Jeff Saunders follows big brother Bradley Saunders into pro boxing ring

BOXING CHAMP : Jeff Saunders
BOXING CHAMP : Jeff Saunders

JEFF Saunders is following big brother Bradley into the pro boxing ring.

The 23-year-old, from Sedgefield, had recently been doing his fighting in HM Forces but has now sworn allegiance to the professional game.

And Jeff is hoping to make his debut next month at the Steve Wraith-promoted Rising Stars show at Gateshead on Saturday, February 7.

It is an exciting time in the Saunders home with unbeaten Bradley counting down to his biggest fight – a challenge for the Commonwealth title against Dave Ryan in his Matchroom debut in Newcastle on April 4.

But, for today, Jeff is the fighting brother in the spotlight.

While the South Durham boxer has not matched Bradley’s incredible achievements, he’s no mug.

He followed in Bradley’s ringsteps as an ABA champion in 2013 when he outpointed Londoner Sam McNess in the final at Rainton Meadows Arena.

The former Sedgefield Community College pupil has spent almost four years serving Queen and country, with the 2nd Battallion, the Parachute Regiment.

But now he has left the Army and is pursuing his boxing dream and he is not holding back with his ambitions.

“I’ve done my time and enjoyed the army but I’m now a full-time athlete,” he told SportMail. “I want a world championship belt around my waist.

“I want to go all the way.

“I don’t want to just cruise along – I want to make my living from the sport and be a world champion.”

Saunders, who will be trained by dad, Jeff Snr, had been left disenchanted by the lack of international recognition – despite a glittering junior career and that ABA senior crown,

“I won everything domestically in the amateurs, I beat all the top lads,” he said. “There was nothing else I could do. In the end I thought ‘stuff it’ I’ll go pro.

“I’ve seen lads in the professional game I have beaten in the amateurs and thought ‘if they are up there, I can beat them and overtake them’.”

The younger Saunders is just waiting to receive his clearance from the British Boxing Board of Control and if, though hopefully when, he gets the green light, he will box at Gateshead Leisure Centre in three Saturdays.

“I’m only 23 and need rounds and experience so I’ll do three or four four-rounders before I pick it up,” he added. “I’ve appeared in front of the Board and hope to hear soon if I have my licence.”