TUCKED away in Marbella, away from potential distractions and enjoying the world-class facilities the MGM Gym has to offer, Billy Joe Saunders is preparing diligently for his shot at WBO middleweight king Andy Lee on December 19 in Manchester. Having enjoyed an “A-class” training camp and recently signed with the MGM management group, Saunders feels confident he can make a statement against fellow traveller Lee.

“I’ve had good sparring and I’m injury-free,” Saunders told me by telephone from Marbella. “The facilities are second to none, and that, combined with the people around me, how they operate, I couldn’t ask for better. I’ve sparred a fast, strong light-heavyweight, I’ve got an Olympian flown over too – I’m not saying which country he’s from – and I plan to do something special, I’m going to smash Andy Lee and take his belt.”

Saunders has long been managed by his promoter, Frank Warren, but feels the time is right to split the two roles.

“I’ve been working alongside the MGM team for a year-and-a-half now, I’ve made good friends with everyone here,” he explained. “I’ve been looking from the outside at what they’ve done for people, how they’ve manoeuvred them, and the best thing is that here everybody gets [treated] the same, from a young boy doing a four-rounder to someone approaching a world title fight. My manager here has good connections, he’ll work with all promoters – although I’m very happy with Frank Warren – and I’m at a stage where my promoter can’t also be my manager. I need someone to get the best deal and the best peace of mind for me. At this stage I want to be earning big money and I believe MGM can do that for me.”