Saunders set for title bid on home soil

PUBLISHED: 16:00 19 August 2015

Andy Lee (left), promoter Frank Warren and Billy Joe Saunders during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel, Manchester (pic: Peter Byrne/PA)

Andy Lee (left), promoter Frank Warren and Billy Joe Saunders during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel, Manchester (pic: Peter Byrne/PA)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

WBO middleweight bout moved

Billy Joe Saunders may have left his Newham gym to train abroad for his WBO world middleweight title challenge, but he is happy to get his big chance in this country.

The clash with title-holder Andy Lee was scheduled for Limerick on September 19, but has been moved to Manchester on October 10 after the Irishman was hit by a virus.

“I had no problem going to Limerick to fight Andy, but I welcome the switch to Manchester,” said Saunders.

“It’s every fighter’s dream to win a world title in his own country, that’s what I will do in October.”

Saunders has fought and won twice in Manchester, including his bid for the vacant European title last year when he halted Emanuele Blandamura in eight rounds.

“I will have a lot of support at the Arena. It will be a great night for me,” added the 25-year-old, chasing a 23rd straight pro victory.

Promoter Frank Warren announced the change this week as he confirmed Lee v Saunders would be part of a triple world title bill labelled ‘World War III’.

The WBO middleweight duel is featured with Manchester’s Terry Flanagan and Liverpudlian Liam Smith also having world title fights on the big Warren show.

Promoter Warren decided to switch the fight from Ireland to Manchester after hearing a virus had interrupted the Bow-born world champion’s training.

“I could not take a chance on the fight being called off,” said the promoter, labelling his October 10 show as a ‘fantastic bill’.

Saunders headed for a training camp in Marbella, where he prepared for his career-best win against Chris Eubank Jr last year.

Joining him were father-and-son trainers Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, who usually prepare their stable of fighters at the Plaistow gym which is used later in the day by West Ham BC amateur boxers.

“When we came out for the Eubank fight everything was perfect. The climate, facilities, atmosphere, everything was a winning formula. The result showed in my performance,” added Saunders, referring to his thrilling victory on points at the ExCel Arena in Newham’s Docklands.

“The only thing was the uncertainty of Eubank turning up to fight me, but in the end I happily handed him his first defeat.

“Andy is is a totally different kettle of fish,” added Saunders, who knows he faces his toughest test against the battle-hardened 31-year-old champion, beaten just twice in a 37-fight career.

“He’s a good, good, fighter who I respect, after all he’s the world champion and he’s got the title that I want,” he added. “There’s no way I’m taking him lightly. I’m over-estimating him so there are no surprises in Manchester, but at the end of the day we’re getting in the ring and having a fight.

“He’s a proud fighting man and so am I and there’s going to be no give between us, we both want to win. It comes down to who wants it more on the night.”

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