Bradley Saunders can make it another KO win on Bellew v Cleverly show

RARE POINTS VERDICT: Bradley Saunders celebrates after beating Kevin McCauley at Upton Park
RARE POINTS VERDICT: Bradley Saunders celebrates after beating Kevin McCauley at Upton Park

BRADLEY Saunders could have picked worse places to make his first appearance as a Matchroom fighter.

The Sedgefield light-welterweight takes on Latvia’s Ivans Levickas at a sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool tonight on the massive Sky Sports pay-per-view event.

Saunders v Levickas is one of the support bouts for the grudge re-match between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly.

And the unbeaten 28-year-old will be favourite to make it 11 straight wins AND register his ninth stoppage success.

So far, Saunders, who signed for Eddie Hearn last week, has only been the distance twice, and it is hard seeing his 22-year-old opponent making it three.

But Levickas is no dummy – he recently ruined the 12-fight winning run of an Italian prospect by knocking him out in Lazio.

In fact, of his 13 wins, 12 have been by KO or TKO.

Also on the undercard, George Groves has his second comeback bout since May’s Wembley knockout by Carl Froch as he faces American Denis Douglin.

James Degale continues his quest for a world super-middleweight title shot with a competitive fight against Mexico’s Marco Periban, while Anthony Joshua continues his learning curve against heavyweight veteran Michael Sprott.

Bury’s Scott Quigg puts his WBA super-bantamweight title on the line against Hidenori Otake of Japan while Jamie McDonnell makes the first defence of his WBA bantamweight crown against Argentina’s Javier Chacon.

But at the top of the bill, Cleverly and Bellew look to complete their fast-track back towards world title contention.

The winner of their much-anticipated showdown can expect to earn a showdown with reigning WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck, who will be at ringside to watch the contest.

Both Cleverly and Bellew know it is a bout they can ill afford to lose after each suffered crushing knockout losses in respective world light-heavyweight title bouts last year.

Bellew came up short against Cleverly by majority decision in the same arena three years ago but the Scouser insists despite an acrimonious build-up he is not feeling the pressure of what could be a make-or-break night.