Saunders “Embarassed” By First Title Defense
WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders has been calling out Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, but his last performance showed a fighter that is far from capable of hanging with those opponents. Saunders won a razor-thin decision over unheralded Artur Akavov on Saturday, looking as ordinary as a champion can in the process.
After the bout, 27-year-old Saunders was apologetic for his lackluster performance.
"I’d like to apologise to the fans especially those who have paid for it, it was a terrible performance," Saunders said, per ESPN. "I’m honest man. That was terrible. A win’s a win.
"I’ve been out a year, a bit overweight. A few adjustments to camp. Just flat, really, really flat. I’ve called Golovkin out, but on that performance I want to be embarrassed."
Saunders was not overstating the disappointing performance he put on; throughout the bout’s 12 rounds, Saunders was unable to pull away from a contender that was by all accounts an easy win. Saunders has been calling out the other middleweight champion, top 5 pound-for-pound fighter Gennady Golovkin, but his showing on Saturday would left no one believing he could pose a threat to GGG.
The British boxer pointed to ring rust as a potential reason for his poor performance — He has been inactive since winning the WBO title from Andy Lee last December. During that year away, Saunders reportedly turned down a fight with Golovkin and withdrew from other fights due to injury.
"I have got to go back, adjust, and New Year I want a big fight to put that right because that’s not acceptable," Saunders said.