Saunders, the WBO middleweight champion, put in a spectacular display to defend his title against David Lemieux last Saturday (December 16) and is now in a strong position to secure a showdown with a star name. It’s satisfying for promoter Frank Warren, who has guided Saunders since he turned professional.
“It took a long time for him to suddenly become an overnight sensation,” Warren told Boxing News. “We sat down and had a big chat about the future [when Saunders was drifting]. If you’re not training well, you’re not doing these things… Then obviously there was the frustration of the Eubank fight, the pull-out of that [rematch]. We had the contract sent over from Golovkin [for a fight earlier this year] then after the [Danny] Jacobs fight he decided he wasn’t going to fight in June, he wouldn’t until he fought Canelo. Those were frustrations. But that’s boxing. You’ve got to get on with it. It’s frustrating for him. It was frustrating for everybody. I think what Bill’s found, which was missing, was focus and he’s got that focus now. He’s seen the light at the end of the tunnel.”
A world title unification with Golovkin or Canelo would most likely take place in September 2018 and Saunders will fight next earlier next year.
“He’ll be out April/May,” said Warren. “I’d love a really big fight for him but those two guys, it’s a nuisance that we can’t get to them. That bad decision [when Golovkin and Canelo drew] didn’t help. They’d probably have made the rematch anyway.”
The opponent for Saunders in the interim won’t necessarily be Danny Jacobs. “I don’t want to build it into something like we need Jacobs,” Warren said. “What’s in it for us? And if we’re going to do it, it’s going to be on our terms.”
Saunders merits a star name and a big fight. When Amir Khan last fought it was above super-welterweight and for a middleweight world title. Frank Warren would make that fight “in a heartbeat”. But he notes, “It couldn’t be for the title though because he’d have to go get a win.”