WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders was not at his best last Saturday night in beating challenger Artur Akavov by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 116-113 116-112 and 115-113 at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley, Scotland. Saunders was rusty from a year out of the ring, and not ready to fight hard for a full three minutes of every round against a motivated Russian opponent.
The fact that Saunders got a victory of quite lucky for him, because there are many boxing fans who felt that he didn’t deserve the victory. Saunders was fighting in the UK, so that obviously put him at an advantage in the fight. The British crowd was on Saunders’ side last night and cheering anything positive he was doing inside the ring. Never the less, Saunders was still outworked and appeared to be out-hit by the 31-year-old Akavov.
Akavov took the fight to Saunders in the first five rounds to control the action. Saunders came back in rounds 6 to 10 to make the fight close. Akavov then turned on the gas again and controlled the 11 and 12 round. I thought that he did enough to rate the win. The fight was in the UK, so it’s not surprising that Saunders won.
Saunders, 27, complained afterwards that he’d stunk out the joint with his performance. I don’t think too many boxing fans would disagree with Saunders on that. He did look bad, and he showed that he wouldn’t do well against Gennady Golovkin or Saul Canelo Alvarez if he winds up facing those guys next year. Those are the fighters that Saunders wants to face.
“Tonight was really, really flat,” said Saunders via Fight News. “I’d like to apologize to the fans. On that performance my name shouldn’t be mentioned with Golovkin and Canelo.”
I don’t think you’ll get too many boxing fans that will disagree with Saunders on that. The results of the fight showed that Saunders does not belong in there with Canelo and Golovkin right now. There’s a chance that Saunders could face one of them in his next fight in early 2017 if he doesn’t get injured again like he had happen twice during this year while trying to get back into the ring.
Saunders should try to get one of those guys inside the ring for his next fight, because if he faces his mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze, he’s going to lose to him. I don’t think it really matters to Canelo and Golovkin who they fight for the WBO title. I think they won’t mind it too much if they have to fight Khurtsidze for the WBO title.