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Boxing: Billy Joe Saunders can end frustrating year on a high with a November win in Cardiff

13:00 19 October 2016

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO World Middleweight title at Manchester Arena last December (pic: Richard Sellers/PA WIRE)

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO World Middleweight title at Manchester Arena last December (pic: Richard Sellers/PA WIRE)

PA/Press Association Images

‘Smokin’ Joe’ hopes successful WBO middleweight title defence next month sets up a positive 2017

Billy Joe Saunders gets a final chance to end a disappointing year on a winning note when he defends his WBO middleweight title against Artur Akavov at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff on November 26.

The latest in a string of setbacks was a training injury to Saunders that caused a postponement of his defence, scheduled for this Saturday, until the November date.

Yet the year began full of promise for the unbeaten fighter, who has developed into a genuine world champion under the training camp of Newham father-and-son duo Jimmy and Mark Tibbs.

Saunders was touted for lucrative fights with the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Saul Alvarez and even a money-spinning return with old rival Chris Eubank Jr.

Nothing materialised, so Saunders signed to fight German Max Bursak in the summer and was offered a meeting with Gabriel Rosado in Texas, but neither contest took place before he agreed the clash with Russian Akavov.

The 27-year-old will look to put the disappointments behind him, knowing a good win over Akavov could set up big-money bouts in 2017, including that sought-after clash with Golovkin.

‘Triple G’ would start a hot favourite for that, but confident Billy Joe thinks he has the style to upset the super champ — and the odds.

“I would like a Golovkin fight early next year and I am looking to be the first man to dethrone him,” said the WBO titleholder.

Saunders’ withdrawal is not to only reason for the delay as Welsh fighter Liam Williams suffered a training injury and postponed his British and Commonwealth welterweight title clash with Peacock gym’s Ahmet Patterson.

Also in title action are Tommy Langford and Thomas Stalker, plus a strong undercard which has also been put back until the new date.

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A night earlier, a show at the Brentwood Centre features Peacock gym light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde alongside area fighters Ben Hall, Charlie Driscoll, Sanjeev Sahota and Billy ‘The Bomb’ Long.

The Brentwood bill also includes English middleweight champ Lee Markham against Midlander Andrew Robinson after the withdrawal of original opponent Joe Mullender.

Bradley Skeete defends his British welterweight title against Shayne Singleton, while Boy Jones Jr. and Martin Hillman meet for the vacant Southern Area super-featherweight title.

**********

Two West Ham BC prospects, Jay Dujon and Aaron Palmer- Cencel, are just a win away from places in the finals of England boxing’s National Development Championships.

Dujon moved through her quarter-final contest at the weekend in Banbury when she took control against London Community Boxing club entry Bianca Hayes.

Dujon continued to dominate the exchanges, landing the more effective shots and looked good value for the unanimous verdict.

She is joined by her clubmate, heavyweight entry Palmer-Cencel, who won the London title in style and received a bye in the quarter-finals.

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Newham boxing club send their line-up of prospects into action against visiting opposition on their show at East Ham Working Men’s club on Friday night, their first tournament of the season.

It is a busy weekend for Newham who have joined the new Amateur Boxing Alliance (England) group and take part in their novice championships at the TA Centre, Grove Park, Lewisham on Sunday.

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