Olympian Billy Joe won't hit his peak for six years

PUBLISHED: 10:12 01 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:30 26 October 2009

Billy Joe Saunders with promoter Frank Warren and fellow Olympians Frankie Gavin and gold medallist James DeGale

Billy Joe Saunders with promoter Frank Warren and fellow Olympians Frankie Gavin and gold medallist James DeGale

THE best is yet to come from Hatfield boxer Billy Joe Saunders. Trainer Danny Hoy says the 19-year-old Beijing Olympian won t be at his peak for another six years. And with hot talent Saunders already being tipped as a potential world-class operator given

Billy Joe Saunders will make his pro debut later this month

THE best is yet to come from Hatfield boxer Billy Joe Saunders.

Trainer Danny Hoy says the 19-year-old Beijing Olympian won't be at his peak for another six years.

And with hot talent Saunders already being tipped as a potential world-class operator given his form as an amateur, Hoy's statement will give light-middleweight rivals a few sleepless nights.

The Hatfield hitman will make his professional debut on Saturday, February 28 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham alongside fellow 2008 Olympians Frankie Gavin and James DeGale on a bill promoted by Frank Warren.

Hoy will be in Billy Joe's corner, and is backing his man to achieve big things.

He said: "Training has been going fantastically well.

"Mentally and physically, Billy Joe is spot on at the moment and he can't wait for sparring to really get going next week.

"But what's really impressed me is that Billy Joe has said that he doesn't want to be rushed and doesn't see himself fighting at the highest level until he's 25.

"I agree that he won't be at his peak until then, although even that age is quite young these days for a light-middleweight.

"We've only seen a fraction of his potential at the moment, and he can really push on from what he has achieved already. The sky is the limit."

Saunders is in good company turning professional at a young age - the likes of Naseem Hamed, Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan were all punching for pay when they were still teenagers.

And if he does make it to the top, one of the men he'll have to thank is Hoy, who has been his trainer since he began boxing.

"I remember Billy Joe coming into the gym when he was seven or so, and we'd just let him punch a bag or get on with something in a corner somewhere," remembers Hoy.

"People ask me if I always knew he was special, but when kids first begin boxing properly when they are 10 or 11, it's really too young to tell if they have got it or not.

"But by the time Billy Joe was 13 I felt we were on to something.

"At the age, he had the ability to switch tactics mid fight depending on who his opponent was, and that's quite a rare skill for someone so young to have.

"He just kicked on from there. Although he's always had great strength, I've concentrated on his boxing skills so he didn't become reliant on it, and now he can box and he can fight."

Hoy says he is looking forward to Saunders' professional debut, although it will be a first for him too as he's not had a pro fighter before.

"I'm learning about the pro game as well, but I've already had some great advice from the likes of Dean Powell and trainers Johnny Eames and Alan Smith and I know Billy Joe we are going to be just fine," he added.

Tickets, priced at £30, £50, £100 and £150, are available from Ticket Factory on 0844 338 8000, See Tickets on 0871 220 0260, Ticketmaster on 0844 847 2500 and Ticketline on 0871 888 9991.

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