After becoming WBO middleweight world champion, 27-year old Billy Joe Saunders, with an unbeaten professional record of 23-0, is finally set to make the first defence of his title this Saturday (December 3rd) on an MGM show at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley, Scotland. He meets fellow southpaw Artur “Wolverine” Akavov who has sixteen pro wins to his name.
The Hatfield traveller was originally scheduled to put his belt on the line against Ukraine’s Max Bursak seven months ago, but a hand injury ruled Saunders out. He meets this Russian based in Brooklyn on Saturday night and is expected to win and win impressively.
Ranked at number ten in the world by the WBO, the challenger is somewhat of an unknown quantity. After 13 pro bouts in Russia, followed by two in Estonia, Akavov linked up with New York promoter Lou Di Bella, which explains why his two most recent fights have been staged in the east coast state. Seven of Artur’s last eight wins have come inside the distance, but he has yet to face anyone even approaching Billy Joe’s world class level.
Billy Joe Saunders has been spoken of as a potential contender to Genady Golovkin (GGG) in the future, and he himself believes he has the necessary skills to beat the hard-hitting champion. If that is to prove the case in due course, Saunders needs to be making clear statements in bouts such as this one. It is an ideal opportunity for him to keep his name in the conversation as one of the biggest draws and most exciting boxers in British boxing, at a time when there is plenty of interest in the sport on home shores once again.
Saunders will prove to have too much quality, a lot will depend on at what point in the fight he warms to the task and starts finding the shots required to get the fight stopped. bet365 offer even money on Under 9.5 rounds, which is tempting enough to have a boxing bet.