Saunders retains WBO middleweight title in points decision

LONDON (AP) Billy Joe Saunders remained on course to challenge either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez after Saunders defended his WBO middleweight title with a unanimous points decision over American Willie Monroe Jr. on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Saunders, (25-0, 12 knockouts) was fighting for the first time under new trainer Dominic Ingle. He received scores of 117-111, 115-114, 117-112 from the three ringside judges.

Saunders had been tipped to face the winner of the Las Vegas fight, but Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a 12-round draw with Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters holding their hands aloft in victory. There is already talk of a rematch.

In London, it was Saunders’ superior sharpness and intent as much as his skills that secured his latest victory. Leading with the jab and also succeeding to Monroe’s body, Saunders began with a typically fast pace and faced little more than jabs in return.

In the third round an accurate right uppercut hurt his challenger, and it was only when a cut opened by the bridge of his nose following an accidental clash of heads in the fourth that the American temporarily fought with greater belief.

Monroe’s record fell to 21-3, with six knockouts.

Promising heavyweight Daniel Dubois had earlier earned his fifth victory from five when stopping A.J. Carter in only 48 seconds. Carter required oxygen and was immediately sent to hospital, having been knocked down three times.