Bradley Saunders relishing return to ring at JD NXTGEN show in Newcastle

Bradley Saunders.
Bradley Saunders.

Bradley Saunders does not fear giving his boxing career another crack.

The Sedgefield fighter makes something of a shock return after being named as a member of the cast list for the JD NXTGEN show in Newcastle on Saturday, June 23.

Saunders has not boxed in 21 months, when he suffered two broken hands in a surprise defeat to Renald Garrido in Liverpool in September 2015.

But the 31-year-old says he is relishing a return to the ring at the Walker Activity Dome, where he will fight a six-rounder against a to-be-named opponent.

“I’ll fight whoever they want to put in front of me,” said the ex-WBO inter-continental light-welterweight champion.

“I’ve been back in the gym and I’m punching very hard, but I can’t wait to fight again.

“I’ve had 18 months out and, to be honest, I’ve loved every minute of it.

“It’s been great to go out with the missus for a nice meal and have a bottle of wine or go out with the lads and not worry about how much I drank or ate.

“That doesn’t mean I’ve been unfit, I’ve always prided myself on being physically fit.

“I’ve done a lot of cross fit and felt good and one day I looked in the mirror and said ‘Bradley you can do this’ so I decided it was time to go back to work!

“I know I have more to give, so here I am ready to go again.”

Before the first loss on his pro record, he appeared to be heading towards major title contention at light-welterweight.

But Saunders broke BOTH hands at the Olympia ring against the Frenchman and, frustrated with his inability to throw a punch, ended up headbutting his opponent and being disqualified by referee Steve Gray.

The 2008 Olympian has been plagued with hand trouble for some time, no surprise given a two-decade run in the sport, spanning almost two centuries of amateur and professional bouts.

When being trained by Peter Cope at the Gus Robinson Developments gym, he had a career-saving op from surgeon Mike Hayton back in 2012 after an eight-round points win over ex-Irish champion Peter McDonagh.

The same specialist operated again after his last fight, having bone from his hip grafted onto his hands.

Saunders admits he is in the last-chance-saloon, but is determined to “crack on”.

“Mike has been brilliant for me, he’s prolonged my career,” said Brad, whose younger brother Jeff is an unbeaten pro.

“When I wanted to come back, I went to see the doc to see if I could box.

“He said ‘yes you can fight, but I’d advise you not to’.

“The fact he said I could was good enough for me!

“If my hands go again, that will be the end, 100%, but I want to try, I still feel there is a title there for me.”

Topping the Matchroom-promoted bill will be Rio Olympian Josh Kelly, the Sunderland boxer coming up against Northern Area title contender Tom Whitfield.

For tickets, contact Tracey on 07944 695367.