Billy Joe Saunders plotting December ring return despite retirement claims

Former two-weight world champion Billy Joe Saunders hasn’t fought since his loss to Canelo Alvarez last year but has reportedly been sparring with a boxing comeback in mind

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Boxing: Canelo celebrates victory over Saunders

Billy Joe Saunders has been back in sparring ahead of a possible ring return, although his representatives say he’s retired.

The former two-weight world champion suffered his first career defeat in May last year to pound-for-pound great Canelo Alvarez, who went on to become undisputed at super-middleweight. Saunders, 32, suffered a gruesome eye injury that saw the fight stopped between rounds and has kept a low profile as he ponders his boxing future.

In a fresh development, it appears he has returned to sparring, with his coach telling The Sheffield Star that “everything is still there” as he eyes up a return to the ring. The newspaper reports that a representative for Saunders insisted that he was “currently retired and not returning to boxing”.

He worked six rounds at the Ingle Gym with assistant coach Amer Khan while his former trainer Dominic Ingle was away for a Spanish training camp. “We had a spar last week, he’s definitely still got the grit,” Khan explained.

“He’s still fighting like his life depends on it. Everything is still there. You have to kill him to beat him – you have to nail him to the ground. He can dig deep and take it to the well.”

Saunders is still recovering from injury and is unsure whether or not he will return full-time to his old stomping ground at the Ingle Gym in Sheffield. He worked with Mark Tibbs for the Alvarez fight and also had Ben Davison in his corner as an assistant coach.

“He came back a couple of weeks back just to find his feet, get away from home,” Ingle added. “He’s aiming to fight in December. His nutritionist Greg Marriott is based in Sheffield, we have just got to sit down and work out a plan of where he goes from there.

“That’s another conversation I need to have when I get back to Sheffield. It might work out, it might not – he’s like all boxers really; there’s good points about them, there’s bad points.

Billy Joe Saunders may give boxing one more go
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“He can be generous then, sometimes, some of the stuff he does, you will be scratching your head. But the thing is, they are good at boxing. These days I try not to get too involved in the personality side of them, or their family life, or anything personal. It’s too much hard work. It can be emotionally draining when you are involved too deep with fighters.”

Saunders has kept an uncharacteristically low profile over recent months after his loss to Alvarez, but may not be done with fighting just yet. Ingle is going to wait and see what happens next before making any decisions about working with him again.

“In the Canelo fight, he didn’t have a fantastic camp but he gave a very decent performance,” Ingle said. “I think he could have beaten Canelo. Maybe there’s more to the mark with Billy, let’s just see how it goes.”

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