Bradley Saunders talks to Livefight “I’m not calling anyone out I can adapt to beat any opponent”
By Michael J Jones
Fresh off another impressive stoppage victory last week, Sedgefield’s undefeated Bradley Saunders is looking ahead to the New Year as he seeks to make his mark in boxing. After an eight-month break to correct a troublesome hand injury, the light-welterweight prospect returned in July and has now won three bouts inside schedule in just four months.
Now 8-0 (6), the former amateur stand-out has many fans and experts tipping him to be British boxing’s next big star on the world stage after some hard-hitting performances. Saunders seems able to do it all in the ring and has been clinical in his contests so far, easily dismantling several men known previously for their durability.
Just over a week ago, the promising puncher broke down young Hungarian opponent Gyorgy Mizsei in four rounds in his first outing on home territory in a decade. The bout took place at the Gateshead Leisure Centre, Tyne-and-wear in front a passionate local crowd and the local hero didn’t disappoint, dropping his foe three times in the concluding round with hard body-shots.
“He took some very big shots in the first few rounds so I thought I was in for a long night” Bradley tells Livefight just days after his eighth victory. “He kept taking the punches through the second but I started getting to him in the third…in the fourth he’d had enough.”
Mizsei was a late replacement for Poland’s KrzystofSzot (who pulled out to take on Scotty Cardle the following night). The Hungarian stand-in was no slouch at 16-7 (10) coming in and had been the distance with Thomas Stalker as well as sharing a ring with former world champion Scott Harrison.
“It doesn’t bother me” comments Saunders about the late-change of opponent. “I’m used to it from the amateurs, always having the opponent change at last minute. You couldn’t ever plan anything (tactically) but I know I can adapt to any style. I know what I need to do in there.”
The bout last week marked the first time in ten years the 27-year-old had been able to box on home turf in what must have been a special night for him and the home crowd.
“It was definitely special…I’ve boxed on some huge shows since turning pro all around the UK in front of ten or fifteen thousand fans but I tell you; at that show in the North East...there were 1500 people there in the crowd, there wasn’t one person who didn’t stand up and applaud me, not one person who didn’t clap and cheer at my victory and none who didn’t congratulate me afterwards. It was amazing.”
Might there be a British title fight there down the line?
“I don’t like making any predictions, Darren Hamilton (the British champion) is very good at what he does and I’m not going to call him out but I do want to fight for a title at home. There was a very good crowd there (last week) and it’s only going to get better.”
For the first half of this year, the former European and Commonwealth amateur champion was left on the side-lines while his left hand healed following surgery. Since his return in July however, Saunders has left Michael Kelly, Gareth Heard and Mizsei in unceremonious heaps proving his hand problems are well and truly behind him.
“Next year I hope to be kept as busy as these last four months” says the Sedgefield prospect. “People say all sorts about (Saunders’ manager and promoter) Frank Warren but he’s been brilliant with me and has kept me as busy as possible.”
“If I could fight at least six times next year that would be fantastic.”
Many had suggested the 5’10” Saunders could be struggling to stay at the light-welterweight limit but he scaled just 10st 1lb last time out for the Mizsei knock-out. Does he struggle at all?
“For my last fight I weighed in at 9st 13lbs the morning of the fight. I had breakfast before the weigh in so scaled 10st 1lb. Light-welterweight is my division and I’m going to be staying here for the time being. I may move up at some point as I’m big enough but I feel it’s in my best interests to remain here for now.”
Bradley has made several comments since his debut regarding how he never studies other fighters, even ones who he may have to face at some point. There are however, two other undefeated light-welterweight prospects who are also quickly coming through the ranks…
“Me and Tom Stalker will probably never happen” suggests Saunders about his old amateur team-mate. Liverpool’s Stalker also turned pro late after a stellar amateur career and is currently 5-0 in his own campaign.
“I talk to Tom all the time; we’ve been around the world together and did that for eight years. I would never bad mouth him in any way as he’s a good guy. The fight would only ever make sense if we both won major titles and the money on offer was big…down the line it may make sense but for now lets all just build ourselves up like we have been doing.”
Another former amateur star who is making waves in the pros is Welshman Chris Jenkins who is unbeaten in eleven contests and has already won a Prizefighter tournament.
“Chris is a good fighter and another who I went through the amateurs with. We went to the Commonwealth Games together but again, it’s a fight for down the line. We are all with different promoters so let’s wait until the fights are worth more money on a big show in the future.”
Early last year, Saunders turned pro at 26-years-old, in February he will turn 28. I ask if he has a time-frame for his career to span?
“I’ve been boxing for a long time now but I’ve only recently been finding my own style” reasons the unbeaten Bradley who trains at the MGM Marbella gym in Spain. “I’ve been stopping guys who don’t go over easily so have been progressing well but, realistically, I think I’ll continue until I’m about 35.”
There have been some big names in the 140lb ranks over the years but none have come any bigger than Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton. The Manchester body-snatcher had many memorable nights in front of his adoring MEN supporters and is generally known as the biggest star from these shores to have ever graced Saunders’ weight class.
Could the hugely talented Bradley, an excellent body puncher like Hatton, possibly scale the heights that Hatton did in his colourful career?
“Listen, I wouldn’t be in this sport if I didn’t feel I could achieve those heights (that Ricky did). Absolutely no disrespect to Ricky but he didn’t achieve half of what I did in the amateurs. I’d love to have the kind of following he did though. The pedigree is there for me I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
What does Saunders do to relax in between training and fighting?
“I used to like partying in my amateur days but now I just enjoy spending time with my family. I like taking my wife and son out and spoiling them” the confident Northerner tells Livefight.
He intends to move his loved ones out to Spain in the near future as he prepares for the next stage in his promising career. Saunders should be out next in March 8th back in the North East (on the undercard of British cruiserweight champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson’s next title fight).
“I’m going to be ticking over now through Christmas and spending some quality time with my family. I’ll still keep running and light training but in January I’ll be back to training full-time.”
Before our interview comes to an end I ask about two current hot topics in British boxing…
“Amir Khan in my opinion can give Mayweather problems” Suggests Saunders about the much-talked-about contest. “Even before it became a possibility I said if anyone can trouble Floyd Mayweather it’s Khan. Obviously Amir Khan has very fast hands but when everyone says he’s been knocked out it’s been to big punchers and Floyd isn’t a big puncher. He can punch but his fights usually go the distance.”
“If I’m honest Mayweather has a boring style, he just wants to box negatively to shut opponents out.”
And the notorious Froch-Groves stoppage?
“No way that should have been stopped” states Bradley of Froch’s controversial ninth-round win last weekend. “It robbed the public of the fight’s conclusion. Groves had won most of the rounds…my last fight I dropped (Mizsei) heavily and I thought he was finished but he got up twice more before it was stopped. When you think of that and what Groves had taken…...”
Saunders has a final message to his many followers…
“Keep watching as 2014 will be a big year for me.”
You would be advised to take the advice…
You can follow Bradley on Twitter @bradsaunders86
He would also like to thank his team at the MGM Gym Marbella as well as his sponsors for their continued support:-webuyanyhouse.com, Lonsdale and CBL Cable pulling, Heartlepool.
Highlights of Bradley’s last fight-