By Radio Rahim
Back on September 16th in London, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) defended his title for the second time, with a twelve round unanimous decision over Willie Monroe. Jr.
For Saunders, the ring return was a long time coming. There were numerous issues that pushed back several of his scheduled fights in the last two years.
After the fight, Saunders surprised a lot of by people by making an unexpected challenge - to former welterweight champion Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs).
The challenge was shocking, because Khan has been inactive since May of 2016 - and in that fight, at a catch-weight of 155-pounds, he was knocked out cold in the sixth round by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
“There’s some big names out there. Khan’s boxed before at 160, I’d love the Amir Khan fight, what a fight that would be,” Saunders said. “He’s a very good name – I rate him – I’ve watched him for years, I know him and Kell Brook haven’t got it on, but if Khan’s looking for a big UK fight then I want to fight him.
“I don’t call his name by being disrespectful to him, I call his name because I think he’s a good fighter. I’m willing if he wants to come to 160, he done it for Canelo, he might not think I’m a good fighter to Canelo and he’s got a good chance of winning the title at 160, I’d love the chance.”
Former WBA 'regular' middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs) has been calling for a fight with Saunders since last year.
When Jacobs spoke to BoxingScene.com, he shook his head in disbelief when Saunders' name was even mentioned.
"I reacted that way because he called out Amir Khan after winning his last fight.... Amir Khan. It's kind of hard to respect a guy like that. So when you say his name, I just consciously feel like that... because he's holding on to that belt and trying to milk it for as much as he can - but a true champion will fight the best," Jacobs told BoxingScene.com.
"And I get that he wants to try to make as much as he can before he fights some stern competition, I get it. But Amir Khan? He fought how many years ago? I think a year and a half ago. And he lost by knockout, and [Saunders is] calling him out. And he's a welterweight. This guy is the middleweight champion. You are the middleweight champion, how could you play yourself and call out a welterweight. I don't respect it."