Boxer Bradley Saunders sorry for headbutt, but now looks to save career

Bradley Saunders.
Bradley Saunders.

Bradley Saunders was today preparing to see the man who could save his career.

It is not promoter, Eddie Hearn, or manager Daniel Kinahan, though they are key figures.

Saunders is meeting consultant Mike Hayton after the disastrous events on Saturday night in Liverpool.

The 29-year-old suffered more than the loss of his 100 per cent record and a chance to challenge for the Commonwealth light-welterweight title in a top-of-the-bill appearance in Newcastle this autumn.

Saunders damaged both hands badly in his bout with tough Frenchman Renald Garrido at the famous Olympia venue.

With defeat seemingly inevitable, the Sedgefield star lost his head and then used it to deliberately butt the 32-year-old Marseille man.

Referee Steve Gray immediately disqualified Saunders, who now hopes Hayton can use his skills in theatre for a third time.

The Manchester consultant first operated on the left hand of Saunders in late 2012, when the former Olympian was fighting out of the Gus Robinson Developments gym in Hartlepool.

That op was a great success, with Saunders coming back and reeling off six stoppage wins out of seven, including an 81-second demolition of Ville Piispanen for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title.

But he hurt his right fist in the spring when preparing for a shot at Dave Ryan’s Commonwealth title in Newcastle.

Hayton fixed that too but Saunders said both his tools “went” against Garrido.

“My hands are in splints right now, I can’t even pull my boxer shorts up on my own!” he said. “I apologise to everybody for the way it ended, I didn’t want to turn my back or take a knee.

“That was my way of keeping him off – what I did was in the heat of the moment. Full credit to Garrido, he came to win. But if I never broke my hands then I could have done what I did in the first few rounds for the full fight.

“I’m seeing Mike [today]. I went straight to the doctors after the fight, I’ve ruptured ligaments and the previous bone graft has moved so it’s not where it should be anymore.”

Saunders started brightly at the Olympia against an experienced opponent, who had never been stopped in his career.

But the Matchroom fighter said he felt his left hand go in the second round and his right in the fourth.

It left him at “Le Lion’s” mercy and the Frenchman took advantage putting him down in the sixth.

Saunders headbutted him when the bout resumed, the Lancashire official disqualifying him just seven seconds from the end of the round.

The County Durham man said he didn’t tell coach Danny Vaughan. “I didn’t want Danny to pull me out so I didn’t let on that both hands had gone,” he admitted.