By Shaun Brown
Big punching Bradley Saunders 9-0 (7) will always welcome the opportunity to end a fight early if it presents itself but the 28-year-old is hoping that his tenth professional contest against Ville Piispanen 18-4-3 (6) will provide the paying public with a chance to see him to take his power all the way into the championship rounds for the first time.
The British light welterweight prospect will have his first scheduled twelve rounder this Sat night at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle live on Boxnation and a win over Piispanen would land him the WBO Inter-Continental title at 140lbs. And whilst Saunders knows that a win inside the distance would represent something of a statement, against a man who has pushed British rival Lenny Daws and European champion Michele Di Rocco all the way, it’s not foremost in his thoughts as the fight nears.
“A stoppage win would be good, I’m not going to lie,” he admitted.
“But in the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘What am I like for the rounds?’. You ask any of my sparring partners though and they’ll tell you that I get better the longer a fight goes but people watching haven’t seen that. They’ve seen what I’m capable of early on because I’m heavy handed. I know for a fact though I can take my power right through to the final bell and maybe people will see that in this fight.
“Piispanen is very tough. I know he’s travelled before for fights. He’s just travelled to [Italy] fight for the European title and got beat off Di Rocco but he dropped him in the tenth round and that proves he comes to win. He actually asked to fight me, that was four weeks ago but it was only gonna make sense for some sort of title which these sort of fights need. We got the title sorted so that gave 2-3 weeks for both of us to get ready and then he had a warm-up fight (W UD6 vs. Janneh Haruna on May 17) so he’s more than up for this fight. He won that fight and then announced in the ring that it was a warm-up fight for ‘Mr Saunders’. He’s coming to win and it’s up to me to stop him and I look forward to fighting him.
“Somebody messaged me on Twitter saying he’s seen him sparring and he’s very strong and very tough and I said ‘Well luckily enough mate it ain’t a wrestling match!’”, he laughed. “I’m expecting a hard fight and not to just go in there and get rid of him because I think when I have got rid of people it’s when I’ve eased off a little bit and then let my shots go. I think I tried in the first round against [Mitch] Prince (last time out), nothing happened, I come back and my coach says ‘Relax and take your time’ and soon as I relaxed I done the job.”
Prince was down three times when the pair fought in April and became the seventh out of nine fighters not to go the distance with Saunders. Despite his loss, the Scot gained nothing but admiration from the former GB amateur star.
“I’ve got even more respect for Mitch Prince now having faced him. I followed him in the amateurs, I used to follow him a lot. He was in the Commonwealth Games before me and the World Championships before me so he was always just one step ahead of me in the amateurs. He came to win. I hit him with some big shots that other fighters in the past just didn’t want to know about. He did try to put it on me and he was always there and even when I put him down the last time [in the fourth round] he was still punching.
Speaking to him afterwards though, what a cracking lad he is, a hell of a lad. It was a shame we had to fight but it was one of those things and I was very happy with my performance.”
Saunders is now part of a 140lb domestic scene which is coming to the boil. A British title shot will likely be on the cards for the man from County Durham in 2014 but to do that he will have to go through the likes of (English champion) Tyrone Nurse, (Commonwealth champion) Willie Limond and (British champion) Curtis Woodhouse. The latter two face each other in a unification clash on Jun 27 in Glasgow.
“You’ve got the likes of Tom Stalker as well,” Saunders reminded ‘Scene. “He’s been training over here [at the MGM gym in Marbella] with me which is one of the best gyms in the world. I think there’s some cracking fights out there at light welterweight and it’s becoming better than most divisions where as last year people were saying it wasn’t that good but I think we’ll find this year a lot of good fights being made out there for the fans to watch.”
Saunders along with the likes of IBF bantamweight champion, Stuart Hall (who defends his title against Paul Butler on Sat night in Newcastle) are bringing big-time boxing back to the North East of England. And with other local fighters such as British cruiserweight champion, Jon-Lewis Dickinson and prospects Josh Leather, Thomas Ward and Jordan King, Saunders believed this is just the beginning of the good times for all involved.
“We always did well in the amateurs but never got a lot of recognition, I was probably the best known. But doors are opening now, I was one of the first up there to sign with Frank Warren in a long, long time and now he’s up there with Boxnation putting on shows, it’s gonna be brilliant up there from now on.
“I’m only going in one direction and that’s becoming world champion, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. If I didn’t think I could be world champion I probably wouldn’t be in the sport. It’s too hard of a sport to be playing at.
“I just want to thank everyone at the MGM Marbella. All the staff, Daniel the manager, the coach Seamus, Matthew Macklin for just getting me where I am today.”
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