Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s eagerly-anticipated bout will be watched by a global television audience, but it is not the only world middleweight title fight on Saturday.
Billy Joe Saunders’s second defense of his World Boxing Organization belt against Willie Monroe Jr in London will not attract the same attention or glamour but is nevertheless significant since the winner is likely to face the victor of Golovkin-Alvarez clash, which takes place a few hours later in Las Vegas.
Golovkin, from Kazakhstan but based in California, defends the other three versions of the world title (World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation) against Mexico’s Alvarez in a clash between boxing’s biggest stars now that Floyd Mayweather Jr has gone back into retirement.
For Saunders, there can be no more excuses about motivation after an inactive and frustrating reign as champion. The 28-year-old English boxer won the WBO belt from Ireland’s Andy Lee in December 2015 but due to injuries and postponements has only fought once since, an unimpressive points win over Artur Akavov at a leisure centre in Scotland in December.
But Saunders (24 wins, 0 defeats, 12 KOs) feels rejuvenated and credits new trainer Dominic Ingle with improving his conditioning ahead of facing American Monroe (21 wins, 2 defeats, 6 KOs).
Golovkin, 35, and Alvarez, 27, are recognized as the best middleweights in the division and Saunders thinks the champion will prevail this weekend.
“I think it will be a very close fight but Canelo looks like he has overdone it in training, he looked fatigued in training and he’s overdone it,” said Saunders, from Hertfordshire, northwest of London.
Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren is confident his boxer will face the winner of Golovkin-Alvarez should he beat Monroe Jr.
Monroe, 30, is boxing for the first time in a year and has registered two points-wins since being stopped in six rounds by knockout specialist Golovkin.
“He took a beating before and if he quit before when there were three belts on the line, he will certainly quit when there’s one belt on the line,” said Saunders.
Monroe, from New York, refused to be drawn into trash talk but is hoping Golovkin beats Alvarez so he can have a re-match. (Nick Parkinson/ Agence France-Presse)
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