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Billy Joe Saunders, Willie Monroe agree to Sept. 16 title fight

06
Jul

Billy Joe Saunders has a new opponent for his second title defense.

The Brit was slated to fight Avtandil Khurtsidze on July 8 in London, but those plans fell through when the Georgia native was arrested on racketeering charges.

An industry source told RingTV.com that Willie Monroe Jr. will step in and challenge Saunders for his WBO middleweight title on September 16 in London. The source requested anonymity because the deal is not yet official.

Monroe (21-2, 6 knockouts) will have a second shot at a 160-pound title after suffering a sixth-round stoppage to Gennady Golovkin in May 2015. The tricky southpaw actually enjoyed some success in the middle rounds of the defeat, and was able to land some big blows.

Since the setback, the 30-year-old has scored wins over John Thompson and Gabriel Rosado, but inactivity could be an issue. Monroe’s last fight? That September decision win over Rosado.

Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs), too, will be coming off a layoff. The 27-year-old hasn’t fought since December, when he surprisingly struggled en route to a points win over unheralded Russian Artur Akavov. His last outing before that was in December 2015, when he won the title from Andy Lee. Saunders is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 160 pounds.

Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will meet later that night in Las Vegas for the other three sanctioning body titles and also the lineal and RING middleweight championship.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger

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