Former two-weight world champion Billy Joe Saunders has been in missing in action following his stoppage defeat to Canelo Alvarez in May of 2021. Saunders would produce a valiant effort showcasing how he could produce a career-best performance in 2017 against David Lemieux until Canelo eventually caught Saunders with an uppercut, which ultimately halted the then-WBO super-middleweight champion’s pursuit of victory in round seven.
Saunders, since then, has been absent from the ring due to nursing a fractured eye socket courtesy of Canelo, ballooning up in weight alongside various other issues, which include weight issues and social media controversy within the travelling community.
However, Saunders is planning to return by the end of the year.
Promoted by Matchroom Boxing, Saunders is an interested observer in the future of one of his old foes, Chris Eubank Jr.
The pair famously crossed paths in 2014 as Saunders defeated the relatively undercooked Eubank Jr in a split-decision win. Eubank Jr would start very slowly compared to Saunders, which saw Saunders build an early lead on the scorecards before Eubank Jr came firing back to finish the fight strong and in control of the momentum.
Bitter words have since been exchanged over the previous decade, with that pattern still remaining true on behalf of Saunders.
Chris Eubank Jr, in 2023, has fought twice this year against former WBO world super-welterweight champion Liam Smith. Eubank Jr suffered a shock stoppage defeat in January before reversing the result in September via the same method.
Speculation has been rife regarding a probable bout between Eubank Jr and Conor Benn, having previously been slated for October 5th last year. Anti-doping issues on behalf of Benn curtailed that prospect, and Benn’s battle to fully clear his name is now subject to an appeal by UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control following Benn’s clearance to resume his career in July.
These issues have ultimately not prevented Eddie Hearn of Matchroom from pursuing all opportunities to make the long-awaited fight between Eubank Jr and Benn a reality, with a rumoured date of December 23rd in the offering for a possible bout.
Saunders, win or lose, is interested in facing Eubank Jr regardless and, speaking to IFLTV, is also backing Benn to cause the upset and defeat Jr.
“Listen, commercially [the rematch is one] that makes sense for both of us. Eddie is the man to make it. At the minute, he’s a 160 fighter, so I think he’s trying to prove himself at 160,” Saunders told IFL TV.
“Obviously, there’s a big fight for him there at the minute in Conor Benn. It’s an interesting fight that everybody wants to see. I’ll let Conor Benn take care of him at 160, then he’ll probably move up to 168 and I’ll just finish him off. I’ll take the leftovers.”