Billy Joe Saunders eyeing defeat of Max Bursak and stadium fight in July

07 March 2016 04:23

Billy Joe Saunders plans to use the first defence of his WBO middleweight title against Max Bursak on April 30 to build towards a stadium fight in July.

The 26-year-old produced the finest performance of his career to defeat defending champion Andy Lee via majority decision in December. And after insisting he has lost interest in a rematch with Chris Eubank Jnr - who he claims has rejected several offers to challenge him - he plans to pursue one of the sport's biggest names.

Saunders is the third world champion in a division in which a potential fight between the other two, Gennady Golovkin and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, is the biggest attraction. But he and promoter Frank Warren believe such a match-up is unlikely for later this year and that Saunders can capitalise on that.

Alvarez risks being stripped of his WBC title if he does not face Golovkin should he in May defeat Amir Khan, a week after Saunders faces Bursak at London's Copper Box Arena. However it would not be untypical of boxing's governing bodies to show patience to such a high-profile fighter.

"(I need) to keep busy," said Saunders. "It's challengers like Bursak: hopefully beating him, moving on to the next level again, and hopefully testing the water for one of the superfights.

"I'm not looking at it as a warm-up or anything - this is a world-title fight - I'll be using it for one as a training camp, getting into shape, and two for more ring time.

"Khan and Canelo are fighting soon, you've got Nick Blackwell and Eubank (fighting each other), and you've got Golovkin (defending his WBA and IBF titles against Dominic Wade on April 23), but I spoke to Frank last week and said I would like the Golovkin fight in the summer.

"I'm trying to be up there with your (Joe) Calzaghes and Ricky Hattons, that's the ultimate goal."

Bursak lost to Saunders' domestic rival Martin Murray in 2014 but defeated Blackwell a year earlier.

Warren, who also vowed to manoeuvre Ovill McKenzie towards another cruiserweight world-title fight after the controversial nature of his draw away to Argentina's Victor Emilio Ramirez for the IBF title, said: "We've got a very, very big fight for (Saunders) this summer (if he beats Bursak).

"The Golovkin fight is a stadium fight, and this time of year we can't get into a stadium so it's not going to happen (now).

"I don't think (the proposed fight between Alvarez and Golovkin) will go on. If that fight goes on it'll be next year. Bill's got himself right in the mix with those names.

"Bill will be in a position to be fighting for a unification match in July, provided he beats Bursak.

"If Saunders wants to fight Golovkin, you've got to beat this guy and you've got to beat him in style.

"Trying to deal with Chris Eubank Jnr's father, you lose the will to live. They don't fancy the fight."

Source: PA