This morning Frank Warren has confirmed that Billy Joe Saunders will make his first defence of his WBO World Middleweight title against Russia’s Artur Akavov on October 22nd, on the undercard of the Williams vs Patterson jam packed card in Cardiff.
Having been on the undercard for Tyson Fury vs Wladimir Klitschko II, Saunders’ team and Frank Warren have had to move quickly to secure a different date and opponent. Saunders and his team will be happy to just have everything sorted, and, more importantly, have a fit and hungry Billy Joe Saunders to put into the ring for the first time since winning the WBO title back in last December against Andy Lee.
Akavov who is ranked at 11th by the WBO, has only tasted defeat once, back in 2012, in only his sixth fight a year after his debut. The southpaw comes into this 16-1, with seven by way of KO, and, impressively, never having been stopped. On the back of winning his last 11 fights too, this is by no means a push over fight.
Speaking of the fight, Saunders has said, "Nothing comes easy in boxing and I’m definitely not taking Akavov for granted, he’s a strong fighter and very dangerous and if I don’t come in 100 percent then he could cause an upset in my first title defence." This sentiment was echoed by Akavov, who warned that Saunders’ team were "gravely mistaken" to have picked him based on it - ’on paper’ - seeming like a standard first defence.
Frank Warren said of the fight that, "Hopefully Bill will shake off the ring rust with a successful defence to set up a super fight for early New Year." which you would assume is the hopeful negotiations for a blockbuster name such as a Golovkin, who Saunders recently called out.
Talking of the card Warren said "This is now shaping up to be an absolute cracker of a show with five title fights for boxing fans!”
The card itself is headed by the Liam Williams vs Ahmet Patterson bout for the British Super Welterweight title which could be a cracker of a fight in Cardiff. Tommy Langford will also be fighting Sam Sheedy for the - now - vacant British Middleweight title. Amongst the packed card, Bradley Skeete will also be defending his British Welterweight title against Shayne Singleton.