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Saunders vs Akavov: Fight preview and matchup

Billy Joe Saunders finally defends his middleweight belt this weekend.

Billy Joe Saunders Press Conference Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Billy Joe Saunders vs Artur Akavov

Billy Joe Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders Media Work-Out Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Record: 23-0 (12 KO) ... Streak: W23 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / N/A" ... Age: 27

Notes: Saunders has always come across to me as a talented boxer with limits to how high he can really go. He always had the ability to claim a world title with the right matchup on the right night, and he did so last December 19, dominating early and then surviving Andy Lee down the stretch to claim the WBO belt in Manchester.

Saunders’ 2016 has been a mess. He turned down Gennady Golovkin despite what was reported as a career-high payday offer, which drew some criticism that he didn’t take very well. (He now says GGG is the target.)

Max Bursak was the scheduled opponent in the spring. That fight didn’t happen, and was never rescheduled, which is fair enough since nobody cared. Then we went to Akavov, a potentially even worse opponent, and this is the third fight date they’ve had, as if it’s a fight of real consequence beyond getting Saunders back in action.

On paper, Saunders wipes this guy out. It will depend on what Akavov has to offer, and if perhaps Billy Joe is (A) rusty and/or (B) totally overlooks this guy.

Artur Akavov

DiBella Entertainment

Record: 16-1 (7 KO) ... Streak: W11 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5’9½" / N/A ... Age: 30

Notes: Akavov is a Russian fighter now living in Beverly Hills. He has also never beaten anyone of consequence, never even fought anyone of consequence, doesn’t even have an undefeated record for Steve Bunce to insincerely tout on BoxNation, and really has no business in a world title fight, if we’re being completely honest.

Seriously, take a gander at his BoxRec page. There’s nothing here. His loss came back in 2012 against a fighter named Oleg Liseev where he was dropped and lost a point for holding later.

Matchup Grade: D. The only reason I’m not going F is the off chance that Akavov surprises us. I don’t want to be disrespectful of his potential skills, because I really have no idea what they might be. Maybe he’s a lot better than we know. Maybe that loss he took was “the best thing that ever happened to him,” and woke him up and made him work harder. No clue. But on paper, Saunders outclasses him, and this is a garbage world title fight.

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