Akavov was announced as the Saunders opponent for the upcoming event in Cardiff and was immediately dismissed by some UK fans and media as an easy victory for the current world title holder.
Despite this, DiBella and Akavov are expecting a close fight and one that could derail plans for Saunders to meet pound for pound stars Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin at some point in 2017.
“I know that the champion Billy Joe Saunders is a professional, so I hope he’s not looking past Akavov,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.
“”Artur Akavov is a tough SOB who will bring the fight to Billy Joe. If this is a ‘keep busy’ fight, the champion better be prepared for a tough night. Artur is no joke.”
Akavov added: “I know why they picked me as an opponent. Although I am very honoured and proud to fight for the WBO World Championship, at the same time, I promise to prove that the Saunders camp were gravely mistaken with whatever they were expecting of me in the ring.
“I represent my family first and my country and that alone will not let me fail,” he said.