Billy Joe Saunders heads to the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night as he looks to make a big statement in his first WBO world super middleweight title defence against unbeaten Marcelo Esteban Coceres.


Saunders aiming to make impact in USA

Saunders makes his American debut this weekend and the unbeaten British boxer is focused on delivering an eye-catching performance on the big stage.

The Hatfield fighter has a professional record of 28 victories, although only 13 of these have come inside the distance.

Saunders is an exceptional technician in the ring but his talent appears to have resulted in big name boxers avoiding him.

The 30-year-old is approaching his peak years and has targeted a fight against Canelo Alvarez after the Mexican’s stoppage win against Sergey Kovalev last weekend.

Saunders has talked up a contest against Canelo or Gennady Golovkin for a number of years but it has failed to materialise. Perhaps his new exposure in America could be the key in setting up a huge fight next year against one of these superstar boxers.


A rematch against Chris Eubank Jr could be another possibility after Saunders defeated his fierce rival, via a split decision, five years ago.

Saunders won his first world title in 2015, defeating Andy Lee by majority decision to claim the WBO middleweight championship.

Arguably the best performance of his career came at the end of 2017 with Saunders producing an outstanding display to overcome dangerous David Lemieux by unanimous decision in Canada.

But Saunders was forced to vacate the title last year, after being refused a licence to fight Demetrius Andrade, after returning an adverse finding in a voluntary anti-doping association test.

After this major setback, Saunders returned to the ring and won his second world title by claiming the vacant WBO super middleweight belt. He was far too slick for Shefat Isufi, earning a unanimous points win in Stevenage in May.


Unbeaten Coceres no pushover

Coceres is known as ‘El Terrible’ and the Argentina boxer will be aiming to make this a miserable American debut for Saunders.

The 28-year-old warrants respect, with a professional record of 28 wins, 15 by knockout, with one draw.

Most of his fights have come in South America against unheralded opponents and this marks a significant step up for the challenger.


Saunders v Coceres: The verdict

Saunders is a tremendous boxer and the skilled southpaw is an unbackable 1/100 to win this weekend. Coceres is a dismissive 20/1 shot and it is very difficult to anticipate an upset in this bout.

The world champion should come through this and it is only 4/11 for Saunders to win by KO, TKO or disqualification.

This does not appeal though and it is worth taking a chance on Saunders going the distance with a points victory at 2/1.

Saunders is not an explosive puncher and only has a 46.43 per cent knockout record. His fast hands and movement bewilder opponents but he is not known for destructive power. Five of his last six fights have gone the distance.

Coceres has never been stopped and could prove a game opponent, suggesting the best bet is to back Saunders to saunter to a wide victory on the scorecards.


KSI v Logan Paul

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 07: KSI (L) and Logan Paul face off onstage while promoter Eddie Hearn (C) looks on during the KSI VS. Logan Paul 2 - Final Press Conference at TAO Hollywood on November 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Saunders does not headline Saturday’s PPV bill though with YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul’s rematch, in their professional debuts, topping the card.

The social media celebrities fought last year in Manchester, with head guards on, as their bout predictably ended in a draw.

This result set up the hyped rematch in LA which is aimed at attracting a new, younger audience to the sport.

American Paul is the 4/7 favourite although a better bet, in a potentially cagey encounter, is to back the six-rounder against London YouTube star KSI to go the distance.

Saunders to win by decision or technical decision

KSI v Logan Paul to go the distance

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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