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Billy Joe Saunders eyes Darren Barker showdown after tight Copper Box win

Billy Joe Saunders (left) and John Ryder in action during the BBBofC British middleweight title and Commonwealth title bout at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire Billy Joe Saunders (left) and John Ryder in action during the BBBofC British middleweight title and Commonwealth title bout at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

By Len Whaley
Thursday, September 26, 2013
7:29 PM

Billy Joe Saunders took a tissue-thin verdict over John Ryder in their Copper Box Arena thriller on Saturday night, but while calls for a rematch rang out this week, the winner looked forward to a clash with Ryder’s gym pal, IBF world champion Darren Barker in 2014.

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“I’d like to think me against Darren could happen sometime next year, but if the fight was made earlier, I wouldn’t turn it down,” said the British champion.

The clash between Saunders from Canning Town’s TKO Gym and world champion Barker, based at east Londoner Tony Sims’ Hainault gym, looks a promising pairing for the future.

However, first Saunders could be in line for a European title clash and Barker must face mandatory challenger Felix Sturm before looking for defences against top home rivals.

Certainly the previously unbeaten British title rivals put on a thrilling late night show for fans who waited until after midnight on Saturday for their clash, as pro boxing came to the former Olympic venue.

Ryder looked the more powerful as he marched forward slamming solid punches with a determination to upset the odds and take the British and Commonwealth titles.

However, the champion fought back fiercely, firing the sharper shots to keep his aggressive rival at bay, as the advantage swayed one way and the other.

It was so hard to separate the pair in most rounds as their closely fought exchanges thrilled the fans in one showdown duel that certainly lived up to the pre-fight hype.

The official scoring was unanimous, but so close that Phil Edwards scored it 115-114, Howard Foster 115-113 and Dave Parris 115-113, all to Saunders.

The winner admitted: “I knew John Ryder would give me a tough fight and he pushed me to the wire - but there was no way he was taking my title. I knew I had won.”

Although his supporters thought he deserved the decision, Ryder accepted the defeat in style, saying: “I’m happy, there’s lots of positives to take, it was a good learning experience and it’s a case of onwards and upwards.”

Another TKO Gym fighter in action on the night, super middlewight Frank Buglioni, flattened Czech rival Broislav Kubin for his 10th straight victory as a pro.

Popular Buglioni finished it with a powerful right and is now keen to step up into the title picture: “I want a Southern Area championship fight next,” he stressed.

A second ex-Repton fighter, George Kean, also backed by a large-sized fan following, slammed a debut victory over Lincoln journeyman Rick Boulter in a four-rounder.

The former London amateur champion lunged in, too eager to please at times, but controlled the clash and his rival was on the receiving end before Kean took a clear verdict.

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