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Commonwealth Middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders talks to Daily Sport

Posted on by Paul Zanon

Daily Sport’s Paul Zanon caught up with Billy Joe Saunders ahead of his first defence of his Commonwealth Middleweight title against Bradley Pryce on Friday 1st June at York Hall.

PZ:       Who inspired you to get into boxing?

BJS:  I tagged along with my brother when I was six years old to the boxing gym, and the inspiration came from within myself from there on. The second I put on the gloves for the first time, I took to it like a duck to water and never looked back.

PZ:       You were an Olympian in 2008.  Any fighters from Team GB who you think might win a medal in 2012?

BJS:     I think Anthony Joshua will do well, but I have a very close mate, Tom Stalker who is my favourite for gold.

PZ:       You are now Commonwealth Champ. Is this the highlight of your career so far?  How far do you think you can go?

BJS:     Being Commonwealth Champion is the highlight of my professional career, but amateur wise, achieving a place on the Olympic Team at the age of 18 was something else, and possibly my biggest achievement. In terms of how I think I can go, I reckon I can go right the way to the top. I’m not in it to mess around, and at the minute it’s going ok.

PZ:       Tell us about your next fight against Bradley Pryce…. How do you see it going?

BJS:     I think it will be a tough fight and will give me a great bit of ring experience. He’s a good experienced fighter, but I can’t see him pulling an upset. I’m too fresh, too young and too strong for him.

PZ:       Your great grandfather, Absolum Beeney was a bare knuckle boxing legend, and your father was also a pretty tasty amateur. Do you think it’s in the blood, or does hard work still play a big part in your successes so far?

BJS:     It’s down to hard work. Don’t get me wrong, the blood line doesn’t hurt! My brother was a good fighter, and many of the Saunders were good fighters, but hard work is what helps you in the ring.

PZ:       Your hardest fight so far?

BJS:     The fights to qualify for the Olympics were my biggest test.

PZ:        If you could fight any middleweight in the world right now, who would it be and why?

BJS:    My sights are currently set on the best of British at the moment, and I will be the best middleweight in England within 18 months. I’d like to have a crack at Martin Murray as he’s a great fighter. After that I will be ready to take on the rest of the world.

PZ:       If you could spar three rounds with any past and present middleweight world champ, who would it be and why?

BJS:     If I could spar three rounds with any present day fighter, I would love to spar with Manny Pacquiao. I know he’s not a middleweight, but I’d love to spar with him. I’d also love to spar with Sergio Martinez, as he’s the best in my weight division.  Past champion I’d have loved to sparred with – Marvin Hagler.

PZ:       Jimmy Tibbs recently said you were one of the most talented fighters he has ever worked with.  What’s it like working with ‘Team Tibbs’? 

BJS:     Working with Jimmy and Mark (Tibbs) has given me a head start on everybody else. I look at some of the fighters out there and can see that they have been over trained, but Jimmy can take a look at me the second I walk into the gym and tell exactly how hard to push me. Some days I’m not as energised and he just seems to know how to get the best of me, but not push me to breaking point. Jimmy’s trained the best, and has got many fighters to the very top, so for him to give me praise like that is something else. If he’s not the best in the world, he’s certainly one of the best.

PZ:       How have you developed as an amateur boxer to a professional under their guidance?

BJS:     I am able to adapt more in the fight itself, pace myself, and punch a lot harder. That’s purely down to Mark and Jimmy’s hard work. That’s what you need as a pro. Be able to pace yourself and hit and hurt and that’s what I’m doing at the moment.

PZ:       Do you think Jimmy should be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame?

BJS:     A million percent he should be! Look at the fighters he’s trained. If he doesn’t get in the Hall of Fame soon, I’ll do my best in my career to help him get in there.

PZ:       Tell us one thing about yourself that not many people know.

BJS:     I just bought a race horse.

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