Billy Joe Saunders ready 'to put Herts on the map' after surprise Stevenage FC announcement
PUBLISHED: 16:33 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 26 March 2019
Billy Joe Saunders wants to put Hertfordshire onto the world boxing map after announcing his next fight would be at Stevenage Football Club.
The Hatfield fighter will face off against Germany’s Shefat Isufi at the Lamex Stadium on May 18 in what is a first for the county.
But Saunders and his promoter Frank Warren don’t want to stop them with the 29-year-old former world champion saying this could just be the beginning.
He said: “There were a couple of venues mentioned like the Copper Box and I thought they were alright but when Stevenage Football Club was mentioned I thought it was too good to be true.
“It can be quite a comeback to be on my doorstep and have a lot of fans there but also I’ve got to put a performance in and we’re only eight weeks away.
“It’s got to be perfect.
“I’m trying to put Hertfordshire on the map with stadiums and big shows like this where promoters think if there was a 10,000 sell-out there, we can do it again.
“Hopefully somebody on the undercard can come through and build themselves a name and hopefully it will be them one day.
“It’s all about setting a platform where Hertfordshire is competing with elsewhere. Some day maybe it will be Watford’s football ground.”
The fight, which is for the WBO interim super middleweight world title, will be the first for Saunders after a terrible 2018.
And while having it on his doorstep saw the twinkle very much back in his eye, the Hatfield man knows he cannot just turn up and expect to win, even if he is the strong favourite.
He said: “I need to work the venue into my performance. It’s no good Frank Warren setting up something like this but getting in there and just looking ok.
“It’s got to be full-on business.
“I need to go there and seek and destroy, I need to go there and put on a performance.
“There’s more pressure because of what happened last year. If I go and get knocked out most people will probably clap and cheer and say ‘he deserved that’.
“Alternatively I can come here, put on an absolutely barnstorming performance and people will say he’s back and look where he did it.
“This is a brilliant move to build my fanbase back up here and put it back on the map where it should be.”