A few notes from around the boxing world:
Middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders, idle since winning his belt by majority decision from Any Lee in December and having turned down several fights, is scheduled to make his first defense on the undercard of the Tyson Fury-Wladimir Klitschko rematch on Oct. 29 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, promoter Frank Warren announced on Tuesday. Warren said the opponent for England’s Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) will be either Russia’s Artur Akavov (16-1, 7 KOs) or Rob Brant (21-0, 14 KOs) of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Saunders could have been fighting Saturday on the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith HBO PPV undercard with a guaranteed December big-money fight against Alvarez to follow but turned down several second-tier opponents. He also previously turned down a career payday to unify titles against Gennady Golovkin after calling him out.“We’ll make our decision on the opponent in the next day or so,” Warren said. “Hopefully, we can do it before I fly out to the states for the Liam Smith fight this weekend.”
Former middleweight titleholder Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs), 32, of Ireland, out of action since losing a majority decision and his world title to Saunders in December, took a break after the fight but now is looking to return to the ring. He named unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin and secondary titlist Daniel Jacobs as his targets. Although they have been ordered to fight their mandatory bout against each other next, so it remains to be seen if either will be available before the end of the year. Lee had agreed to face Golovkin in April 2014 but the fight was canceled when Golovkin’s father died.“I have had a bit of a layoff since my last fight, but I want to get back to boxing,” Lee said. “What better way to get back than in a championship fight. I have no qualms about challenging Danny or Gennady or any other top fighter. I am in the business of fighting. That is what I do for a living. As a professional athlete I want to test myself and fight and beat the best. That has been my motivation during my career.”
Unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin’s rousing fifth-round knockout of Kell Brook, whose corner threw in the towel, on Saturday at sold-out O2 Arena in London, averaged 843,000 viewers for the live late afternoon HBO broadcast, according to Nielsen Media Research. The fight peaked at 907,000 viewers. The late-night replay averaged another 593,000 viewers for a total of 1.436 million. The figure for the live airing is similar to HBO’s coverage of Golovkin’s last European fight, a February 2015 knockout of Martin Murray in Monte Carlo. It averaged 862,000 viewers (peak of 938,000) but was not competing against college football.
HBO’s Saturday-night main event between pound-for-pound king and flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, headlining his first HBO card, and Carlos Cuadras at The Forum in Inglewood, California, averaged 833,000 viewers, peaking at 951,000. Gonzalez won a decision to claim a junior bantamweight world title, his fourth belt in as many divisions. The opening bout of the telecast, junior middleweight Yoshihiro Kamegai’s eighth-round knockout of Jesus Soto Karass in a rematch, which was an all-out slugfest, averaged 667,000 viewers and peaked at 767,000.