly with a Frenchwoman at his hotel in France where the British team was domiciled in preparation for the games. More recently, Saunders was shown harassing a 37-year-old female crack cocaine addict in a video leaked to a British tabloid.

    The incident unfolded in September of last year. Saunders, sitting behind the wheel of his Rolls Royce, offers the woman $150 worth of cocaine if she will assault a passerby and perform a sex act on one of his companions. She responds by slapping a stranger, whereupon Saunders speeds away.

    This was all in jest and Saunders would later apologize for what he termed “harmless banter.” But the British Boxing Board of Control wasn’t amused. Calling the incident disgusting, they hit Saunders with a $100,000 fine for “bringing the sport into disrepute.”

    Saunders, the great-grandson of a famous bare knuckle fighter, is a member of the Irish Traveler community. He is believed to be a distant relative of Tyson Fury with whom he now trains. They recently purchased matching red Ferraris.

    Irish Travelers tend to grow up fast. The boys invariably leave school early and enter the workforce at a tender age, usually in some form of construction work such as paving streets. The girls tend to marry young and begin childbearing while still in their teens.

    Saunders, 29, appears to be fast-tracking his 10-year-old son Stevie into adulthood. The boy was recently filmed driving his father’s new Ferrari around a car park (i.e. a Travelers compound). Proud Papa uploaded the film to his son’s Instagram page.

    This wasn’t the first time that young Stevie made the news. In September of 2017, at the weigh-in in London for Saunders’ bout with Willie Monroe Jr, the kid went and kicked Monroe in the balls. Most of those in attendance, although certainly not Monroe, found this quite amusing.

    Since dethroning middleweight titlist Andy Lee, a fellow Traveler, Billy Joe has been relatively inactive. His bout on Saturday will be only his fifth in the last 42 months.

    Some of this inactivity can be blamed on bad luck. Title defenses against Ukraine’s Max Bursak and countryman Martin Murray were put on the backburner and eventually cancelled when he suffered injuries in training. But he has only himself to blame for his lost fight with Demetrius Andrade.

    Saunders vs. Andrade was all set for Oct. 20 of last year in Boston. But when a random VADA test turned up a banned stimulant, the Massachusetts Athletic Commission refused to grant Saunders a license, killing the match. He, in turn, vacated his title, a proactive move as the WBO was expected to strip him of it.

    Andrade subsequently won the belt. His forthcoming match with Maciej Sulecki in June will be his second title defense. As for Saunders, his only action since vacating the title was a stay-busy fight in December that was buried on the undercard of the Frampton-Warrington show in Manchester. Saunders weighed in at a flabby 178 pounds but his opponent, a 41-year-old Namibian, graciously surrendered after four rounds.

    The WBO then resurrected the Saunders-Andrade fight, deeming Saunders the mandatory challenger. But Billy Joe would have none of it. Instead he made it known that he would henceforth campaign as a super middleweight and his promoter Frank Warren then went out and matched him with little known Shefat Isufi, a Munich-based Syrian, potting the fight at a soccer stadium in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, near Saunders boyhood home.

    The WBO anointed Saunders-Isufi an interim world title fight which meant that the winner would go on to meet the organization’s 168-pound title holder, Gilberto Ramirez. But then Ramirez vacated the belt to compete as a light heavyweight and, presto, the WBO dropped the interim tag to rake in a higher sanctioning fee.

    Has Shefat Isufi (27-3-2) earned the right to fight for a world title? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, and needless to say, with so many alphabet straps up for grabs, rhetorical questions of this nature get asked a lot.

    Assuming that he doesn’t do something stupid that torpedoes the match, Billy Joe Saunders will win this fight. The only question is which Billy Joe will show up, the Billy Joe that looked like a common journeyman in his dull title defense against Artur Akavov or the Billy Joe that looked almost Lomachenko-like against David Lemieux?

    From a financial standpoint, moving up to the 168-pound weight class looks like a smart move. The top dogs in the middleweight division – Canelo, GGG, and Daniel Jacobs – appear to be heading there so Saunders is ahead of the curve. But it would be premature to analyze those potential matchups. With Billy Joe Saunders, one never knows what tomorrow will hold.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Saunders knows it's all about the Boston Bruins now! 🏒

    Zdeno Chara kicks Deontay Wilder's butt, oh he doesn't?