Billy Joe Saunders to make first title defence against Artur Akavov on October 22
WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) will make his first title defence against Artur Akavov (16-1, 7 KOs) on October 22 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
The Briton dethroned Ireland's Andy Lee on points last December but pulled out of a scheduled defence against Ukrainian Max Bursak in April due to a hand injury.
Now he will fight Russia's Akavov, who is a southpaw and holds the WBO European Middleweight title. Akavov has won all of his last 11 fights and has never been stopped in 17 bouts.
Saunders said: "Nothing comes easy in boxing and I'm definitely not taking Akavov for granted.
"He's a strong fighter and very dangerous and if I don't come in 100 per cent then he could cause an upset in my first title defence.
"I'm going to make sure I'm in the shape of my life and give Akavov the toughest night he's ever had, he's never been stopped before so this is going to be a first for him!"
Akavov said: "Although I am very honoured and proud to fight for the WBO World Championship, at the same time, I promise to prove that the Saunders camp were gravely mistaken with whatever they were expecting of me in the ring. I represent my family first and my country and that alone will not let me fail."