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Billy Joe Saunders decisions Willie Monroe Jr., could get GGG-Canelo winner next

LONDON -- Billy Joe Saunders put himself in the frame for a world title unification clash after an unspectacular but unanimous points win over Willie Monroe Jr. on Saturday night.

Having spent the build-up to his second defence claiming he had never been so motivated, Saunders delivered when it mattered as he triumphed by scores of 117-111, 115-114 and 117-112 at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Billy Joe Saunders could see the winner of GGG-Canelo after his win on Saturday. Scott Heavey/Getty Images
A shot at the winner of the clash between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez, taking place later the same night, now beckons for Saunders after a second successful defence of his WBO world middleweight title.

There was not a lot of excitement and it may not have been a performance to send out a warning to either Golovkin or Canelo, but Saunders got the job done. He was also helped by a disappointingly unambitious Monroe.

"I felt a bit ring rusty in there but I want to thank everyone for the opportunity," said Saunders.

There were gaps in the 7,000 capacity venue -- used for handball during the 2012 Olympics -- by the time of the first bell at nearly midnight.

But there will be considerably more interest in Saunders' next fight should it be against the winner of the more significant fight between Golovkin and Canelo, which started a few hours later in Las Vegas for Golovkin's three versions of the world middleweight title.

Monroe laughed off being hit between the legs by Saunders' eight-year-old son Stevie at Friday's weigh-in and seemed keen to avoid too much of an argument in the ring with Saunders.

Monroe, who had not fought for a year, failed to sustain any pressure in his second world title shot after being stopped in six rounds by Golovkin two years ago. Saunders made an energetic, although hardly sparkling, start and caught up with Monroe at the end of the third round.

Saunders caught Monroe flush with a right just before the bell at the end of the third after roughing up the American on the ropes with a series of lefts.

The English boxer was briefly concerned when he was cut above his right eye at the start of the fourth round after a clash of heads.

Monroe, whose wife gave birth to a daughter back home in New York four days ago, landed his best shot of the fight in the fifth round, a big left to the side of the head, but Saunders returned fire with a good left hook of his own later in the round.

There was fighting in the crowd during the sixth round, while in the ring Saunders continued to be the busier and craftier boxer. Saunders landed a quick left after a break in the sixth round and it was baffling why Monroe was not more aggressive and trying to force the pace.

Monroe continued to wait for the moment to pounce while Saunders failed to establish any rhythm or get his jab working to good effect.

It was ugly at times, but Saunders landed an impressive left on the counter in the eighth as the challenger failed to threaten the champion even in the last few rounds when he needed a stoppage to win.

Afterwards, Saunders asked his son Stevie to apologise to Monroe.

"Sorry for punching you in the nuts," he said.

Monroe must have been left regretting not taking as many risks as Saunders was allowed to prevail with a display that was far from polished.

On the undercard, Anthony Yarde delivered a punishing beating to force Norbert Nemesapati's corner to pull him out of their light-heavyweight contest.

Yarde (13-0, 12 KOs) will soon be appearing on the world governing body's top ten rankings at this rate after he floored his Hungarian opponent twice in the second round.

The 26-year-old first decked Nemesapati (25-7, 18 KOs) with a series of clubbing right hands, then nailed him a vicious right hook for another count.

But Nemesapati bravely got up to complete the round and absorb more blows in the third before his corner mercifully pulled him out of the fight at the end of the round.

English heavyweight Daniel Dubois continues to look a potential star after claiming his fifth successive knockout victim in a 48-second win.

Dubois (5-0, 5 KOs) knocked out fellow Londoner AJ Carter (8-4, 6 KOs) in the first round. Carter had already been floored twice before being caught by a sickening right cross and was left on the canvas for a number of minutes receiving treatment with an oxygen mask.

The 20-year-old from Greenwich, is a frightening talent and his promoter Frank Warren has high hopes for him.

"I think he punches harder than any British heavyweight I've ever seen," said Warren. "We're talking harder than Anthony Joshua, Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, all of them.

"In terms of potential, I think he's in front of anyone I've ever had.

"I think he's in front of all of them at this stage of his career, he could win the British title tomorrow."

Author: Nick Parkinson, ESPN
Source: http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/20727445/billy-joe-saunders-unanimous-win-willie-monroe-jr

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