Saunders likely to defend 168-pound title on Nov. 9 against Ghana’s Martey

Billy Joe Saunders likely has an opponent for the first defense of his super middleweight world title.

Saunders is expected to face little-known, yet unbeaten Emmanuel Martey on the KSI-Logan Pau II card on November 9 (DAZN) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, has learned. reporter Cameron Gillon was first to break the report on social media.

It has been known for just over a week that Saunders would fight on the card, but an opponent was not initially named.

Saunders (28-0, 13 KO’s), of the United Kingdom, who will make his U.S. debut, became a two-division world champion in May by outpointing Shefat Isufi to capture the vacant WBO world title.

The 30-year-old southpaw won his first world title in December 2015 when he dropped Andy Lee twice en route to a majority decision to win the WBO middleweight title. He made three defenses before vacating the title after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug.

Saunders tested positive for the powerful stimulant oxilofrine, which nixed a planned fourth defense against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade last year. Andrade went on to defeat replacement opponent Walter Kaukondokwa to win the vacant belt, and has made two defenses.

Although Martey is undefeated in 15 fights with 11 knockouts, his opposition has been less than impressive. He has won two bouts in a row by knockout, including a fifth-round stoppage in Aug. 2018 of Sunday Ajuwa, who was knocked out by up-and-comer John Vera in Sept. 2017.

Martey is the No. 12 WBO ranked contender, despite his weak resume. Challengers must be ranked within the top 15 of the division to earn a shot at the title.

Saunders is aiming to secure big fights against the likes of Callum Smith, Canelo Alvarez, And Gennadiy Golovkin.

The first step is to defeat Martey, which should be rather easy. was informed late Wednesday that negotiations were unsuccessful. Saunders will likely face an opponent who is currently unranked.

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