Billy Joe Saunders remained on course to challenge either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez after Saunders defended his WBO middleweight title with a unanimous points decision over American Willie Monroe Jr. on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Saunders, (25-0, 12 knockouts) was fighting for the first time under new trainer Dominic Ingle. He received scores of 117-111, 115-114, 117-112 from the three ringside judges. Monroe's record fell to 21-3, with six knockouts.
Saunders had been tipped to face the winner of the Las Vegas fight, but Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a 12-round draw with Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters holding their hands aloft in victory. There is already talk of a rematch.
In London, it was Saunders' superior sharpness and intent as much as his skills that secured his latest victory. Leading with the jab and also succeeding to Monroe's body, Saunders began with a typically fast pace and faced little more than jabs in return.
In the third round an accurate right uppercut hurt his challenger, and it was only when a cut opened by the bridge of his nose following an accidental clash of heads in the fourth that the American temporarily fought with greater belief.
With Canelo and Golovkin possibly heading to a rematch, Saunders made an unexpected challenge by calling out former champion Amir Khan. The Bolton boxer has been inactive since last May, when he was brutally knocked out by Canelo in six rounds. In that bout, Khan moved up to a catch-weight of 155-pounds to challenge Canelo for the WBC middleweight belt.
“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.”