BOXING: Billy Joe Saunders eyes up Gennady Golovkin fight if he defends WBO title

Billy Joe Saunders (right) and Andy Lee during their WBO World Middleweight title match
Billy Joe Saunders (right) and Andy Lee during their WBO World Middleweight title match
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Billy Joe Saunders has been promised a fight with Gennady Golovkin or Saul Alvarez if he successfully defends his WBO middleweight title against Artur Akavov on October 22.

The undefeated 27-year-old is scheduled to make the first defence of the title he won in December 2015 having been kept inactive - not for the first time - by a hand injury.

Saunders had been scheduled to fight on the undercard of his friend Tyson Fury’s rematch with Wladimir Klitschko on October 29 at the Manchester Arena but he instead tops the bill at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

He hopes to defeat the Russian and fight again in December, before pursuing a unification fight with IBF, WBA and WBC champion Golovkin, or Mexico’s popular ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, either of which would generate a career-high purse.

Asked if talks had already taken place regarding a potential fight with either fighter, Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren responded: “Yes. Provided he wins he will fight one of those guys, 100 per cent.

“If he loses then he won’t. He’s got nothing to bring to the table; he’s got to bring the belt.

“He needs to just focus on this fight: looking ahead is not where he needs to be. He needs to get the ring-rust out of his system. After that we can get things moving.”

Saunders’ WBO title is the only one at 160lbs presently beyond the reach of Golovkin, who has repeatedly spoken of his desire to unify the middleweight titles.

He would by some distance be the most difficult opponent of Saunders’ career, and is one the Briton has previously doubted he could beat.

Saunders, however, insisted Golovkin would be his preference over Alvarez, even if he represents the harder opponent, and that it is not a fight he is pursuing for money.

“I want to see how good I am,” he told Press Association Sport. “In my own head, I know I’ll beat him. I’m not the one to walk into that arena and think ‘it’s Golovkin here. It’s going to be a good pay day but I’m going to get beat up’.

“No way, because I wouldn’t take that fight. I’ve earned what I set (out) to earn, it’s not about that anymore: it’s to see how good I am.

“I don’t want to keep going back to it, but what happened in Scotland (last week’s fight after which boxer Mike Towell died): every time I get in the ring there’s a risk of that happening to me.

“So I want to earn as much as I can, so the faster I get out of it - I love the sport, but it’s dangerous - but achieve my limit, (the better).

“I said (Golovkin would) beat both of (me and Chris Eubank Jnr) on the same night, but they said ‘when will you be ready for Golovkin?’

“I said ‘18 months to two years’. Not to get experience: to mature, and that’s what I’ve done.

“Frank and my management, I know they can make the fight. I’ve got the one title they haven’t.

“What do we have, one (unified champion) every 10 years? I can’t remember the last one: every title on the line. We owe it a lot.”