Cuba no go for boxer Billy Joe

PUBLISHED: 18:56 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:23 26 October 2009

Boxer Billy Joe Saunders

Boxer Billy Joe Saunders

THE nation s chance to see Hatfield fighter Billy Joe Saunders in action prior to the Beijing Olympics was dashed after a GB versus Cuba amateur boxing event was cancelled. The exact reasons behind the shelving are as yet unknown, but the bill was due to

THE nation's chance to see Hatfield fighter Billy Joe Saunders in action prior to the Beijing Olympics was dashed after a GB versus Cuba amateur boxing event was cancelled.

The exact reasons behind the shelving are as yet unknown, but the bill was due to take place in the UK with highlights to be shown on BBC this Saturday.

The timing of the tie did not pass without comment however, with posts on various boxing forums believing doing battle against what will be GB's main rivals at the Olympics somewhat strange and not very well thought out.

So perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that Hatfield hitter Billy Joe will be keeping his talents to himself - for now!

That's because Saunders is due to take part in the European Union Championships to be held in Poland on June 21.

Danny Hoy, his coach at the Hoddesdon Boxing Academy, believes this should be seen as extra sparring so as not to give too much away.

He said: "It is like his final preparation before he flies to Thailand to begin his Olympic training.

"But as we've said before, we don't want Billy to go all out and showcase his talents so close to the Olympics.

"It's a good chance to sniff out the opposition, but with Billy it's difficult because he goes out to win all the time, and doesn't like settling for second in anything."

The 19-year-old Times Territory talent has fully recovered from the injury he suffered back in late April as he continues to progress along the road to Beijing.

And no doubt he will be looking for gold medal success in Poland, to add to European Union Junior Championships gold he won there in 2007.

Coach Hoy added: "We are pleased with how his training is going at the moment, especially with his strength work, which we believe has improved by 20 per cent.

"He is also working with Gary Johnson down at the gym in target fitness work, but no doubt all the work he does with the GB camp will sharpen everything to where it should be."

Welterweight Saunders, who lives on a travellers' campsite in Hatfield, has tasted huge success at European amateur competitions.

He secured gold in the Tammer tournament in Finland in 2007, gold in the Strandja tournament in Bulgaria in February this year, and a bronze in the AIBA European Qualifier in Pescara, Italy, which ultimately secured his Olympic qualification.


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