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Billy Joe Saunders aiming to impress in US debut

The 168-pound titleholder makes his first defense in a month.

Matchroom New Signing Press Conference - Glaziers Hall Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Billy Joe Saunders is set to return on Nov. 9, defending the WBO super middleweight title against Marcelo Esteban Coceres, part of the DAZN card featuring the novelty fight between YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul in Los Angeles.

The fight will be the US debut for Saunders (28-0, 13 KO), the 30-year-old former middleweight titleholder, who signed with Matchroom in August.

“I’m really looking forward to fighting in LA and making my professional American debut and my first fight under the Matchroom umbrella on DAZN and Sky Sports,” said Saunders. “Marcelo Esteban Coceres is a tough, world-class operator, an unbeaten fighter and I certainly feel the pressure to outperform him and look good on such a massive platform. Training is going very well, I just have to stay focused and get the job done.”

Saunders and Matchroom will obviously be doing their best to sell Coceres, who is unbeaten at 28-0-1 (15 KO), but has never fought outside of Argentina and has never faced anyone near the world level. BoxRec have him ranked No. 42 in the world at 160 pounds.

Promoter Eddie Hearn is hoping that Saunders will get into the mix for bigger fights next year.

“I can’t wait to see Billy Joe shine stateside and what a huge platform to do it,” said Hearn. “He is right in the mix for all the big fights in 2020 but he can’t slip up here and if he can make a statement against Coceres then I truly believe he will land a monster in the first half of next year.”

Ideal big fights for Saunders could include a 168-pound unification with Callum Smith, big fights with DAZN stars Canelo Alvarez or Gennadiy Golovkin at 160 or 168, or a possible move back down to 160 to face Demetrius Andrade, whom Saunders was supposed to fight in 2018 before failing a drug test and giving up the WBO middleweight title, which Andrade still holds.