After a long wait, Billy Joe Saunders will finally take to the ring and defend his WBO Middleweight title against Willie Monroe Jr, on 16th September 2017 a the Copper Box Arena, London.
Saunders won the title in 2015, when defeating Andy Lee and has defended his belt just the once since, defeating Russian Artur Akavov, back in December.
A clash with mandatory challenger, Avtandi Khurtsidze, at the Copperbox Arena was scheduled for July 8th but was cancelled due to Khurtsidze being arrested on numerous charges in the USA.
Ahead of the clash on September 16th, Saunders spoke of his opponent, Monroe Jr, at the press conference on Monday.
“Willie is a good fighter and a good boxer, this is his big chance and he isn’t coming over here just to make up the numbers. He has been in with some of the best fighters in the World including Golovkin where he came up short.”
“I think it is going to be a very close fight but I already have the mental edge over him. He said he was done against Golovkin and that’s not what a warrior would do. I’d rather get knocked out cold than quit. I haven’t had the chance to show my true skill and talent as of yet as a pro. I can’t afford to overlook him and I’ll be in the best shape of my life on September 16th. I’m 100% going to get the win.”
His challenger, Willie Monroe Jr, from the USA, and a fellow Southpaw, fought Gennady Golovkin in May 2015, where he lost to the Kazakh boxer in the sixth round when telling the referee he was unable to continue. Since the defeat, Monroe Jr has won two fights in a row via decision, over John Thompson and Gabriel Rosado, respectively.
Speaking ahead of the fight at the press conference between the two boxers, Monroe Jr said, “I am happy for this World Title opportunity, i’m always in the gym and I’m ready to go now; I live the life. I can’t wait to show up and show out in London. Saunders is a good fighter and a worthy World Champion but I’m coming for that belt.”
“I gave a good account of myself against Golovkin but I will admit that I got caught up in the moment. Billy Joe has had a lot of luxuries throughout his career that I haven’t had. All of his fights have been here in his own backyard, he hasn’t had to go into the Lion’s Den to prove himself. He calls me mentally weak but we’ll see on September 16th.”
Saunders’ promoter, Frank Warren, knows what could be awaiting the current champion if he is able to get past Monroe Jr, as the huge clash between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez takes place on the same day, the 16th September, from Las Vegas, Nevada, with Saunders hoping to take on the winner.
Warren said, “If Bill comes through this fight we are pushing hard for the winner of Canelo vs. Golovkin. If Golovkin wins I hope we can do that fight in December, if Canelo wins it could be in the New Year. Bill has to go out there and prove a point, there is a lot on the line.”
What are your thoughts on the fight? And if Saunders can defeat Monroe Jr, how would he fair against Golovkin or Canelo?