Billy Joe Saunders ready to shake up British middleweight scene

Last Updated: 24/01/14 3:40pm

Ed and Johnny are joined by Billy Joe Saunders and Frankie Gavin for this week¿s Ringside Extra.

Billy Joe Saunders is ready to fill the gap left behind by the retired Darren Barker.

The British and Commonwealth champion had the former world champion down as the best of the British middleweight bunch until he called it quits a few weeks ago.

"I have got my head down for these last four years and really put some work in and now I am tapping on the door."

Billy Joe Saunders

It leaves Martin Murray, Andy Lee and Matthew Macklin as the leading lights looking for a fourth member of the so-called elite group that want to get it on and sort out their grudges in the ring.

Saunders insists they do not have to look far to fill the void left by Barker, but warned that he will soon take over the number one slot, as well.

"You see people fighting for the world title and achieving big things and we're all in this game to be a world champion and now Darren Barker is out of there, there is another slot and a step closer to them," he told Ringside Extra.

"I know if the fight was made - against all three - Jimmy (Tibbs) wouldn't have a problem with it. And nor would I.

"I genuinely look at them and know I can beat any of them.

"Who's the best? I would've said Darren Barker because he was much fresher on his feet and much fresher skill-wise. Murray is a come-forward fighter in your face and Macklin is also in your face - and I love that!

"Now, I like Murray because he is the fresher and hasn't had as many fights as the others."

Mature

Murray was expecting a third crack at a world title himself but Saunders believes his chance has fallen through, while Macklin is being linked with his second attempt to dethrone Fleix Sturm, who won his IBF title back off Barker.

Lee, who has been based in America and was trained by the one and only Emanuel Steward before his sad death, is now with Adam Booth and believes an 'all-Irish' showdown with Macklin will get the British middleweight scene buzzing again.

Saunders is 19-0 and is already the WBO International belt holder, with the world scene moving closer and closer, fight by fight.

He suggested there might already be a world-title eliminator coming his way before the year is out.

Ed and Johnny are joined by Billy Joe Saunders and Frankie Gavin for this week¿s Ringside Extra.

"I'm 24 but I am a mature 24," he said. "I qualified for the Olympics when I was 18 and people didn't think I was going to do it, but I did.

"I have got my head down for these last four years and really put some work in and now I am tapping on the door to them.

"I sparred with Darren Barker a few years ago. I've sparred with George Groves, sparred with James DeGale and you look at it and think and know you are holding your own.

"I have come in leaps and bounds since then."