Billy Joe Saunders not looking past veteran Martin Murray

Anthony Cocks

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WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders 26-0 (12) isn’t concerned by what people say about his last fight against Canadian power-puncher David Lemieux, insisting he is only focused on his next opponent Martin Murray 36-4-1 (17) who he will face at the O2 Arena in London on June 23.

“At the moment I’m focused on Martin Murray,” said Saunders, who will be making the fourth defence of the title he won against Ireland’s Andy Lee in 2015. “Once I win let’s see who’s out there that wants to take me on. People bang on about my last performance, there’s only one person that can lose this fight and that’s me if I overlook Martin. If I can’t beat these guys then I’m not the fighter that I think I am.”

At six-foot tall the 35-year-old veteran from St Helens will have a bit of size on the WBO champion, but Saunders insists it won’t make a difference on fight night.

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“Martin has a little bit more range and reach than me, but size doesn’t matter when you have the will to win,” he said.

“I don’t know the feeling of being beaten and I don’t want to experience it.”

Murray will be hoping the fifth time’s a charm after previous losing world title fights to Arthur Abraham, Gennady Golovkin and Sergio Martinez. In his first world title tilt in 2011 he had to settle for a draw against Felix Sturm in a fight that many people felt he deserved to win.

“June 23rd I will become a world champion, 100%,” said Murray. “This is my time! Billy Joe Saunders stands in the way of me finally becoming a world champion and some huge paydays.”

Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren says he expects a tough contest from Murray in what will likely be his last opportunity to win a world title.

“This is a very tough fight for Billy Joe Saunders. Martin Murray isn’t coming to London to make up the numbers. Bill can’t afford to slip up,” he said.


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