Billy Joe Saunders 28-0 (13) delivered a boxing masterclass to unheralded Shefat Isufi 27-4-2 (20) to claim the vacant WBO super middleweight title at Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, UK on Saturday night.
In a largely one-sided contest, the 29-year-old southpaw controlled most of the action to run away the winner by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.
“(It was) my first 12-rounder at super middle,” said Saunders, who is planning to return to the ring in July.
“He caught me with a good shot. I ain’t been in a meaningful fight in over 14 months. He’s number one with the WBO for a reason, so he’s obviously good.
“My boxing ability will always get me further in the sport. Respect to my opponent and thanks to (trainer) Ben Davison.”
Saunders, who was moving up in weight after previously holding the WBO middleweight title, looked more than comfortable in his new weight class and retain much of his speed and movement despite the additional eight-pounds.
The gap in class was apparent early as the slick-boxing Saunders kept the slower Isufi at the end of his punches and punished the 29-year-old Germany-based Serbian any time he attempted to mount an attack.
Isufi spent much of the first half of the fight covering up and absorbing punishment, but he finally came alive in the sixth when a pair of right hands appeared to momentarily rattle Saunders and send him on the backfoot.
Saunders regained control in the following round and coast through the last six frames with typical swagger to widely outpoint Isufi.
Saunders hasn’t ruled out a return to the middleweight division for the right fight, but has also stated his desire to fight undefeated 168-pounder Callum Smith 25-0 (18), who hold both the WBA and Ring Magazine titles at super middleweight.