Billy Joe Saunders is set to begin light training over the next few weeks before continuing talks with promoters about his ring return.
The former two-weight world champion has been out of the sport since Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez handed him his first career defeat in May of 2021. An eighth round stoppage saw Saunders leave the ring with multiple fractures to his eye socket.
Rumours of a return have ramped up recently, and Saunders explained to IFL TV that a family bereavement has pushed things back a bit.
“I was meant to fly away two weeks ago to start a little bit of training … when you ain’t got a date it’s hard. But I lost my nan two weeks ago now, she gets buried next week, and then I’m flying away then, just poodle around, drop some weight, look at a few names and opponents, and see where we go.”
Talk will now move to an opponent. Late last year, many assumed Saunders would return to face Chris Eubank Jr – whom he beat via decision in 2014. If it ever was the plan, it’s up in the air now after Eubank lost to Liverpool’s Liam Smith.
Asked if there was an incentive to return to the ring in order to make the rematch, Saunders said no, unless “he comes back and stops Liam Smith in one round and looks sensational doing it.”
Smith of course stopped Eubank Jr in the fourth round of their January contest, and it’s the winner ‘BJS’ has his eye on.
“If they said ‘do you want to face anyone’ I’d rather face Liam Smith first fight back.”
“Of course, he’s won. You gotta give him the credit. Forget about the biggest fight. Sometimes, it’s all right to just grab the money, but thank god I’m okay. I can feed my family.
It’s about, for me, to get in the ring with somebody who’s obviously going to bring something to the table where I question myself and think I’ve got to be on my game.
Liam Smith, I got to be on my game. Eubank, looking at that, have I got to be on my game? No. You haven’t got to be on your game.”
With Smith and Eubank now set to have a rematch of their own, the question that remains is whether or not Saunders will spend that time training, or if he’ll go for a more low-key return in the interim.