BILLY JOE SAUNDERS is seeking a step up in class against the likes of Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez after winning the WBO world middleweight title from Andy Lee on Saturday night.
Saunders dropped Lee twice and went on to earn a majority decision at the Manchester Arena and attention quickly turned to who the Hatfield man will face in 2016.
After a deserved break Saunders is keen to fight former WBC middleweight champion Cotto, or the man who recently won that title from him, Alvarez.
“Cotto, Canelo those are the types of fight I want now. I’ve arrived at a new level. I know I need to stay on form if I want to perform at this level,” he said.
“I’ve watched Cotto since I was a boy and I’ve always wanted that fight. I’ve got the style to beat him. I’d take that fight next. That fight would be a dream and to go over to America for it would be an even bigger dream.
“Don’t rule out a rematch, Andy gave a good account of himself. I’m sure we could do it at a big arena in London. It was a close fight, I can’t say I ran away with it. I didn’t beat a contender or a fake champion, he deserves a lot of respect.”
Saunders’ promoter, Frank Warren, insisted that both of those fights could easily come to fruition.
“Billy wants the Canelo fight and it’s something to think about. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think that would be a difficult fight to make,” he stated.
“But it’s something I want to think about. For me, if we could make Cotto the next fight, we’d do it in a heartbeat. He’d beat Cotto.”
Plenty of fans are keen to see Saunders meet Chris Eubank Jnr in a rematch after narrowly outpointing him last year, but both Saunders and Warren were touchy on the subject.
Warren claimed an agreement had been reached for the pair to meet in the summer, but Eubank declined to sign the contract.
Eubank recently split with Matchroom Boxing in pursuit of a British title shot against Nick Blackwell, who Saunders has also beaten.
“He decided he wasn’t going to sign like he’s come kind of superstar. I’m the world champion now, I’ve got the say,” Saunders said.
“The Eubanks are so difficult to work with. I’m the world champion now and I’ll decide who I fight. I’ll have Christmas off but then I’m on to bigger and better things. If the Eubank fight comes, it’s got to be for a lot of money but it’s on my rules.
“They talk about fighting for a world title but don’t have the balls to go and do it. He’s going to fight someone I beat in 2012. I’d rather give Nick Blackwell a shot than Eubank.
“I’ve been there and done it. I’ve beaten him. If the money’s right, put a blindfold on me, get me in the same condition I was tonight and I beat him. If he thinks he can start fast, he’ll get caught early. For the Eubank fight I had a bodybuilding dietician, it didn’t suit my body. This time, different story. I’ve got a proper dietician.”
Saunders also conceded that Gennady Golovkin, who holds the WBA and IBF titles, is the man to beat at middleweight though still does not feel he is ready to face the Kazakh.
“Golovkin obviously is the man of the moment. But I’m world champion now, I won’t say no. Let Golovkin sit down, put the money on the table and let’s do business. I’ve got full trust in Frank Warren, I put my career in his hands,” he said.
“Golovkin, he’s the man. You’ve got to take your hat off to him, he’s a very good fighter. Fighter of the year in my opinion. He’s struggling for opponents, I know he wants to win all the titles but I’ve got to do what’s best for my career and I think Golovkin, realistically, I’m 18 months away from that fight.”