Middleweight world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders' defense against longtime contender Martin Murray, scheduled for June 23 at the O2 Arena in London, will have live and exclusive coverage on ESPN+ in the United States, ESPN announced on Thursday.
As part of ESPN's deal with Top Rank, the promotional company acquired the American rights to the card for ESPN's new subscription streaming service. This will be the second international event Top Rank has acquired for ESPN+ after Amir Khan's first-round knockout of Phil Lo Greco on April 21.
Coverage of Saunders-Murray will begin at 5 p.m. ET while undercard action will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. Other bouts that will be included are heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois (7-0, 7 KOs), 20, of England, in a 10-round fight against Tom Little (10-5, 3 KOs), 30, of England, and light heavyweight up-and-comer Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14 KOs), 26, of England, against an opponent to be determined also in a 10-rounder.
Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), 28, a southpaw from England, will be making the fourth title defense when he faces countryman Murray (36-4-1, 17 KOs), 35, who will go into the fight 0-3-1 in world title fights at middleweight and super middleweight. He was held to a controversial draw against then-middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in 2011 and lost middleweight world title fights to Sergio Martinez in 2013, Gennady Golovkin in 2015 and a super middleweight title fight to Arthur Abraham later in 2015.
But Murray has won three fights in a row since a unanimous decision loss in June 2016 to George Groves, who went on to win a super middleweight world title.
Saunders and Murray were initially scheduled to fight on April 14 but the fight was postponed when Saunders suffered a hand injury.
Saunders is coming off the most impressive performance of his career. He traveled to Laval, Canada, to face former titlist David Lemieux in his home region on Dec. 16 and turned in a masterpiece in his third title defense as he easily outpointed Lemieux by scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef negotiated the deal to obtain the American rights to the card with promoter Frank Warren.
"Before the fight was postponed, we were going to pick this up for ESPN+," duBoef said. "We think Saunders is in the top three in his division with (unified world champion Gennady) Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. What Saunders did to Lemieux was pretty devastating. He played with him and now he's going back home after that big over Lemieux. We think that it's a terrific offering for ESPN+. Billy Joe Saunders is one of the elite fighters in boxing today, and we're also looking forward to showing the fight with Dubois and Yarde."