By John Hargate
Commonwealth middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders has been ordered to meet British middleweight champion Martin Murray for latter’s British title by the British Boxing Board of Control before the end of October 2012.
Billy Joe, 14-0 (9), told BoxingScene that he’s relishing the prospect of stepping up in class. “I fight who they put in front of me, and if they put Martin Murray in front of me in my next fight, I’ll be fighting him,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of amateur experience, and I think that I’m ready for anyone in Britain now. In this game you’ve got to take a chance when you get it, and here’s my chance now.”
Saunders continued: “Murray had a draw with the world titlist Felix Sturm, and if I got in there and beat him, Sturm might look at me and want to give me a world title shot. This is my chance and I’m going to take it.”
There has been talk already that Murray may vacate. “I think Martin Murray will fancy it and take it,” Saunders rebutted. “He’s a champion and he’s a good fighter. I see no reason why not. Everything is in his favour, so we’ll see who the purse bids go to, see what he does and we’ll see how it goes. But I’m up for fighting him anyway.”
Could a win over Murray lead to a world title shot? “Sturm’s getting old now – he’s a little bit rusty on his legs. A couple of good twelve round fights and I’ll be ready for Sturm myself. I’m 22 now – I want to be moving on fast, moving on quick. I think this is my route to do it.”
Middleweight is one of Britain’s strongest divisions domestically. I asked Billy Joe how he’d compare himself to Murray, Barker and Macklin? “What is the distance between us at the minute is experience. At twenty-two, I know they wasn’t as good as me. A little bit more experience and I know I’ll be ready for all of them. Come next year, I’ll be ready for the lot.”