Saunders: 'I'll give him the toughest night he's ever had'

PUBLISHED: 12:11 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:11 18 May 2017

Billy Joe Saunders has promised to be in the 'shape of his life' against Avtandil Khurtsidze. Picture: CRAIG WATSON/PA WIRE

Billy Joe Saunders has promised to be in the 'shape of his life' against Avtandil Khurtsidze. Picture: CRAIG WATSON/PA WIRE

PA Wire/PA Images

Hatfield's WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders will make the second defence of his crown against mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze on Saturday July 8 at London's Copper Box Arena.

The date was confirmed this week when the two fighters were paraded in front of the media.

But where most press conferences pre-fights are feisty affairs, this one saw Saunders give his Georgian opponent a hug.

However, there is no uncertainty in the champ’s mind about how the fight will go.

Having already refered to his opponent as “a puffed-up Danny De Vito coming forward throwing wild punches”, Saunders said: “He will never beat me and I will make him look stupid on July 8.

“He does possess knockout power but I’m going to make sure I’m in the shape of my life and give him the toughest night he has ever had.”

Saunders has had a frustrating time since becoming champion in 2015.

A series of injuries meant the first defence of his title came almost 12 months after his victory over Andy Lee.

That fight against Artur Akavov in Paisley saw Saunders some way below his best as he out-pointed the Russian.

And he will need to rediscover that peak form against Khurtsidze who picked up a knockout win over formerly-unbeaten Midlander Tommy Langford in April to land this fight.

He said: “I’m coming to the UK for another knockout. I took Tommy Langford’s unbeaten record and I’m coming for Billy Joe’s and his belt.

“I have waited patiently for my world title show and I won’t 
waste it.

“Billy Joe didn’t want to fight me last year and he would be wise to avoid me again; I love to fight.”

Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said: “Khurtsidze showed against Tommy Langford that he presents a clear and present threat to anyone in the middleweight division. He charges forward like a bull and holds lethal power in both hands.

“I believe that a clever and slippery customer like Bill is far too stealthy to get himself cornered against Khurtsidze. He has one of the best chins in the middleweight business and it will take something spectacular to beat him.

“This will be an intriguing fight.”

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