HALL of Fame Promoter Frank Warren will stage a double world title card on Saturday April 14 featuring Billy Joe Saunders’ defence of his WBO world middleweight championship against domestic rival Martin Murray, alongside Terry Flanagan’s challenge for the vacant WBO world super-lightweight title against unbeaten American Maurice Hooker. The card will be broadcast live in the UK on BT Sport and BoxNation.
Saunders, fresh from a 12 round masterclass against David Lemieux in the Canadian’s home town, returns to the UK to face long-time rival Martin Murray. Saunders’ career best performance in Canada has seen him risen to be considered by many the top active boxer in the UK and the Hatfield man is looking for 2018 to be the biggest year of his career.
Murray is the final hurdle for Saunders in obtaining a complete domestic whitewash of British and Irish middleweights that already includes Andy Lee, Chris Eubank Jnr, Spike O’Sullivan, John Ryder and Nick Blackwell. Should Saunders overcome Murray on the April 14 it is likely to clear the path for a blockbuster showdown for all the world middleweight titles against the winner of the highly anticipated rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez.
Saunders said: “Martin Murray is a good fighter and I have got the greatest of respect for him. But he’s in the way of what I’m aiming for this year and that is to become undisputed middleweight world champion. He’s coming try and win my world title and I’m sure it’s going to be a good fight.”
Murray who many felt did enough to become a middleweight world champion against both Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm, only to be undone by the judges’ scorecards, is coming off a big win against Gabriel Rosado and will be out looking to scupper Saunders’ plans of facing Golovkin or Canelo and grab that blockbuster undisputed world title showdown for himself.
The St. Helens man said, “I rate Billy Joe as a fighter, he’s one of slickest out there and he is coming off of a great win and will be very confident. But I’m very confident, this is my time to become World Champion, as it’s the only thing I have left to do.
“I’ve fought everyone and in my opinion at middleweight I have only one genuine loss which is against Gennady Golovkin who is the best out there.
“I don’t count Martinez or Sturm as genuine losses because of the scorecards. But this time around, in my first world title fight at home, as we are both British fighters fighting on home soil, I know the best man on the night will get the win and leave the arena as world champion.”
In the other world title clash on the card, unbeaten former WBO world lightweight champion Terry Flanagan faces unbeaten American Maurice Hooker for the WBO World super-lightweight championship, in his first contest at the weight. Flanagan had defended his 135lbs world title five times before relinquishing the belt to move to super-lightweight, a more comfortable weight class for his stature.
Flanagan said: “Hooker is a very good unbeaten fighter, he fights on the back foot and looks to catch you from distance. However I’m very confident I’ll be able to deal with anything he throws at me to become a two-weight world champion. Winning this fight will prove I’m a legitimate 140lbs fighter I’ll be looking to unify the belts later in the year.”
Whilst undefeated American Maurice Hooker said, “I’m looking forward to coming to the UK to fight Flanagan and to become World Champion. We are both undefeated fighters and I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic fight.”
Details of the venue that will stage the event, the full announcement press conference and ticket information will all follow next week.