BRADLEY Saunders could be under an hour from breaking into the big time – or even less if he continues his run of stoppage wins.
The former Hartlepool boxer, now based in Spain, will fight this Saturday for the vacant WBO Inter-continental title light-welterweight title in Newcastle against Finland’s Ville Piispanen.
It is one of the chief support acts on the undercard of Stuart Hall’s IBF World bantamweight title defence against fellow Englishman Paul Butler at the Metro Radio Arena.
Saunders has won nine in a row since ending a long and glittering amateur career by signing for Frank Warren – seven of those wins coming early.
And the 28-year-old, from Sedgefield, is relishing the battle against the highly-ranked Finn, who is two years his senior.
“I can’t wait, this will be the first of many titles in my career,” said Saunders
“I’ve been building my career along nicely with my last two fights back up here.
“I’m over the moon that my fans will now get to see me win my first title at home”
Piispanen has lost only four times in 25 bouts and has gone the distance in European and EU title challenges.
Saunders has only been eight rounds once – a win against Peter McDonagh – but is confident he will have no issues this weekend with the 12-rounder.
“I hear that Piispenen has been wanting to fight me for some time,” said the former world amateur championship bronze medallist.
“Maybe he’s seen something in me that he thinks he can beat, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s got to offer.
“Looking at his record he’s mixed in good class and has travelled around a bit so he’ll be used to fighting away from home,.
“But he’s never felt the heat of my roaring fans in the North-East before and then he’s got to contend with me in the ring!
“I’ve had a great training in Marbella with the team and I’m looking forward to showing the results on Saturday night.
“The preparations have gone brilliantly.
“I know everyone says it, but I’m the best I’ve ever been.”
Saunders needed less than 12 minutes to reel off win number nine on his last appearance at the Metro Radio Arena in March.
Scotland’s Mitch Prince was sent to the canvas four times as the former Gus Robinson Developments boxer showed his ruthlessness.
To Prince’s defence, he was the substitute opponent for injured Paul McCloskey.
Team Saunders and his management and promotion organisation, Queensbury, had lined up the world-ranked Irishman for a WBO-rated fight.
And Saunders is thrilled that will now happen against Piispanen. a victory would take him a step closer to a world title bid.
“It will get me a world rating, and then I’m not going to take any backward steps. I will be on my way.”
In the main event, Hall makes the second defence of his IBF world bantamweight title against unbeaten Ellesmere Port star Butler.
Also appearing will be Birtley’s British cruiserweight champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson taking on Commonwealth ruler Ovill McKenzie.
Neil Fannan and Dave Garside prospect Tommy Ward will have his biggest fight yet, a six-rounder with South Africa’s Michael Ramabeletsa.
Guisborough’s Josh Leather and Northumberland KO specialist Lewis Scott are two other boxers in action.
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