Billy Joe Saunders is understood to be ready to begin light training over the next few weeks as he eyes a ring return.

The former WBO world champion at middleweight and super-middleweight has been out of the sport since Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez handed him his first career defeat.

Saunders was stopped inside eight rounds by the Mexican in May 2021 and suffered multiple fractures to his eye socket.

But he isn’t looking for an easy touch in his first one back and has named a fellow former world champion as a potential ideal opponent for his comeback.

Liam Smith, the former WBO super-welterweight champion, most recently starred in Manchester last month as he ousted Chris Eubank Jr. inside four rounds at the city’s AO Arena.

And Saunders wouldn’t be averse to coming up against the Liverpudlian.

“If they said ‘do you want to face anyone’ I’d rather face Liam Smith first fight back,” Saunders told iFL TV. “Of course, he’s won. You gotta give him the credit. Forget about the biggest fight. Sometimes, it’s all right to just grab the money, but thank god I’m okay. I can feed my family.”

Saunders earned a career-high payday against ‘Canelo’, a man who ‘Beefy’ was stopped by inside nine rounds back in September 2016, but an all-British tussle between the pair is well on the way to being finalized, it seems, with the seeds beginning to be sewn.

“It’s about, for me, to get in the ring with somebody who’s obviously going to bring something to the table where I question myself and think I’ve got to be on my game,” Saunders added. “Liam Smith, I got to be on my game. Eubank, looking at that, have I got to be on my game? No. You haven’t got to be on your game.”