Billy Joe books trip to Olympics

PUBLISHED: 10:06 02 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 26 October 2009

Boxer Billy Joe Saunders

Boxer Billy Joe Saunders

HATFIELD boxer Billy Joe Saunders secured his place in the Olympic Games last night. The 18-year-old welterweight beat Slovakian Pavol Hlavacka on Saturday for third place in the AIBA European Olympic qualifying tournament in Pescara, Italy. That means th

HATFIELD boxer Billy Joe Saunders secured his place in the Olympic Games last night.

The 18-year-old welterweight beat Slovakian Pavol Hlavacka on Saturday for third place in the AIBA European Olympic qualifying tournament in Pescara, Italy.

That means the Hoddesdon Boxing Academy product will fight in Beijing this August.

Saunders, who lives on a gypsy caravan site on the outskirts of Hatfield, narrowly missed out on automatic Olympic qualification on Friday when he lost, unjustly in many quarters, to Olexandr Stretskyy 15-13 in his semi-final bout.

Billy Joe bounced back from that blow which ended a 29-fight winning streak to comfortably beat Hlavacka in the bronze medal match.

The Herts pugilist became the seventh British fighter to book a ticket to Beijing with a 20-10 win in the qualifying box-off.

He produced a controlled performance to beat his Slovakian opponent in the 69kg class in Italy.

Billy Joe isn't the first in his family to make a name for himself with his fists.

His great grandfather, Absolom Beeney, was a prize bare-knuckle champion.

His father, Tom, is also a former amateur boxer and his older brother, Tom Jnr, has joined the professional ranks.


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