By Keith Idec
If everything goes according to Frank Warren’s promotional plan, Billy Joe Saunders will finally challenge Gennady Golovkin in December.
Warren, Saunders’ promoter, said during a press conference Monday to announce Saunders’ September 16 fight against Willie Monroe Jr. that he has had discussions with Golovkin’s representatives regarding a December bout between Golovkin and Saunders. Those discussions were predicated on Golovkin and Saunders winning their respective September 16 fights.
A few hours after England’s Saunders, the WBO middleweight champion, meets Monroe at Copper Box Arena in London, Golovkin will partake in the biggest fight of his career, a middleweight showdown with Canelo Alvarez at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Of course, Golovkin and Alvarez could fight in an immediate rematch if their first fight is competitive and entertaining.
Regardless, the Saunders-Monroe winner will own one of the recognized middleweight titles. Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs) owns the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC middleweight championships, though Mexico’s Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) has said he will not fight for the WBC 160-pound title.
“The winner of this comes through it and they’ve got the WBO title, which is the piece of the jigsaw that the winner of Canelo and Golovkin, who would own three titles, would want,” Warren said. “So obviously I’m in Bill’s corner. If he comes through this, we’ll be pushing very hard and we’ve had conversations with Golovkin’s people that we could do that fight in December, providing Golovkin wins. And if not, it’d be Canelo probably in the new year. So a lot to go for, for Bill and for Willie.”
Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) thought he would fight Golovkin on June 10 in Kazakhstan, but negotiations between Warren and Golovkin’s handlers broke down after Golovkin defeated Daniel Jacobs on March 18 at Madison Square Garden.
Golovkin’s victory over Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) marked the first time he went 12 rounds during his career. In addition to what would’ve been a quick turnaround following a difficult fight against Jacobs, Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, didn’t want Golovkin to risk injury or an upset defeat to Saunders before his fight against Alvarez.
Once the Golovkin fight fell apart, Saunders turned his attention to making a mandatory defense against Avtandil Khurtsidze on July 8 at Copper Box Arena. Their fight was canceled last month because Brooklyn’s Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) was arrested and faces multiple charges for being part of a Russian crime syndicate.
Warren then made a deal for Saunders to face Monroe (21-2, 6 KOs), of Rochester, New York, two months later. Saunders hasn’t fought since he beat Russia’s Artur Akavov (17-2, 7 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder December 3 in Paisley, Scotland.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.