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Callum Smith rejects unification bout with Billy Joe Saunders

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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WBA super middleweight champion Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith 26-0 (19) has rejected an offer to face WBO boss Billy Joe Saunders 28-0 (13) in a unification bout on a BT Sport pay-per-view in September.

Last week Smith revealed that a 50/50 offer had been received from the Saunders camp and indicated he was interested in taking the fight.

But Smith’s manager and trainer Joe Gallagher said the money was right to make the fight.

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“It’s not the offer that’d tempt Callum Smith, as the world number one, to defend his titles against Billy Joe Saunders on another network/platform, so that’s it,” Gallagher told Sky Sports.

“Me and Callum have already agreed that it’s not enough, the money’s not enough.

“If they’re genuine and deadly serious that they want to entice the number one in the world at 168lbs in a unification with Billy Joe Saunders, then you have to pay the right money for that quality of fighter.”

Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren expressed his disbelief.

“Turned down. No counter-offer, no negotiations, just a flat no,” said Warren. “An all British unification pay-per-view fight with a 50/50 split and seven-figure guarantee isn’t apparently tempting?”

The 29-year-old Saunders, who previously held the WBO middleweight title, said he was disappointed at the news.

“Disappointed, but the last say should come from Callum Smith,” he wrote on social media.

“Great fighter and a unification makes plenty of sense for everybody. September ready.”

Smith, 29, was in the mix for a shot at world middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The Mexican superstar was also in discussions to face light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev but those negotiations fell through when promoter Kathy Duva said there wasn’t enough time to work out the complex contract in time for a September date.

Kovalev will now face Anthony Yarde in Russia on August 24, while Alvarez is tipped to face Jamie Munguia in September instead.

As for Smith and Saunders, it is looking increasingly likely they will make optional defences on separate cards in September.

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