Billy Joe Saunders blasts out Blandamura to win European title
Billy Joe Saunders (20-0, 11 KOs) scored an 8th round KO over previously unbeaten Emanuele Blandamura (22-1, 5 KOs) to claim the vacant European title on Saturday at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester.
The unbeaten Hatfield southpaw showed signs of rustiness in his first fight for 10 months before unleasing a crushing right hand that sent the Italian sprawling against the ropes and after several more blows prompted a standing count from the referee, Blandamura’s corner threw in the towel.
The European title fight was elevated to the main event after Dereck Chisora pulled out of his grudge match with Tyson Fury, who subsequently withdrew from a rescheduled contest against Alexander Ustinov.
The British and Commonwealth champion, 24, suffered a cut to his left eye in the second round and struggled to dominate his 34-year-old opponent. Saunders even looked to be tiring slightly as the fight headed through the middle rounds but found the perfect shot to end any fears of an upset.
"My timing was out a little bit but he is a good fighter, he was unbeaten and rated well, and I finished him well," said Saunders.
"There were a lot of things I could pick faults with but I am only 24, I am still learning and getting better all the time."
Next Saunders could face British middleweight rival Chris Eubank Jr (17-0, 12 KOs), who had earlier demolished Croatia’s Ivan Jukic (19-3, 12 KOs) in the first round. Eubank knocked down his overmatched opponent twice before the referee halted the contest.
Saunders said: "It's not that I need him. But if people want me to knock him out, I will do it. If he is man enough, we will get it on."
Also on the card, British light middleweight champion Liam Smith (17-0-1, 7 KOs) stopped Jason Welborn (15-3, 6 KOs) with a body shot in the 6th round.
Terry Flanagan (25-0, 9 KOs) stopped Martin Gethin (24-6-1, 11 KOs) after seven rounds to win the vacant British lightweight title. Flanagan punished Gethin, who failed to emerge for the 8th round.
Other results on the card:
Jack Catterall W Nathan Brough TKO 2
Ronnie Heffron L Liam Williams RTD 6
Liam Walsh W Kevin Hooper KO 4
Thomas Stalker W Ben Wager PTS 6
Adrian Gonzalez W Mark Evans TKO 3
Michael Gomez Jnr W Elemir Rafael TKO 3
Macaulay McGowan W Matt Seawright PTS 4
Declan Geraghty W Kristian Laight PTS 4