By Scott Gilfoid: Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) will be back inside the ring in just 2 months from now on December 9 defending his WBO middleweight strap against an opponent still to be determined, according to his promoter Frank Warren. Saunders, 28, will be fighting at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.
The question is will the World Boxing Organization require that Saunders face someone good like #4 WBO Jermall Charlo for his December 9 fight or will he be able to take an easier fight against another fringe contender of his choice. You can argue that Monroe Jr. was little more than a glorified fringe contender even though the WBO has him rated No.2.
In working down the list of contenders in the WBO’s rankings, some of the best guys aren’t available to fight in December 9 against Saunders. That’s obviously good news for Saunders, because he would have a lot of trouble trying to beat Charlo, Rob Brant or Lemieux.
Here’s the WBO’s top 15 at 160:
1. David Lemieux
2. Willie Monroe Jr.
3. Rob Brant
4. Jermall Charlo
5. Daniel Jacobs
6. Francis Lafreniere
7. Walter Kautondokwo
8. Antoine Douglas
9. Atlantez Fox
10. Maciej Sulecki
11. Tommy Langford
12. Luis Arias
13. Conrad Cummings
14. Rafael Bejaran
15. Immauel Aleem
I’m going to make an early prediction of who I believe will be Saunders’ opponent for December 9. Since I don’t believe for a second that the WBO will force Saunders to face another mandatory challenger, I think we’re going to see #11 Tommy Langford (18-1, 5 KOs) as the next opponent for him. This is a no-brainer. Langford can’t punch, and he’s coming off of a 5th round knockout loss to Avtandil Khurtsidze on April 22. In other words, he’s perfect! To top it off, Langford is a recognizable name to the British boxing fans.
Langford isn’t good enough to hurt Saunders and possibly get lucky enough to KO him. Saunders needs to keep winning long enough to get a fight against the winner of the Gennady “GGG” Golovkin vs. Saul Canelo Alvarez rematch. Both guys will likely swoop in to try and fight Saunders once they’re done facing each other. Langford is scheduled to fight on October 21 against an opponent still to be determined at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Saunders recently got one his 2 mandatory defenses out of the way in beating Willie Monroe Jr. (21-3, 6 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on September 16 at the Copper Box. It was a dull fight with Monroe Jr. largely standing on the outside, waiting for extended periods of time before throwing a head-snapping jab.
Monroe was caching Saunders with the jab, but he was throwing so few of them, and he wasn’t letting his hands go. The judges scored the fight 115-114, 117-112, and 117-111. Boxing News 24 scored it for Saunders 117-111. Monroe didn’t do nearly enough to deserve the victory. It was a terrible performance from Monroe.
“The 9th of December, we’re looking to be back there,” said promoter Frank Warren to IFL TV about Saunders returning to the Copper Box in London for his next fight. “We’re looking to get him out.”