Billy Joe Saunders has been warned he could lose his world title to ‘’an octopus.’’ Saunders will head to America in October to defend his WBO middleweight championship against Demetrius Andrade after rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren reached an agreement.
Andrade, 30, is a 25-0 southpaw from Rhode Island and a former WBO super-welterweight champion. During his reign, he beat Blackpool’s Brian Rose in seven rounds in June 2014 at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
“It was like fighting an octopus,” Rose remembered. “He’s got long arms – they go all the way down to his knees – and he was hard to hit and you don’t see his punches coming.
“They come from everywhere, over the top and underneath. Every time I threw a punch, I got hit. He just leaned back and hit me. It was like every time you open your front door someone throwing a snowball in your face. I ended up keeping the door shut ! It got to the stage where I stopped throwing punches because I kept getting nailed. I was down twice and the referee had to stop the fight.
“Nobody, amateur or pro, did to me what Andrade did to me. He outclassed me and maybe if he had fought more he would be a pound-for-pound fighter by now.
“He was a top, top fighter and this is a 50-50 fight against Billy Joe. Billy Joe has been more active and that’s a big advantage, but it’s still too close to call.
“I made it easy for Andrade by standing in front of him not moving my head. He doesn’t move his feet much. He likes to stand there, lean back and keep low and I should have made him move. If you move your feet and box him, that’s the way to beat him – and that’s the way Billy Joe boxes. I hope Billy Joe wins because he’s British, but if Andrade wins I think I could be telling my kids in a few years’ time; ‘Your dad boxed a great, great fighter.’”
Rose reports that at 33, he’s planning a comeback. The former British champion has been out of the ring since losing narrowly to boyhood friend Jack Arnfield last March, a fight that he says “could have gone the other way.’’
Rose has reapplied for his licence with the Board and said: “I’ve had a rest, got married, got over some injuries and I still love the sport too much to let it go. I’m going to come back at middleweight and see how it goes. I’m going to see if I can get down to 11st again.
“I’m a realist. I probably won’t fight for the world title again, but if I can win the British title again, I would be happy.
“The way I look at, I’m in the best place I’ve been for a while. I really do feel as though I have nothing to lose. I have already achieved more than I ever thought I would. I would have been happy to win the British title.
“I want to go to bed at night looking forward to getting up early and going or a run. I love getting up early with a purpose.
“There will be young lads out there gunning for me. They will think I’ve got a good name and I’m over the hill, but my fight with Jack could have gone the other way. There wasn’t much in it, I didn’t get bashed up.
“I’m just waiting for a date from [management] MTK and I’m hoping I’ve got another big night or two in front of me.”
Rose has won a Lonsdale belt outright – a replica is on his display at his gym in Blackpool – but says the biggest night of his 29-5-1 career was his revenge win over Carson Jones in August 2015.
Six months earlier, Rose had been stopped inside a round by the heavy-handed American –but out-toughed him in a crowd-pleasing rematch over 10 hard rounds.
“I was scared that night,’’ said Rose. ‘’For the first time in my career I felt scared because I knew if I lost I would have to retire. People thought I would try to outbox him, but after he hurt me in the third round, I gritted my teeth and went to war. People saw a different Brian Rose that night.”