HE has boxed only once in the last three years (and that was nearly 12 months ago), but today Bradley Saunders officially called time on an injury-plagued career blighted by spells of inactivity.
The 32-year-old bows out with a 13-1 record and a WBO intercontinental super-lightweight title to his name. While far from a disaster, it’s safe to say injury and general misfortune robbed Saunders of the chance of fulfilling his potential in the pro ranks.
“I’ve had five eye operations now and I’m going back into hospital for the final one,” the Beijing 2008 Olympian said.
“People think I’m retiring because of my hands, but it was my eyes. They are only just settling down now and looking normal again.
“Doctors said I shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car, let alone get in the ring and fight for a living.
“When my life slows down a bit, I would like to train people and keep my hand in the sport, say in five years’ time, either in the amateurs or professional game.”
Saunders, a former Commonwealth silver medallist (2010) turned pro to a great deal of hype back in 2012 and quickly built a reputation for aggression and heavy hands. He was an in-your-face swarmer, all huff and puff and power.
He was also, however, an emotional, temperamental fighter, and this proved his undoing in his sole defeat, a sixth round disqualification against Renald Garrido, when Saunders used his head rather than punches to respond to the attacks of his opponent.
It was at that point the hype started to die down and people started to realise Saunders’ career would be a turbulent and unpredictable one. His final fight, last June, was a first round knockout win over journeyman Casey Blair.
Willy Hutchinson has always had the talent. And now he has the promoter.
The gifted 19-year-old, of whom big things are expected, was previously signed to Hayemaker Ringstar, but, with opportunities seemingly drying up, has now jumped ship and joined Frank Warren.
Not only that, he has traded in Cuban coach Ismael Salas, the hired hand for former promoter David Haye and heavyweight prospect Joe Joyce, and joined forces with Sheffield’s Dominic Ingle.
“I’m thrilled to have signed a promotional deal with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren,” said Hutchinson. “I’m still learning, and learning as much as I can, but I’m extremely fit at the moment and I’m ready to do the job on May 19.
“Fighting on the undercard of such a huge world title show at a football stadium will be a brilliant experience for me. I have faith that I can go all in the way in this sport. I have a fantastic team around me, so if I keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing, I’m sure I can become a world champion.”
Frank Warren said: “I’m delighted to have done a deal to add Willy Hutchinson to our ranks. Managed by Shelly Finkel and co-promoted by Richard Schaefer, Willy has an outstanding amateur pedigree and I’m confident that he will be a huge success in the paid ranks. He has an exciting future ahead of him and I look forward to seeing his career develop on our forthcoming shows.”
As an amateur, Hutchinson won a European Junior gold in 2014 and then followed that with a World Championship gold in 2016, becoming the first Scotsman to ever win a World amateur title. He’s currently 3-0 (2) as a pro and will have his next outing, his first under the Frank Warren banner, at Elland Road on May 19.
And finally… former world light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal is reportedly coming out of retirement to fight former ice hockey enforcer and mixed martial artist Steve Bosse.
The bout is set to take place on June 29 at a venue still to be decided.
It’s official Pascal vs Bossé is on! June 29th it’s Time to put his boxing career on ice and send him back To MMA.
— Jean Pascal (@jeanpascalchamp) May 10, 2018
Bosse, meanwhile, has an altogether patchier (let’s call it ‘complicated’) track record, but does at least have the edge in ability to multi-task.
The 36-year-old from Quebec made his pro boxing debut in February, beating Julio Cueller Cabrera to get off on the right foot, and before that he cut his teeth playing semi-pro ice hockey in a Quebec league that actively encouraged fighting. After hockey came MMA and Bosse, a decent talent, amassed a 12-2 record, including two wins in the UFC, the last of which took place in June 2016.
Best-known for his MMA exploits, Bosse is the type who just loves a good fight – whatever the rules, whatever the arena, whatever the sport. But that’s still no reason for Jean Pascal, a one-time WBC world champion who boxed 24 rounds with Bernard Hopkins, to beat him up this summer.