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Saunders to defend against Artur Akavov on Oct. 22

Fighters Network

Undefeated WBO middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders will make his first defense against Russia’s Artur Akavov on Oct. 22 in Cardiff, Wales.

Saunders, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 160 pounds, floored Andy Lee twice on his way to claiming the title via majority decision last December and must get past Akavov to remain on course for showdowns with Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

“Nothing comes easy in boxing and I’m definitely not taking Akavov for granted,” said Saunders of his opponent who is largely undistinguished. “He’s a strong fighter and very dangerous and if I don’t come in 100 percent then he could cause an upset in my first title defense. I’m going to make sure I’m in the shape of my life and give Akavov the toughest night he’s ever had. He’s never been stopped before so this is going to be a first for him.

“I know why they picked me as an opponent,” said Akavov of Team Saunders. “Although I am very honored and proud to fight for the WBO world championship, at the same time, I promise to prove that the Saunders camp were gravely mistaken with whatever they were expecting of me in the ring. I represent my family first and my country and that alone will not let me fail.”

Promoter Frank Warren said: “This is Bill’s first fight in 10 months. The Russian is a tough guy who is capable of making things awkward. Hopefully Bill will shake off the ring rust with a successful defense to set up a super fight for early New Year.”

“I know that the champion Billy Joe Saunders is a professional, so I hope he’s not looking past Akavov,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Artur Akavov is a tough SOB who will bring the fight to Billy Joe. If this is a ‘keep busy’ fight, the champion better be prepared for a tough night. Artur is no joke.”

Quotes courtesy of a press release issued by Queensberry Promotions

Remaining tickets for ‘A Little Less Conversation’ priced at £70, £100 and £150 are available from Motorpoint Arena Cardiff; 029 2022 4488 and, Eventim; 0844 249 1000 and, Ticketmaster; 0844 8440 444 and

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Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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