BOXER Bradley Saunders will not take his championship rival lying down.
The 28-year-old has signed a sponsorship deal with the Sofa Bed Shop but it will be the only time he is found enjoying any comfort.
Saunders is building up to two fights in the space of five weeks – the second of which is a challenge for Dave Ryan’s Commonwealth light-welterweight title in Newcastle on Saturday, April 4.
The unbeaten WBO inter-continental champion was in Hartlepool to meet up with Colin Rafferty, whose Sofa Bed Shop used to sponsor town boxing star Amanda Coulson.
“Things are going great,” Saunders told SportMail.
“I can’t wait for the fight with Ryan.
“We’ve sold 60-odd grand’s worth of tickets already – it’s going to be massive.
“I have got a six-round warm-up on Matchroom’s Hull show on March 7, just to dust off any ring-rust.
“I need it for the fight at the Metro Radio Arena against Dave Ryan.”
Saunders is the favourite for the showdown with the 32-year-old Derby fighter known as “Rocky”.
But he says he is full of respect for Ryan who floored Tyrone Nurse in the first and second rounds on the way to a points win on away soil for the Commonwealth light-welterweight belt last October.
“It’s a 50-50 fight in my book,” said Saunders.
“He’s a lot more pro experience than me and he’s beaten better fighters than I’ve boxed.
“Dave put Nurse down twice and he’s beaten Paul McCloskey, who challenged for Amir Khan’s world title.
“I wanted to beat McCloskey as well but sadly he pulled out injured.”
Saunders will be linking up with new trainer Oliver Harrison in Salford on Monday as he counts down to the Hull and Newcastle dates.
“People will get a shock when they watch me, they will see an even better Bradley Saunders,” said the Sedgefield boxer who thanked the Sofa Bed Shop for their backing.
“I can’t thank Colin enough for his sponsorship, I am very grateful.
“And I’d like to thank everyone for their support for the fight in Newcastle, it’s greatly appreciated.”
l FOR tickets for the Metro Radio Arena show, which also features Olympic hero Anthony Joshua, call Tracey on 07944695367.