THERE has been a lot of talk about Billy Joe Saunders returning from his 29-month ring hiatus before the year is out ahead of a push for more major fights in 2024.
And the comeback cranked up a notch this week as he was the guest on Simon Jordan’s popular Up Front podcast. The edit, which came in just under an hour, covered the life and times of Saunders, often a polarising figure in the sport given some of his actions outside of the ring while few would argue he is one of the most naturally talented boxers of his generation.
He is, and always has been, one of the most open and honest talkers, too, and he was asked by Jordan about the string of instances that have damaged his reputation.
“Why do you put yourself in these situations, Bill?” Jordan asks. “I sit across from you and I think you’re a nice fella but I look at these things… and some of these things don’t make sense. You get involved with a police officer and get some woman to punch someone in the face, you get someone to potentially do a sex act or punch someone in the face. There’s a video out there of how to punch a woman in the face. I’m looking at you thinking ‘why would you do those things? It’s almost like an act of self harm.”
Saunders replies: “You see people who go away with the army and come back and they’re not the same person,” Saunders says. “With boxing sometimes you don’t see the sides of danger for yourself.
“But being young and dumb is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. My grandad once said to me if you’re never young and dumb you’ll never be old and wise. It hit home with me because looking back at the stuff I’ve done now… for my kids. All my kids have phones with youtube and it’s embarrassing. People have rubbers on the end of pencils to erase stuff. But in this age you can’t. I look back on it and I cringe. I can’t even tell you what was going through my brain. I can’t give you the excuse because it’s so dumb.
“People probably know me more for doing stupid things like that than some of my achievements.”
The sad truth is that he is right, but he only has himself to blame. Now he insists he is on a mission to make sure the final chapter of his career adds the sort of flourish he would want to be remembered for.
“I’ve been boxing since I was five so I needed the break so much,” he says. “I want to have one best performance of my life where I can show what I have got. And then be done with it.
“I’m going to fight in December. I’ll be with Eddie Hearn and fight at 12st 6 or 12st 5. I’ll have a run out and then look for the biggest fights he can bring me. I want three or four fights.”
The full pod is available on all the usual platforms and is well worth a listen.
ANOTHER DAZN show and another outing for an emerging star of co-comms Sunny Edwards. The gifted flyweight is in the early stages of his camp ahead of his mouth-watering clash with Bam Rodriguez on December 16 and spent Saturday night all over our screens as part of the broadcast team at Leigh Wood v Josh Warrington.
It is not Edwards’ first appearance on the comms and every time he is used he shows that he has one of the best boxing brains in the country. It is obviously the basis for his achievements inside the ring but he will have a long and successful career after it if he chooses the media route full time.
However, it has to be said that the comms for the Terri Harper and Cecilia Braekhus erred on the side of favouritism for the home fighter. Then, afterwards, Eddie Hearn waxed lyrical about the majority draw verdict, labelling it a ‘shocker’ but he might watch it back and agree this was a very close fight that could have gone either way.
Say what you like about the place of Tyson Fury v Francis Ngannou, about how Saudi money will damage boxing in the long run or how this is just another example of sportswashing – but my goodness can they cut a good promo.
This week, a 90-second video advert for the Riyadh clash, which takes place on October 28, was released which shows the two heavyweights essentially punching stuff so hard that other stuff breaks – like the Hollywood sign. Another scene shows Tyson Fury sitting in a greasy spoon while Ngannou whips a pair of battle ropes so hard that the Gypsy King’s entire Full English falls on the floor.
Terrible explanation but you get the idea. However, what it shows, above all, is that this is now very big budget. Where boxing has often had to scrimp and save on all things promo, it appears that the seemingly bottomless well of cash in the Kingdom now extends to content like this. No expense spared.
And in a world where breaking outside of the small hardcore fan base, videos like this – without doubt one of the best of its kind this sport has ever seen – will go a long way to catch the attention of the wider public whether you like it or not.