Bloyer loss not an option for Saunders ahead of Lee title bout
Billy Joe Saunders will enter the ring at Wembley Arena expecting a routine victory over French journeyman Yoann Bloyer, but carries the added pressure of knowing anything less could damage his middleweight world title shot later this year.
Reigning WBO middleweight world champion Andy Lee is scheduled to meet Saunders on September 19th in front of an incredible 40k fans at Thomond Park in Limerick, the defending title holder’s home patch.
At the home of the Munster rugby team, London-born Irishman Lee will hope to retain his title against talented middleweight danger Saunders, but his British opposition must first overcome the threat of Bloyer (33/1 with Coral to cause an upset).
The 25-year-old will be the overwhelming favourite to topple the veteran southpaw, but Saunders knows a stunning defeat to the Frenchman could result in his highly-anticipated encounter with Lee being scrapped.
Hatfield-born Saunders, the undefeated WBO number one ranked and mandatory title challenger to Lee’s crown, wants a strong showing against Bloyer but admitted he can’t stop thinking of his upcoming ‘dream’ fight.
“For me it is about walking away with the title but as we’re both from the travelling community, it is a big, big fight. There’s history in this fight,” stated Saunders.
“There is a lot of talk within our community and it is for them, but it is also for the rest of the fans as well.
“I have a fight on Friday night so at the moment it is hard to get excited about it but when I am away training, I will start to think about it. I will think about it when I’m jogging, when I walk in the gym I will think about it and I won’t believe I’m within touching distance of my dream.”
The anticipated bout is set to be the first ever world title fight contested between two boxers both from travelling backgrounds, and Saunders believes it’s his destiny to overcome an opponent who he watched growing up (11/10 to beat Lee).
“I have watched Andy a few times. I remember Andy from the 2004 Olympics when I was only 14. People from the community were all talking about it and then four years later I was there so I have watched him from the amateurs to the pros,” continued Saunders.
“They call things destiny and I think this fight is meant to happen.”
First up, though, the undefeated middleweight will have to topple a seasoned pro in the form of Bloyer, but is odds-on 1/500 to come away with a win, as he sets his sights on becoming world champion on Irish soil in the Autumn.
Speaking of his next title defence, Irish hero Lee admits there is plenty on the line (8/11 to retain title), but will surely be keeping a close eye on Saunders’ clash with Bloyer.
“We’re both good men so win or lose, we won’t be shamed, but we will be known as the loser within our communities so there is a lot on the line personally,” claimed Lee.
“More so than that though, this is a genuine middleweight championship fight. He’s the number one contender, the mandatory challenger and if I had not fought him I would have been stripped [of the belt] so that brings a legitimacy to the fight as well.
“There are a few sub-plots but the main thing is, I worked long and hard to get here, and I don’t intend to give it up by any means.”