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Copper Box clash for middleweights

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Billy Joe Saunders claims he will “punish” challenger John Ryder when the two meet for his British middleweight title in London in autumn.

But both boxers will have to negotiate other bouts before their showdown at The Copper Box, part of the Olympic Park in Stratford, in September.

“As a fighter, when someone calls you out, you take… not offence, but you know, you take it to heart,” said Saunders, who is based at Canning Town’s Trad TKO Gym.

“It makes me want to get into the ring and punish them and that’s what I’m going to do when I fight John Ryder.

“Everything’s going spot-on at the moment, and I’ll have two-and-a-half months’ training for that fight. Everything will be smack-bang-on that night – and I’m going to take him apart.”

Saunders must first face unbeaten Irishman Gary O’Sullivan, who defends his WBO International title against him on July 20 – though the result will not affect the later bout with Ryder.

“I expect it to be tough, 100 per cent,” added Saunders. “He’s going to come here and punch, he’s going to be strong from the word go. He doesn’t want to let go of his title.

“But it’s horses for courses and I’m just a level above him, I think.”

Ryder, based at the Hainault gym of Tony Sims, will face an as-yet unnamed opponent in Hull on July 13, but says he can’t wait for the bout with fellow southpaw Saunders later in the year.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “The Copper Box is a new venue, I’m going to be one of the first title fights there, so I’m looking forward to it – it’ll be a bit of history in the making.

“We’ve both got fights to look forward to before then, but I’m confident we’ll both come through them. I’ve seen Billy with his belt, that’s what I want – I’m itching to get my hands on it.”

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