Billy Joe Saunders needs activity
WBO world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders held on to his title by the skin of his teeth in Scotland when he struggled past unfancied Artur Akavov. The flawed victory raised several questions about the unbeaten Brit’s future but it was a stark reminder of just how debilitating inactivity can be. Saunders had not fought since his title-winning effort against Andy Lee in December 2015 and had grown out of shape in that time. He lost the weight for his clash with Akavov far too quickly and it showed on the night. Beside that, he was also without veteran trainer Jimmy Tibbs – a huge absence for any corner. Going forward, Saunders needs to keep himself active and regain his momentum ahead of some potential super-fights with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Chris Eubank Jnr.
Kubrat Pulev is playing the waiting game
Eyebrows were raised when Kubrat Pulev reportedly turned down a lucrative meeting with IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua numerous times this year, and that confusion was amplified when the Bulgarian announced he was fighting Samuel Peter instead. He forced the completely shot Nigerian to retire after three rounds in an unnecessary fight. It seems that Pulev is happy to wait until next year to fight Joshua, when he will be mandatory challenger and can earn more money. Also, if Joshua fights Wladimir Klitschko as planned, the winner will hold the WBA and IBF titles, proving Pulev with even more of an opportunity. The Peter fight seemed like a marking-time fight as he waits for things to become clearer in 2017.
Murat Gassiev is for real
In Russia, Murat Gassiev took the IBF world cruiserweight title from compatriot Denis Lebedev on a 12-round split decision, with a fifth-round knockdown of the defending champ seemingly sealing victory for Murat. The Abel Sanchez-trained slugger was highly touted heading into the fight though needed a career-best performance to topple Lebedev, one of the best cruisers in the world. Gassiev did just about enough to clinch victory though it was a close contest that warrants a rematch. However Gassiev lived up to the hype and proved he belongs at the top level in his division.
Eduard Troyanovsky faces a tough choice
On the undercard in Russia IBF super-lightweight king Eduard Troyanovsky was flattened inside one minute by unknown Julius Indongo. It was an emphatic upset and a brutal knockout, one which could take Troyanovsky a long while to recover from. At 36, he is looking at the tail end of his career and the desire to push on may have been walloped out of him by the unbeaten Namibian. It is likely his team could coax Indongo into a rematch, but Troyanovosky must decide how much longer he wants to continue, particularly as inactivity hampered his progression back in 2012.
Richard Commey does things the hard way
Hard-hitting Ghanaian Richard Commey is not afraid to box on the road and is willing to fight anyone in order to clinch a world title. On Friday he was edged out in Russia by Denis Shafikov in an IBF lightweight title eliminator. It was a close fight and could have gone either way, with Commey unable to hurt Shafikov. In September Commey was on the wrong end of another tight call when Robert Easter outpointed him for the vacant IBF title, despite Commey scoring a knockdown. The 29-year-old has not had things his way but he continues to pursue whatever fights he can with the best fighters around – an example every fighter should follow.