Billy Joe Saunders confident Martin Murray is the perfect test ahead of hoped for big fights

Billy Joe Saunders will defend his WBO super-middleweight world title against Martin Murray. Picture

Billy Joe Saunders will defend his WBO super-middleweight world title against Martin Murray. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Billy Joe Saunders says his first fight in over a year is just what he needs if he is to target the big bouts in 2021.

The undefeated Hatfield boxer will defend his WBO super-middleweight world title against Martin Murray on Friday at Wembley Arena in what will be his first fight in 13 months.

It will be Murray’s fifth attempt at a world title and while he has come up short in the past, notably to Gennady Golovkin and Arthur Abraham, Saunders dismisses talk of him being an underwhelming opponent.

“I would be very disappointed if I went in there and blew Martin Murray away in one round,” said the 31-year-old.

“I really need rounds. I’ve been out one year, I need rounds to go into big fights for next year, to brush ring rust off.

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“You can do all the sparring in the world, but getting under those lights, that’s what I need to go into those big fights next year. To step across that bridge I need to beat Martin Murray and I know that.

“We’ve seen a lot of upsets this year and Martin Murray is not one those fighters you can ever completely write off.

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“I know I’ve got a bit of youth on him, but boxing’s a funny, funny game. A fight is never won until your hand gets raised in the air.”

Saunders had been on the verge with a mega fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in May but that was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mexican superstar will now face WBA champion Callum Smith on December 19 and Saunders says the fact there has been no contact with Alvarez suggests he wasn’t serious about the fight.

He said: “My fight with Martin Murray only got announced five weeks ago. They had all that time to get in touch and they didn’t try to get in contact so clearly they didn’t want me.

“I will be on it now and if it’s me in May then it’s me.

“If not I’ll 100 per cent be pushing my management company for a big, big fight next year. It has to be a unification.

“I would love the winner of [Alvarez and Smith]. If Smith wins I’m sure there is a rematch clause in there.

“But to win that fight you’ve got to be in good shape, good mind, good health. You’ve got to have a proper camp. I just don’t think four or five weeks is enough for that sort of fight.”

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