Boxing Preview – Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith

Away from the Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin clash in Las Vegas, there is some quality British action with Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith in action.

Billy Joe Saunders v Willie Munroe Jr

Hatfield’s Billy Joe Saunders (26-0) takes on American Willie Monroe Jr (21-2) at the Copper Box Arena in London this Saturday night.

As always with Saunders, you just don’t know what you are going to get on fight night.

The 28-year-old is ‘Superb’ as his alias suggests but he blows up in weight between fights and doesn’t stay active enough in his career.

There’s also the worry that he will have one eye on the other fight happening on the same night across the Atlantic between future rivals Canelo and Golovkin, involving all the other middleweight belts.

The Briton knows that winning this bout will line him up for the biggest fight – and payday – of his eight-year career.

Manager Frank Warren has already expressed his desire to align the winners of the two respective middleweight world championship fights in December this year.

Saunders is undefeated but has defended his world title just once and has not fought since December last year.

He was due to face Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze in July after he claimed the WBO interim title by stopping #2 contender Tommy Langford in the fifth-round of their April meeting in Leicester, but has since been arrested in America on RICO charges.

Saunders promised to be in the best shape of his life when he meets 30-year-old Monroe Jr at the Copper Box Arena, which he has lived up to, but piling on and then stripping weight fast does not do any good for stamina.

The visiting American has two defeats from 23 fights, the most notable being the sixth-round stoppage against Golovkin. Many criticised the New Yorker for quitting against “GGG” and he admits to being, “caught up in the moment.”

I think this fight will last the distance because Munroe hasn’t got knockout power – 26% KO ratio – and Saunders’ stoppages mostly came in the first half of his career.

I fully believe that Saunders is the better boxer and should outpoint him handily but I’m concerned for his conditioning in the later rounds.

With a mature and intelligent performance from Saunders, he should win by unanimous decision.

Callum Smith v Erik Skoglund

Unbeaten super-middleweights Callum Smith (22-0) and Erik Skoglund (26-0) bring a combined record of 48-0 into the opening bout of the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight tournament.

Smith and Skoglund will go head-to-head for a place in the competition’s semi-finals at the Echo Arena this Saturday in Liverpool.

Oleksandr Usyk and Marco Huck kicked of the WBSS cruiserweight version last weekend with the unbeaten Ukrainian handing the German his fifth career defeat with a 10th-round TKO.

The super-middleweight format isn’t filled with quite as many top names as the cruiserweight tournament – George Groves is the only world champion involved.

It has a lot to live up to especially as the last super-middleweight tournament, the Super Six, was won by current pound-for-pound star Andre Ward in 2011.

Although that lasted over two-years and was plagued with pull-outs, this competition sees the quarter-finals taking place in September and October this year, with semi-finals happening in January and February next year, culminating in the eagerly-anticipated, lucrative final in May 2018.

It’s refreshing to know that in just eight-month’s time, we will see a new super-middleweight superstar.

Liverpudlian Smith comes from a unique boxing family that include four British champions!

He is the youngest of the quartet that includes older brothers Paul, Stephen and Liam, that have all held a Lonsdale belt and challenged for world titles on multiple occasions.

Liam, signed to Frank Warren, held the WBO light-middleweight championship for two defences, conceding his title to Canelo in America exactly one year ago.

It is widely accepted that Callum is the best boxer of the foursome, winning the Commonwealth silver medal in 2010 as an amateur and claiming British and European super-middleweight titles as a pro.

The Merseysider stands taller than the average 168-pounder at 6 feet 3 inches, but he doesn’t fight like it. He has a proven track record of being one of the best inside fighters in the division.

His 23rd opponent enjoyed a long and successful amateur career that included losing to two-weight world champion Badou Jack in the Swedish national championships.

Remarkably, as a pro, the Swede has won titles with all the major governing bodies – WBO Youth Intercontinental, WBC Youth World, IBF Inter-Continental, IBO International, WBA International – all at light-heavyweight.

Skoglund is a well-travelled fighter having fought in Germany, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. He hasn’t been as active recently as the other competitors, not fighting at all this year.

He has beaten the aged former world champion Glen Johnson and Derek Edwards – the only man to beat the aforementioned Badou Jack in the professional ranks.

Ranked #12 in the world at 175lbs, he is big and strong for the division.

Although, having been rocked early in his career against the unknown Lolenga Mock, I expect Smith to blast him away in this first fight.

Taking nothing away from the Swede, I rate Smith on another level to Skoglund and fully expect him to win this opening bout comfortably with a stoppage in the first half of the fight.


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