By John Hutchinson, Sports Reporter
Friday, October 7, 2011
BILLY Joe Saunders has backed Britain’s boxers at the World Amateur Championships to seize the life-changing opportunity.
The action which is being televised LIVE and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Platform Ch.456) from Baku in Azerbaijan sees the British boxers vying for Olympic qualification with Anthony Joshua, Tom Stalker, Luke Campbell and Andrew Selby, having already sealed their places.
Four years ago Herts hitter Saunders was in the same boat when he defeated Pavol Hlavacka for a bronze medal to seal his Olympic spot and he is now encouraging his fellow Brits to take the opportunity of a life time.
“To be a world champion is life changing. It will open doors for them and show that they do have the pedigree to one day turn pro,” said Saunders.
“Winning the tournament is the best you can do. It will be a great negotiating point in their futures.”
The Hatfield-based southpaw believes fighting on newly-launched BoxNation will provide an added incentive for the amateur fighters taking part this week,=.
“They will be getting the support of the British fans just under a year before the games,” Saunders added.
“It is a massive opportunity, getting the exposure on BoxNation now can only be good.”
Saunders, who will be challenging for the Southern Area title next month, went on to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games as the youngest representative at the age of 18 before turning pro with Frank Warren.
The talented traveller told how he did not expect to be in the position that he is in today.
“No way that four years ago I thought I would be a pro competing for titles, after the Olympics was the time I thought I would, so it really is a big year for the guys in contention.”
Liverpool fighter Stalker became to first British boxer to qualify for the 2012 Olympic games and Saunders told how he expected the fighter to do so years ago when they both toured Bulgaria while the 22-year-old was an amateur.
“I really rate Tom Stalker, highly, he was always a trier and gave 110 per cent,” added Billy Joe.
“I said to him once to never give up and look where he is now. Khalid Yafai is another one who I expect to see progress.”
Saunders is coming to the end of a training camp in and continues his preparation when he takes to the ring for an eight-round warm up fight on the under card of Tony Bellew v Nathan Cleverly next Saturday (October 15), before his Southern Area title fight against Gary Boulden on November 5 at Wembley Arena.
Saunders is aiming for the top in the near-future and is expecting nothing but a title win in Wembley next month.
“Training has gone well and I am having a warm up fight this month in preparation for it,” he said.
“I am expecting to win, if I can’t beat him I may as well give up. I am aiming for world titles in the future and to fight amongst the elite.”
Tickets for Saunders v Boulden, priced at £40, £50, £70, £100 and £150, are available on the Wembley Arena Box Office on 0844 815 0815 or click on the link at the top right.