By Charles Brun: Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, 13 KOs) will be getting undercard treatment in his next title defense of his WBO super middleweight strap against an opponent still to be determined on DAZN November 9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Saunders, 29, will be fighting on the undercard of Youtubers KSI vs. Logan Paul. The two-division world champion Saunders needs a good opponent for the card, but the names that his promoter has floated has been nothing short of poor thus far.
Saunders wants big money fights against Saul Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Callum Smith. If your those guys, do you want to fight an unpopular champion like Saunders? Probably not. It’s not just Saunders’ lack of popularity that is the problem. He’s undependable due to his injury problems he’s had. It would be a risk for GGG and Canelo to fight Saunders not knowing if he’s going to make it through training camp without pulling up lame, and needing one or two postponements before he finally makes into the ring.
Billy Joe is coming! @bjsaunders_ will make his American debut Nov 9 @STAPLESCenter defending his @WorldBoxingOrg World title live on @DAZN_USA – opponent announced prior to next wednesdays open work out 👌🏼🇬🇧🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/sLo7A633Tr
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) September 20, 2019
Considering everything, it’s not really worth it for Golovkin and Canelo to bother with trying to fight Saunders. There’s too much injury risk. Callum isn’t a big name either, and he’s not been active. He might be more open to potentially devoting an entire year of his career fighting Saunders. There’s arguably better fights for Callum against the top super middleweights, but a match Saunders might interest British boxing fans.
Hearn hopes Saunders wins over casual fans on Nov.9
“Everyone in the sport knows that he is one of the best out there at 160lbs and 168lbs and he wanted the opportunity to prove that he IS the best,” said Hearn. “This event will be huge with a chance for Billy to box in front of a massive global audience of boxing fans and a casual audience that we hope will fall in love with our sport. A strong performance in November can set up all the mega fights for him in 2020,” said Hearn.
Billy Joe has got to start fighting quality opposition though, and he’s not been doing that. The only notable name on Saunders’ 10-year pro career is Andy Lee in 2015, and he barely beat him by a 12 round majority decision. The match-making for Saunders has been dreadful throughout his career, and he hasn’t helped matters with his constant injuries.
It’s a gamble for Saunders to be on the November 9th card, because his fighting style is arguably hard on the eyes. Saunders is more of a spoiler type of fighter, who fights defensively, and does a lot of off-putting showboating.
Saunders vs. Gabe Rosado possible
Saunders’ promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing has mentioned journeyman Gabriel Rosado (24-12-1, 14 KOs) as a possible opponent for Saunders to defend against on the November 9th card. It’s unclear how that’ll play out with the WBO, because they might not like the idea that Rosado isn’t ranked in the top 15. Rosado’s record in his last five fights is 1-3-1. That record doesn’t look too good, does it? Hearn would be selecting the 33-year-old Rosado due to him being a recognizable name to the U.S boxing fans.
Another name that Hearn mentioned for Saunders’ November 9th title defense is #2 WBO Rohan Murdock. This in an Australian fighter with a glitzy record, but one filled no name opposition from top to bottom. Murdock’s resume is similar to Saunders’ last opponent Shefat Isufi (27-4-2, 20 KOs). Saunders being Isufi by a 12 round unanimous decision last May to capture the vacant World Boxing Organization 168-lb title.
Saunders had originally moved up to super middleweight with the idea of taking on Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez for the WBO title, but he vacated the strap and moved up to 175. This left Saunders with an unappealing match against little known Isufi for the vacant WBO belt. As expected, Saunders beat Isufi, but he was hurt during the match at one point, and it was not an impressive performance by him. The fight showed that Saunders is going to have problems with the bigger punchers in the division when/if he ever fights any of them. Hearn would like to match Saunders against WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith in 2020, but that match could prove extremely difficult to make.
Hearn wants Golovkin to fight Saunders in 2020
At this point, Saunders needs to get visibility in the United States, because Hearn wants former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin to fight him in 2020. That would be a horrible fight for the U.S boxing fans to see if it were to take place right now. Saunders is a paper champion at 168, and he’s been undependable through the last four years of his career in suffering a rash of injuries that have led to postponements and cancellations of fights.
Golovkin might end up being sorry if Hearn is able to talk him into moving up to 168 to challenge Saunders. If Golovkin is on board with Saunders potentially needing one or two postponements that consumes the better part of the year, then he should go for the fight. But given GGG’s advanced age, he can ill afford to have the better part of 2020 chewed up waiting on Saunders.
Billy Joe being criticized for fighting on KSI vs. Logan Paul undercard
Saunders is taking a lot of criticism in being relegated to undercard status on the KSI-Paul event/card, but this is pretty much where his career is at right now. For whatever reason, Saunders has been spinning his wheels as a pro during his entire 10-year pro career, and now he finds himself on the undercard of a Youtube celebrity match between two non-boxers. It’s easy to understand why Saunders agreed to fight on the card. KSI vs Logan Paul is expected to be seen by millions of fans. However, you can’t call them casual boxing fans, because they’re likely not fans of the sport.