Rocky Fielding and Bradley Saunders are back in action this Saturday at the Ice Arena in Hull, live on Sky Sports, and the unbeaten duo are looking to get vital rounds in the bank ahead of big title shots.
Fielding has endured a tough time with a hand injury ruling him out since his superb five-round demolition job of former World title challenger Noe Gonzalez Alcoba on Merseyside in July.
The 27-year-old meets Olegs Fedetovs over eight rounds in Hull and then boxes again in Leeds in April, and the popular Scouser knows he is in line for a massive clash with British champion Paul Smith, after the British Boxing Board of Control ordered the two-time World title challenger to face his hometown rival.
“I am buzzing to get back out there,” said Fielding. “I have had a hard camp and been away in South Africa with Martin Murray and I had lots of sparring over there. Saturday is about getting back in the ring and getting my name back on people’s lips. I am out again in April, so this fight is about getting the rust off, putting a good performance in and moving on to the next one.
“I am waiting on Paul Smith’s decision. I want the fight, and I will take the fight for the British title, or for no belt. It has been talked about for the last 12-18 months. Back then, I was honest and said I wasn’t ready for the step up 18 months ago but I have had a good fight since, improved and matured, and I am ready for Paul. He has just gone 24 rounds with a World Champion for the World title so that would be a good fight for me this summer.
“I don’t what the situation is but I am not dwelling on it. If I get the phone call to fight Paul, I will take it. It is a big fight for Liverpool, and a lot of people are asking me about it. He is World class, but I am ranked in the top 15 with three governing bodies. I can’t see myself as a domestic fighter, and I don’t think Paul is coming back down to the domestic level if he fights me.
“If I spoke to Paul now I’d say well done on his performances for the World title, he showed a good heart and performed well and I respect him for that. The fight with us would be a good payday for him, it is a fight everyone in Liverpool wants to see, and it would sell out the Echo Arena. Let’s make it happen, it is up to him, I am ready and game to fight if he is.”
Saunders challenges Dave Ryan for the Commonwealth Light Welterweight title on April 11 at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, and fight fans from the north east have snapped up tickets for the event in their droves as big-time boxing lands in Newcastle with a bang.
The 29-year-old destroyed Ville Piispanen in the same venue in June inside the first round to make a huge statement but this time he will be the main act – ably supported by the likes of Anthony Joshua MBE – and he knows he has to be at his best to take the title from Ryan, the Derby man that upset Tyrone Nurse to land the belt in Leeds in October.
“I can’t wait for the fight with Ryan,” said Saunders. “We’ve sold 60-odd grand’s worth of tickets already – it’s going to be massive, but Saturday is really important to dust off any ring-rust – I need it for the fight against Dave.
“It’s a 50-50 fight in my book. He’s a lot more pro experience than me, and he’s beaten better fighters than I’ve boxed. Dave put Nurse down twice, and he’s beaten Paul McCloskey, who challenged for Amir Khan’s world title. I wanted to beat McCloskey as well but sadly he pulled out injured.
“It’s the biggest step up of my career. The man has beaten better people than I’ve boxed, so it’s a massive, massive fight but I’m on track. It would mean the world to me, and the fans know it – I did 2,000 tickets the first day they went on sale. I wouldn’t like to say how many other thousands have gone, and it’s nice to have the north east behind me.”
The task in front of him, this weekend is Frenchman Stephane Benito and Saunders has a new man in the corner in Salford trainer Oliver Harrison – and has tipped his new boss to take him to the top.
“Oliver is second to none,” said Saunders. “He’s worked with the likes of Amir Khan and Martin Murray and he’s a proven world-class coach. I am at a level now where the little tweaks and the little changes you make are all the difference at the top, top level. Working with Oliver is the step that I need to reach my peak.
“I stayed in the gym over Christmas, so I am 100 per cent ready for the fight with Dave, but Saturday gives me the chance to work on a few things.
“This time next year I expect to be knocking on the door of a World title, that’s realistic. I’ve been in with some good names, and I have done my job with ease. I don’t know much about Benito, to be honest; I’ll just leave that to Oliver, and I’ll do whatever he feels I should.
“I’m a lot better than I was in the last fight. I’m fitter and I’m used to Oliver now, so this is like the first step of many, hopefully. People will get a shock when they watch me, they will see an even better Bradley Saunders.”
Fielding and Saunders are part of a huge night of boxing in Hull topped by local favourite Tommy Coyle taking on Martin Gethin, while Olympic gold medal hero Luke Campbell MBE returns to the line-up after initially pulling out due to the ill health of his father.
Rising Stourbridge star Sam Eggington challenges Shayne Singleton for the WBC International Silver Welterweight title, Birmingham’s young Featherweight blaster Gamal Yafai is in action alongside a quintet of local talents Tom Knight, who faces Erick Ochieng over eight-rounds at Welterweight, Nathon Smith, Charlie Payton, Connor Seymour and Ryan Fuller.