THE OTHER GUYS
Saunders outpoints Monroe in a fight that fails to ignite
Billy Joe Saunders defends the other piece of the middleweight puzzle
CONSIDERING what was served up when the three other world middleweight belts were contested only a few hours later in Las Vegas, this main event contest for the WBO strap between champion Billy Joe Saunders and fellow southpaw Willie
Monroe Jnr at the Copper Box Arena looked even worse.
Saunders, boxing for only the second time since he won the title by defeating Andy Lee way back in December 2015, was also not helped by one of the least ambitious displays from a visiting challenger to these shores in some years.
And despite complaining of ring rust, the champion eventually cruised home reasonably comfortably without ever having to delve into the sort of repertoire which has made him one of the country’s most talented pure boxers.
Despite never looking close to his best, still-undefeated Saunders was given a firm nod by all three judges as Julio Cesar Alvarado lodged a strangely close 115-114 alongside the more reasonable scores of 117-111 from Benoit Roussel, and 117-112 from Steve Gray. Marcus Mcdonnell was the referee.
After a tempestuous fight week which was capped by Saunders’ eight-year-old son Stevie punching and kicking Monroe in the groin at Friday’s weigh-in, the New Yorker had promised to bring the heat to Saunders.
In reality, he never got much past tepid, but frustrated Saunders with his awkward style. What was promising, however, was the Hatfield man’s ability to comfortably complete the 12 rounds, after a new diet and training regime up in Sheffield under Dominic Ingle.
The 2008 Olympian said afterwards: “I felt I handled him with ease and did what I had to do. There was a bit of ring rust.
“To be honest, when I first went up to Sheffield, I thought it was mission impossible to get down to the weight in 12 weeks. I’ve got to take my hat off to Dom and the team. They got me super fit and I did stuff I’ve never done before.
“I felt I did the rounds well but I got a bit lazy in some of them because there was nothing happening. There was stuff I wanted to try tonight, but it takes two to tango. He’s an awkward, awkward boxer, Willie, and it was a bit of clash of styles. But I beat him comfortable and got the win tonight.”
Saunders was not helped by a nasty cut which opened up following a clash of heads in the fourth round, which immediately seemed to be troubling him. But Ingle and his team, in Saunders’ corner for the first time, did a superb job in stemming the blood flow.
“When it happened I couldn’t see,” Saunders said. “It was blurry, like someone had chucked salt in my eyes. When I realised it was blood I just had to keep away until the end of the round because I couldn’t see him.”
Even before the clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin ended in a draw, which will surely set up a rematch, Saunders admitted that he would like another fight before taking on the eventual victor.
A December bout is pencilled in and the WBO champion raised a few eyebrows when he suggested who he would like to face. “Amir Khan has boxed at 160 before,” he said. “What a fight that would be between me and him.”
Earlier, the two standout names on the undercard both did the business against people who appeared way out of their league.
West London’s Daniel Dubois, in only his fifth fight, wiped out AJ Carter of Brixton in just 48 brutal seconds of their scheduled 10-rounder to claim the vacant Southern Area heavyweight title. It ended after the third knockdown of the opening round, and referee Lee Cook might have stopped it after the second, but allowed Carter to walk straight into a chilling final right hand.
Light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde, of Ilford, needed nine minutes to see off Hungarian late replacement
Norbert Nemesapati, who was pulled out between the third and fourth rounds by his corner after being dropped twice while shipping almost constant punishment. Referee Gray had no problem with the corner’s decision.
Welling’s Archie Sharp improved to 10-0 and recorded his sixth insideschedule win when he forced referee Lee Every to wave off his super-feather contest with Hungary’s Imre Nagy after 1-32 of the second. It was scheduled for eight. Both Lucien Reid, of Hackney, and
Zak Chelli, of Fulham, won their six rounders. Reid triumphed 60-54 against Barcelona-based Jose Aguilar on Every’s card, while Chelli got a 60-55 decision from Cook following a half-dozen hard rounds against tough Yorkshireman Adam Jones.
In the evening’s opening bout, New Malden super-middle Lerrone Richards looked set for a stoppage win after dropping Hungarian Ferenc Albert in the first round, but had to make do with a 60-53 success on Cook’s card.
There were wins for the three debutants too, as light-heavyweight
Ryan Hatton, of Tamworth, and welterweight Hamza Sheera, of Gants Hill, both recorded stoppage victories. Hatton forced Cook to wave it off after 2-16 of round three against Gillingham’s
Jack Davies, while Every called a halt to Norwich man Duane Green’s resistance after 1-28 of the second. Meanwhile, super-middleweight Umar Sadiq, of Ilford, beat Gloucestershire’s Lewis van
Poetsch over four rounds, with Every scoring it 40-36. Highly rated Erith flyweight Jake
Pettitt, meanwhile, moved to 2-0 after beating Bulgarian Stefan Sashov 40-36 on Every’s scorecard.
THE VERDICT Style clash in main event is not helped by one-sided undercard.
CLASH OF STYLES: Saunders fends off fellow southpaw Monroe [right]
TITLE DEFENDED: Saunders celebrates with his team
WRECKING MACHINES: Dubois [above] destroys Carter with brutal ease in less than a minute, while Yarde hammers Nemesapati [right] to defeat after three rounds of action