Billy Joe Saunders 'embarrassed' by performance vs. Artur Akavov

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Billy Joe Saunders was "embarrassed" by the first defence of his WBO world middleweight title on Saturday.

The Briton seemed fortunate to earn a unanimous points decision -- 116-113, 116-112 and 115-113 -- over Russian Artur Akavov at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley, Scotland.

Saunders, 27, admitted he had underperformed and claimed pre-fight that he wants bouts against Gennady Golovkin and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in 2017.

"I'd like to apologise to the fans especially those who have paid for it, it was a terrible performance," Saunders said. "I'm honest man. That was terrible. A win's a win.

"I've been out a year, a bit overweight. A few adjustments to camp. Just flat, really, really flat. I've called Golovkin out, but on that performance I want to be embarrassed."

Saunders won the WBO belt on points from Irishman Andy Lee almost a year ago. He then turned down an offer to fight Golovkin, a rematch with Chris Eubank failed to happen, a hand injury ruled out a fight against Ukraine's Max Bursak before two more postponements of Saunders' first defence.

Perhaps ring rust was a factor as New York-based Akavov was certainly busier and seemed to be ahead at the halfway point. Saunders wants to make amends with a quick ring return in 2017 to try and put himself back in contention for money-spinning fights against the likes of Triple G and Canelo.

"I have got to go back, adjust, and New Year I want a big fight to put that right because that's not acceptable," Saunders added.

Saunders did not explain why experienced trainer Jimmy Tibbs was not in his corner.

"I'm not making a comment about Jimmy, but after this fight I have got to go back down and sit and have a chat man-to-man," Saunders said.

"You could put who you want in that corner tonight and they couldn't have helped. I stopped sparring for this fight four, five weeks out for certain reasons."