WBO middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders will make the second defense of his title against mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze on July 8 at the Copper Box Arena in London.
Saunders, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 160 pounds, outpointed Irishman Andy Lee in December 2015 to win the title. The talented British southpaw has only made one defense, however, against unheralded Russian Artur Akavov, who he outpointed just before Christmas.
Last month, Khurtsidze, who is rated No. 7, stopped another British middleweight, Tommy Langford, in five rounds. That victory earned the Georgian a bout against the unbeaten Saunders, who insists that he is far from intimidated by the 5-foot-4 power-puncher.
“No disrespect to him but I will show you what he is when I fight him,” said Saunders. “All he is to me is a puffed-up Danny De Vito, coming forward throwing wild punches. It takes more than just power if you want to get anywhere near me.
“He will never beat me and I will make him look stupid. He does possess knockout power, but I’m going to make sure I’m in the shape of my life and give him the toughest night he has ever had.”
“I’m coming to the U.K. for another knockout,” responded Khurtsidze. “I took Tommy Langford’s unbeaten record and I’m coming for Billy Joe’s and his belt. I have waited patiently for my world title show and I won’t waste it. Billy Joe didn’t want to fight me last year and he would be wise to avoid me again. I love to fight.”
Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said, “Khurtsidze showed against Tommy Langford that he presents a clear and present threat to anyone in the middleweight division. He charges forward like a bull and holds lethal power in both hands.
“I believe that a clever and slippery customer like Bill is far too stealthy to get himself cornered against Khurtsidze. He has one of the best chins in the middleweight business and it will take something spectacular to beat him. This will be an intriguing fight.”
Ticket details will be announced on Monday at a press conference in London.
Information courtesy of a press release issued by Frank Warren PR
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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