Billy Joe Saunders eager for Callum Smith fight... but admits he might have to wait for unification opportunity

JOHN DILLON
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Billy Joe Saunders eager for Callum Smith fight... but admits he might have to wait for unification opportunity

Billy Joe Saunders wants an all-British super-middleweight world title unification clash with Callum Smith.

Hertfordshire’s Saunders easily out-pointed Shefat Isufi to claim the WBO belt in the division at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium on Saturday.

He is now a two-class world title holder after reigning as the WBO middleweight champion until he was stripped following a controversial failed dope test in 2018.

Unbeaten Saunders has now revitalised his career after his 28th straight victory and is targeting Liverpool’s WBC belt-holder Smith for a date which would fill a stadium in the UK.

Smith, also undefeated, is set to fight next on the undercard at Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence against Andy Ruiz Jnr in New York on June 1 – with a date against former WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam expected to be finalised soon.

Saunders, 29, said: “I really hope we can make the Callum Smith fight.

“I think it’s a big fight and I think Smith has got the courage for it.

“He’s probably got other plans. He is fighting on June 1. But it would be a brilliant fight for the fans.”

Saunders is a slick stylist but would face an immense task against Smith who is very big at the weight with a long reach.

Smith beat George Groves to win his world title last year. (REUTERS)

The other world champions at super-middleweight are Andre Dirrell (WBA) and Caleb Plant (IBF), who defends against Mike Lee in Las Vegas on July 20.

The other option for Saunders could be a return to middleweight, although he insists that both superstars in the division – Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin – are wary of his style and have ducked him before.

Alvarez and Golovkin could meet for a third time in September.

Another route could be to step back down a division to challenge American WBO middleweight title holder Demetrius Andrade.

Saunders was due to defend that belt against Andrade in October 2018 in Boston before he was refused a licensed to box there following a positive test for the stimulant Oxilofrine.

Saunders admitted he was untroubled by opponent Isufi and wants to box again quickly after rediscovering his motivation.

He added: “I wasn’t really pushed. It was like sparring practice for me. I haven’t been in a meaningful fight for 14 months now. But he was number one with the WBO for a reason.”