At today’s press conference, Frank Warren announced that there will be three world title fights on a packed bill set for October 10th in Manchester.
The bill will be topped by the mouthwatering clash between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO world middleweight title and the undercard will feature Terry Flanagan’s first defence of his WBO world lightweight title against mandatory challenger Diego Magdaleno and Liam Smith’s first world title shot against Michael Soro for the vacant WBO super welterweight title. Also on the packed undercard will be Luke Blackledge against Lee Markham for the super middleweight Commonwealth title, Adrain Gonzalez against Jon Kays for the vacant WBO European super-featherweight title, as well as action for Liam Walsh, Jack Catterall, Jimmy kelly and Thomas Stalker.
Andy Lee vs Billy Joe Saunders will headline this huge card in Manchester, and both men are eager to get in the ring and prove who is the best middleweight in Britain and Ireland. InstantBoxing.com’s Luke Madeira spoke to Saunders today at the press conference and here is what he had to say:
First of all, now that the fight has been moved, has your training schedule been disrupted or are you on track?
No I’m on course. Everything is on course for where I want to be at the minute. I think that everything was on course before this fight got put back, now its just a matter of resting up for a couple of days which I’ve done and just regrouping again next week and starting again. As I say nothing is really going to put me off this fight. My minds still on it, my heads still focused and I’ve got more added spice now its in England.
How has training been going so far?
Its been A class. I couldn’t ask for anything to have gone better. I’ve just got back from the MGM (Macklin’s Gym Marbella) three or four days ago. You know, it’s nice to see the kids as well, its been a little treat but next week it starts again. Fortunately its going to be a good night in Manchester that night, I know they back their fighters extremely well, and I’m hoping they take me in as one of their own that night.
Now the fight is in Manchester, does that give you a little bit extra going into the fight?
Yes, definitely. He’s flying the flag for Ireland and I’m flying the flag for England. Obviously Manchester’s in England, and I’m not just doing this for Hatfield now, I’m doing it for Manchester and the whole of England. It’s one of them things that they need to get behind not just me but all of the fighters from up here and cheer them all the way to the finishing line.
Finally, how do you see the fight going?
I think the fights going to be a good fight, its going to be hearty at times, we’re both going to be tested, but I’m extremely confident. I have never been so confident of winning in my life.
Also on the bill is Terry Flanagan, defending his WBO world title for the first time. Here is what he had to say about the fight:
First of all, how does it feel to finally have your hands on that world title belt?
It feels great to be able to hold this belt and to be able to show it to everyone and to say I’m a world champion. To have it in my house, it’s unreal.
How much do you know about your next opponent, Diego Magdaleno?
From what I’ve seen of him, he looks very good. I’ve not seen much of him to be honest, I leave that down to my training, but from what I know he’s a very good fighter. He’s a southpaw like myself, he can punch, and it’s going to be a great fight.
How are you finding training at the moment?
It’s going well. I’ve only been back in the gym now for two weeks and I already feel fit and ready. In eight weeks time I am going to be in the best shape of my life, the biggest and strongest I’ve ever been.
How do you see the fight going?
It’s going to be a great fight, and hopefully it’s gong to be a stoppage win for myself. I’ve stopped eight out of my last eleven opponents, and I’ve only got eleven stoppages so it says a lot about how my punching power is coming along.
The third world title fight on the bill sees Liam Smith face Michael Soro for the WBO world title and Smith had a lot to say about Soro.
Now that you’ve got your world title shot, are you looking to vacate the British title or not?
No I’m not vacating it. I don’t know what the situation is whether I’ve got a mandatory or not. I’m not sure a deal can be done so that Kris Carslaw can wait but if I was to go and lose to Michael Soro then I would come back down to British level and fight Kris Carslaw. If I had to I would give it up because I am one hundred percent confident I will win the world title.
You said you’ve sparred with Soro before, how much do you know about him?
Yeah I’ve sparred him and I know him well. He’s a nice lad and a very good fighter with some very good wins. His only loss has been for the WBO title a couple of years back when he was a prospect coming up. I’m fully aware about what he is going to bring and I’ll be ready for it.
Was the spar recently?
It was a year ago. It was last year just before I boxed Jason Welborn at the Manchester arena.
What’s it like training with Joe Gallagher? Are you enjoying it?
Yes it’s great. I couldn’t ask for anymore off him. He gives all the time I need off him to me. He the same with all of the lads and thats why all the lads are confident of winning every time they fight because he won’t leave any stone unturned with us, whether it be tactics, whether it be training or whether it be mentally. We just know as a team, we are all good together.
How do you see the fight going?
I think it will be tough early on, but I just think my fitness, toughness and mentality will take over later. I’ll see how he is down the stretch but I may get a late stoppage.
Although he doesn’t have an opponent yet, hot prospect Jack Catterall will be fighting on the bill and looking for a step up in opponent. Here is what he had to say:
Another big bill for you, is this the biggest one you’ve been on yet?
Yes definitely. Three world title fights on the bill so it should be a brilliant night of boxing back in Manchester.
You’ve looked very good in your career so far, are you looking to start stepping up opponents now?
Yes, I never really focus on who I’m fighting too much, I just focus on training hard and living right. Whoever Frank and Lee want me to fight then I’ll go with that.
How are you finding training?
I’m enjoying training. It’s good training with Lee. We do different things every day, nothing is ever set in stone. We get away for some training camps in America and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve got.
Where do you see yourself in a years time from now?
I never look that far ahead. My main focus now is October 10th and then from there I can look ahead. With boxing that many things change I don’t think you can look that far ahead.
This show is the first one in Manchester for a while that will really get heads turning and should sell out very quickly. With three world title fights and an undercard packed with exciting talent, there is nothing not to like about this card.
By Luke Madeira, follow Luke on Twitter @lukemadeira15