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Billy Joe Saunders set to defend WBO belt against Martin Murray in Wembley on Dec 4

Billy Joe Saunders vs Martin Murray

WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders 29-0 (14) will make the second defence of his title against former world title challenger Martin Murray 39-5-1 (17) at The SSE Arena in Wembley, London on December 4.

The 31-year-old Hatfield southpaw won the vacant title against little-known German-based Serbian Shefat Isufi in his hometown in May last year before defending against Argentinean Marcelo Esteban Coceres in Los Angeles in November.

Saunders appeared to be on the brink of signing a deal to face Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 53-1-2 (36) this year before the global coronavirus pandemic scuppered those plans.

Murray was originally scheduled to meet Saunders in 2018 but the fight twice fell through.

“I am very happy to be defending my WBO world title again,” said Saunders. “I haven’t boxed for a year and I really do miss being in the ring. I can’t wait to have my 30th professional fight and finish the year with a bang before a big 2021.

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected everybody in many ways, and it has had a big impact on the sport of boxing. The Canelo Alvarez fight falling through was very frustrating for me but now the journey continues in December.

“Martin and I were supposed to fight twice before but it didn’t happen either time. He said some stuff and so did I, so let’s see who can back it up.

“I’m enjoying training with Mark Tibbs. He’s incredibly knowledgeable in the sport of boxing and we are working on new stuff that we will show on the night.”

Murray, 38, has been unlucky in four previous world title bids, losing by split draw to Felix Sturm in Germany, dropping Sergio Martinez before losing on points in Argentina, going 11 rounds with a prime Gennadiy Golovkin in Monte Carlo and dropping a split decision to Arthur Abraham in Germany.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back in there and fighting for another world title. The big fights definitely bring out the best in me,” Murray said.

“This year has been a good year for me personally. It seemed like all the stresses of life were taken away, so I really enjoyed being able to relax a bit more and spend even more time with my family.

“There was no bad blood really between me and Billy to be honest, it was just a lot of frustration after he pulled out twice. That got left where it was, but we’ve definitely got some unfinished business.

“I’m expecting a hard fight and Billy Joe to be at his best, so I’ll be ready.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing says he is excited to close out the year with a big British grudge match.

“I’m delighted to announce another big fight for the 2020 schedule as we close out this tough year with a huge bang,” he said.

“All-British world title fights are always special, especially in the super middleweight division, and I’m really excited to see Billy back in the ring.

“We were 24 hours away from an announcement for Billy to fight Canelo when the pandemic hit and so it throws up the final roll of the dice for Martin Murray who will give it everything on December 4.”