Is boxer Billy Joe Saunders to defend WBO title in Japan?

PUBLISHED: 14:11 20 October 2016 | UPDATED: 14:17 20 October 2016

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders

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Hatfield's WBO world middleweight boxing champion Billy Joe Saunders could be in line for a surprise title defence in Japan next year.

Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren, and members of his team, are currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Caribe Hilton Hotel for the 29th Annual WBO Convention and securing a huge fight in early 2017 for the undefeated fighter from Hertfordshire is high on the agenda.

Discussions have been taking place and are ongoing with the representatives of two marquee names, Gennady Golovkin, the IBF, WBC, and WBA ‘Super’ champion and Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez.

While both options remain firmly in the frame, another big fight option for Saunders has entered the running at the WBO Convention.

Warren, who has promoted Saunders since he turned professional after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has begun dialogue with Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda regarding a potential fight between his man and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Ryota Murata.

A bout between Murata, a huge name in his native Japan and Saunders would match together two former Olympians at the top of their game in a huge fight taking place in either London or Japan.

Prior to that though Saunders is to make a first title defence on Saturday, November 26 against Russian Artur Akavov in Cardiff, a month later that originally planned after the champion suffered a muscle injury.

Warren said: “It was disappointing for Billy suffering an injury ahead of his fight, but nonetheless he’s in a fantastic position.

“There are three options we are working towards at the moment, all of which are massive fights.

“Whichever way it plays out, we’ll be sure to deliver Billy a big clash that will get the pulses going in early 2017.”

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