By Charles Brun: American Denis Douglin (22-6, 14 KOs) is one of the names on the shortlist of potential opponents that promoter Eddie Hearn has for Billy Joe Saunders to face on November 9 on DAZN at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Saunders is fighting on the undercard of the celebrity match between Youtube personalities KSI and Logan Paul. Another name that is rumored to be on Hearn’s shortlist for Saunders is journeyman Gabriel Rosado. Like Douglin, Rosado isn’t a top tier fighter at this point in his career.

Hearn wants Saunder’ popularity to increase in U.S

Matchroom promoter Hearn thinks it’s a great opportunity for Saunders to become a household name in the U.S. However, Saunders’ November 9th opponent is expected to be the soft variety. In other words, this is purely a showcase [read: mismatch] level fight for Saunders. Hearn could match Saunders against talented U.S fighter like Demetrius Andrade, but that’s not his focus for this fight. He wants Saunders to shine, and the only way to ensure that he does that is to find someone he can easily beat.

Hearn wants U.S boxing fans talking favorably about Saunders after his November 9th fight. If Saunders were to lose, then that would wreck Hearn’s plans for him in 2020. Next year is supposed to be Billy Joe’s years where he makes big waves in boxing by taking on Canelo, GGG and Callum Smith.

Denis Douglin has lost 2 out of his last 4 fights

Douglin is harmless for Saunders, but not someone that will get fans excited. Douglin has lost 2 out of his last 4 fights, and hasn’t shown the ability to beat upper tier opposition.

Saunders targeting Canelo for May 2020

Hearn stated that he wants Saunders (28-0, 13 KOs) to face an American in his next fight. He’s trying to increase Saunders’ popularity with U.S boxing fans in a hurry, considering that he wants to position him as an opponent for Saul Canelo Alvarez in May 2020. Hearn also wants to match Saunders against Gennady Golovkin, who he co-promotes.

Whether Hearn is able to get either of those guys for Saunders will depend on his powers to persuade. Hearn might need the ability of a used car salesman to talk GGG and Canelo Alvarez into fighting Saunders, because there’s nothing it in for them. If Saunders is coming off of a win over 2nd tier fighter Douglin, it doesn’t benefit those guys to fight him. If Canelo or Golovkin beat Saunders, the U.S fans won’t take notice. He’s just another unknown paper champion with an inflated resume filled with obscure opponents.

There’s nothing in it for Canelo or Golovkin to fight Saunders. He’s an unknown in the U.S, and he has a spoiling style of fighting that lends to bad looking fights. It’s hard to look good against Saunders because he’s so defensive. Saunders has a lot of strikes against him in terms of his fighting style, southpaw stance, and him being an unknown in the U.S. Saunders being the WBO 168-lb champion means nothing. Boxing fans don’t care about champions. They only time they care is if the champion is popular, and Saunders isn’t anywhere close to that.

Saunders vs. Douglin won’t attract attention

Hearn matching Saunders against a soft touch in Douglin still won’t make him popular in the U.S. The way to become popular in the U.S is by fighters facing good opposition, and beating them in exciting fights. Hearn is trying the backdoor method to turn Saunders into a popular fighter in America by matching him against a non-contender, and then hoping the U.S fans get excited after seeing him. It’s an old trick that promoters use to build hype for their fighters.

Douglin isn’t well known to the casual boxing fans in the United States. Hearn might not realize that. The hardcore fans in the U.S know of Douglin from his losses to the following fighters:

  • David Benavidez
  • Anthony Dirrell
  • Jermell Charlo
  • George Groves
  • Jose Angel Rodriguez
  • Doel Carrasquillo

Douglin has beaten no one good enough for him to be known in the U.S for his accomplishments. He’s mostly known for his losses, and that’s not a good thing if he’s going to be used as a vehicle to showcase Saunders’ talent to the American fans.

Hearn to speak with WBO to get Saunders the green light on his November 9th opponent

Hearn said on Friday that he’s speaking with the World Boxing Organization to have them give Saunders permission to defend his WBO title against the opponent he has in mind.

Douglin, 31, isn’t ranked in the top 15 by the WBO or any of the four sanctioning bodies at 168; hence, Hearn would need permission by the WBO for Saunders to defend his WBO super middleweight title against him. There are a lot of good contenders in the 168-lb division that Saunders could defend against on November 9th, but they don’t meet the requirements Hearn has for him. Hearn wants Saunders to face an American for the November 9th card. It’s unclear whether that’s something that DAZN is asking for or if Hearn believes that the U.S fans will be familiar with Douglin.

Another name that is being rumored to be on Saunders’ short list of opponents for his November 9 is Gabriel Rosado. He’s an American that has previously lost a lot of well known fighters like Jermell Charlo, Peter Quillin and Golovkin. Rosado (24-12-1, 14 KOs) is arguably better known in the U.S than Douglin, but he’s also lost 3 out of his last 5 fights. How does Hearn talk the WBO into letting Saunders defend against Rosado given how badly he’s struggling right now? The fight would be viewed as a terrible farce if Saunders were to defend against Rosado.

Hearn: Saunders will get Canelo fight on Cinco de Mayo

“I’m going to call this now; I believe he’s going to get the Canelo fight on Cinco de Mayo,” said Hearn to IFL TV in predicting Saunders facing Canelo next May. “If you ask Billy what fight he wants, he would say Canelo, because it’s the biggest fight in boxing. I’d also like him to fight Gennady Golovkin,” said Hearn.

Saunders recently vacated his WBO middleweight title shortly after the WBO ordered him to defend against Demetrius Andrade. Billy Joe then moved up to super middleweight, and defeated Shefat Isufi (24-12-1, 14 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO 168-lb title on May 18. The fight was much tougher than expected for the 30-year-old Saunders, as Isufi rocked him a couple of times with hard shots, and gave him problems. Nevertheless, Saunders was able to box his way to a 12 round decision to win the vacant WBO title.

Billy Joe’s chin could be an issue at 168

Saunders getting hurt by Isufi showed that he’s going to have a tough time in the 168 pound weight class when he eventually faces good opposition. That might be one of the reasons why Saunders’ new promoter Hearn is choosing a non-contender for him to fight on November 9th. If Saunders had to defend against a contender with some pop in their punches, he might lose or look bad.

Since capturing the title, Saunders has talked of wanting to face GGG, Canelo and Callum Smith. Those are the big three for Saunders. However, Billy Joe is no more popular now than he was previously when he was fighting at middleweight. What Saunders failed to realize is the opponent that he beat to win the WBO super middleweight title, little known Isufi, isn’t a recognizable name to many fans. As such, Saunders was continuing the same thing he’d been doing for the last four years in beating no names.

Saunders has fought only 5 times since 2015

During the last four years, Saunders has beaten the following fighters:

  • Artur Akavov
  • David Lemieux
  • Willie Monroe Jr.
  • Charles Adamu
  • Shefat Isufi

Those five fighters are all Saunders has to show for the last four years of his career. Five fights in four years is woefully poor for any fighter, but it’s especially bad for someone who aspires to face Canelo and Golovkin.