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Saunders to defend belt vs. Monroe in London

From ESPN - July 17, 2017

Middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders will make his second defense against Willie Monroe Jr., promoter Frank Warren announced at a news conference on Monday in London.

Saunders and Monroe will square off Sept. 16 at the Copper Box Arena in London. The fight will take place just hours before the mega middleweight world title fight between unified champion Gennady Golovkin and former champion Canelo Alvarez, who meet at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, setting the winners up for a potential four-belt unification fight.

"Bill will have to be at the very top of his game to get the win on Sept. 16," Warren said. "The winner of this fight will have the missing piece on the middleweight jigsaw [puzzle]. Canelo and Golovkin both want that WBO belt. If Bill comes through this fight, we are pushing hard for the winner of Canelo versus Golovkin."

If Golovkin wins, Warren said he hoped Saunders could fight him in December. If Alvarez wins, the fight could be in January.

Saunders was due to defend against then-interim titlist Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) in a mandatory fight on July 8 before the bout was canceled in June. Khurtsidze was arrested by federal authorities for his alleged role in a New York-based Russian crime syndicate allegedly involved in racketeering, robbery and murder for hire, among other illicit activity.

Khurtsidze, who is incarcerated and awaiting trial, was stripped of his interim belt, and Saunders was allowed to proceed with an optional defense. Monroe, a 30-year-old southpaw from Rochester, New York, got the call.

"Willie is a good fighter and a good boxer," Saunders said. "This is his big chance, and he is not coming over here just to make up the numbers. He has been in with some of the best fighters in the world, including Golovkin where he came up short.

"I think it is going to be a very close fight, but I already have the mental edge over him. He said he was done against Golovkin, and that's not what a warrior would do. I'd rather get knocked out cold than quit. I have not had the chance to show my true skill and talent as of yet as a pro. I ca not afford to overlook him, and I will be in the best shape of my life on Sept. 16. I am 100 percent going to get the win."

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