BRADLEY Saunders has struck the biggest blow in his boxing career with a move to Matchroom and Sky Sports after leaving Frank Warren’s corner.
Now the County Durham fighter wants to go all the way to the top.
The 28-year-old, from Sedgefield, was yesterday unveiled as Eddie Hearn’s newest signing for the biggest and best stable in British boxing.
And Saunders has only one thing on his mind - winning a world title in the North-East.
Hearn told the media conference at St James’s Park that the former Hartlepool-trained entertainer will make his debut in Liverpool on November 22 and will headline a show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on April 4.
“My aim is to be world champion,” said Saunders.
“I don’t want to be anything less.
“I want to bring big things to the North East and I want to win them here.
“I am a North-East lad and proud of where I come from.
“I know it is going to be hard, but I’m ready to go.
“I am 28-years-old, I’m not a boy any more, I can compete at the top level.”
Saunders has already given boxing glimpses of the undoubted talent he possesses in those dynamite fists.
A former world amateur championship bronze medallist and Olympian, he made the transfer to the pro game in sensational style.
Saunders has rattled off 10 straight wins as a professional, eight of the victories coming inside the distance.
In fact, so devastating is the former Gus Robinson Developments star that the perfect 10 has taken less than 40 rounds.
His last bout highlighted how good he is by ruthlessly knocking out highly-ranked Ville Piispanen in barely over a minute at the Metro Radio Arena in June.
“I am doing numbers on everyone,” said Saunders.
“That lad had only ever been stopped on a cut and I took him out inside a round. None-one had done that to him before.
“I beat and outboxed Peter McDonagh in only my fifth fight.
“But I’m not just a fighter, I can box as well
“I want some proper names now. I know I can compete with some big names and I think British people know I can.”
Those 10 victories were all achieved under Frank Warren, the man who for decades was the dominant force in British boxing.
It was a relationship which looked as solid as any boxing marriage could be - Warren even came up to the Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield to join Saunders to support South Durham ABC’s dinner show in the summer.
But the boxer said when his deal with Queensberry Promotions expired, he telephoned his boss to say he would be moving on.
“I’d like to think me and Frank parted on a good note,” said Saunders, who will Hartlepool strength and conditioning guru Ian Glass as part of his team. “I just rang Frank and told him.
“Everyone in boxing seems to jump ship, but people need to realise I was a free agent.
“I didn’t jump ship. My contract had expired and I had the decency to ring Frank to thank him for what he had done for me and explain I was looking at other options.
“Not many boxers do that.
“I would like to think I have done things properly.
“Frank was a bit sick at the time, but that’s life I suppose.
“This is a new chapter for me now.
“I had options but this was the best deal for me, my team and my family.”