By Frank Warren, courtesy of The Daily Star
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS is desperate to prove himself again in 2019 and show the world how good he is.
The ex-WBO middleweight champion returns to the ring next Saturday hoping to put an awful year behind him.
After the brilliant performance against David Lemieux 12 months ago, it looked all set up for him to shine.
But big fights didn’t fall into place, injuries ruled him out of bouts and then he was robbed of his chance to defend his title against Demetrius Andrade in October.
Everyone knows our view on the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association test that scuppered that fight and left him with no choice but to give up his WBO title.
There have been some well-documented incidents away from boxing too which Saunders knows were his fault and he has apologised for.
The Hatfield man had hit a low point and I was worried for him.
But he has been inspired by the way his pal Tyson Fury has fought his way back to the top of the heavyweight division.
Saunders was one of the people who helped Fury when he was at his lowest during his mental health battle.
So it is fitting that the roles have been reversed and Fury’s fabulous display against Deontay Wilder has helped Saunders realise he cannot waste his talent.
He will return to action on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s IBF featherweight title defence against Carl Frampton in Manchester.
It will be a 10-rounder against Zoltan Sera just to shake off the ring rust and show he is not banned from boxing, as some believe.
Saunders was never suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control because he didn’t break any World Anti-Doping Agency rules.
It has been a year to forget for the middleweight but hopefully 2019 will be one to remember.