Following the announcement earlier this week by James DeGale to vacate his IBF super-middleweight title, there has been increased speculation to who might be next for the Briton.
One of those linked to fighting the two-time world champion is former GB team-mate and current WBO middleweight king Billy Joe Saunders.
Speaking to WBN this weekend, the undefeated titlist has refused to rule out the possibility of a domestic showdown with ‘Chunky.’
“There were talks. I’ve left things with Frank Warren and MTK’s hands at the minute. I’m sure he’s got his path and I’ve got mine,” the 28 year-old exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I find that these belts now get in the way of big fights – I’m the middleweight champion of the world but it can hold up these big, big fights. I held onto to my belt because GGG wanted the final piece of the puzzle but then he got stripped of his IBF so it’s not a full unification between himself and me anymore.
“I personally believe DeGale is at the last stage of his career and he can’t be bothered to fight these mandated opponents, it doesn’t suit him financially, so I can see why he has vacated. But for me, it would be a fight I’d love and relish. Two former teammates of the Olympic squad go battle to battle and I’d like it,” he said.
Saunders, who produced a sensational performance to defeat David Lemieux in his backyard in December, admitted he’d be willing to move up to 168lbs if a huge fight was available.
“I’ve got no problem moving up to 12st, I’m not a little 11st 6lb fight, I’m quite broad for it. My natural weight is middleweight but I’d certainly move up.
“It’d be a great fight between myself and DeGale, a very good fight for both of us and it’d be a game of chess for a few rounds but once somebody sustains a lead the other would have to roll the dice. Me and him have sparred which people would pay to watch.”
However, there could be a stumbling block for a showdown between the two Brits after the WBO recently announced Demetrius Andrade could be a likely mandatory fight for Saunders.
And after three successful defences, the 2008 Olympian has stated his desire to remain WBO champion at the 160lb division.
He concluded: “I’m not saying I want to vacate, it’s one of them. If a big, big fight came and it meant me moving up a weight and Frank could speak to the WBO that’d be great. As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to be middleweight champion of the world, added Saunders.
Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95