Billy Joe Saunders Retains WBO Super Middleweight Title
WBO Super Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) dominated grizzled vet and former middleweight world title challenger Martin Murray (39-6-1, 27 KOs) en route to a unanimous decision (120-109, 120-109, 118-110) victory at the Wembley Arena in London, England.
Saunders is, first and foremost, a boxer who likes to establish the jab and prefers his opponent to come forward. And it was jabs and foot-movement that the champion used to set the tempo during the early rounds of the fight.
Because he was facing a skilled mover, Murray had no choice but to fight on the front foot. The problem was that his forward movement was not accompanied by a high-volume punch-rate. Therefore, Saunders was able to get into a rhythm early, building a comfortable lead during the first three rounds.
Saunders began to sit down on his punches in the fourth and landed hard southpaw left-hands and right hooks. Late in the round, he seemed to hurt Murray with a right hook around the guard that seemed to be a knockdown. However, referee Phil Edwards ruled that Murray went down from a slip.
OUT-SCHOOLED AND OUTCLASSED
At this point, you could sense that Saunders was sautéing his opponent. At 38-years-old, Murray was showing his age and had the look of a fighter who was resigned to defeat.
The pattern that was established by the champ in the early rounds continued throughout the middle rounds. Saunders continued to pop Murray with the jab, then get off with combinations to the head and body. Things got a bit rough in the eighth, as both men were warned for low blows by the referee. Other than that, Saunders continued to dominate at will.
Midway through the ninth, Murray was cooked, glazed, and ready to be sliced. Saunders could sense a possible stoppage. Smelling blood, the champion was fighting on the front foot landing hard and hurtful body punches that had Murray in much distress. In the late rounds, it was just a case of Murray surviving on toughness and will. He was getting hit with every punch in the book. Kudos to him for lasting the distance. However, the second half of the fight was him taking a beating.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Making the second defense of the WBO 168-pound world title, Saunders was in much better form than his previous fight in which he struggled to an 11th round stoppage win over Marcelo Coceres in November 2019.
Accompanied by his promoter, Eddie Hearn, during the post-fight interview, Saunders stated he is ready for any super middleweight in the world. They hope that the opponent is against the likes of WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs), WBA ‘Super’ World Super Middleweight belt-holder Callum Smith (29-0, 17 KOs), or WBO World Middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs) at 168.
With this being his fifth world title attempt, Murray was asked if this was the end? While not officially announcing his retirement and stating he wants to spend some time with his family, he did concede this could very well be the end of his fighting career.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.