Gary O’Sullivan targets Billy Joe Saunders as world title dream lives on

Gary O’Sullivan is hoping to secure a rematch with old friend and foe Billy Joe Saunders, the WBO middleweight champion, after a shock victory in Canada put him right back in the world title frame.

Gary O’Sullivan targets Billy Joe Saunders as world title dream lives on

O’Sullivan was hand-picked by the team of Antoine Douglas for the co-main event slot here in Montreal, Canada. They were hoping for an easy night’s work against ‘Spike’, who was only given four weeks’ notice for the bout.

The Mahon, Cork puncher, who believes he is destined to be world champion, jumped at the chance and upset the odds by stopping the American rising star in the seventh round at the Place Bell in the city’s Laval suburb.

O’Sullivan, who told Examiner Sport that he writes a note ‘I will become middleweight champion of the world’ on a piece of paper every night, is now one significant step closer to fulfilling his prophecy.

Victory in Canada came on the undercard of Saunders’ title defence against David Lemieux, which he won thanks to a 12-round masterclass against the home favourite. Now the Englishman needs an opponent for April and Spike is hoping to receive the call.

“Me and Billy Joe are very good friends but he is the target now,” he said. “Why not? He is a great fighter, very good indeed.”

Spike should know, having suffered the first defeat of his career when he came up against Saunders in London back in 2013 and suffered a burst eardrum en route to a comprehensive points loss. It was a result which nearly drove him into retirement but now, four years and 12 fights on, O’Sullivan believes he has the tools to dethrone the WBO king.

“We have sparred since our first fight and I certainly feel like I could do a better job now,” said Spike, who has become close friends with Saunders since their first fight.

“I landed some good shots on him in sparring but he has a good chin too, he has never been down in his career. But with the smaller gloves on when I’m landing those shots, who knows what can happen?

“I know I’m a different fighter now than I was then, both physically and mentally. I had some horrendous stuff going on outside the ring, family issues, when I fought Billy Joe.

“I got major news four days before the fight so I was not psychologically right. I thought about retiring after that fight because of my mentality during the 12 rounds. In the fight after that, I fought a Mexican guy and hung my chin out to dry on purpose to prove something to myself.

“I had a meeting with myself that time and thought ‘if I can’t do this then I need to give up’. It would have been a waste of my family’s time.

“There have been a lot of stages to my life but I feel better for them now.”

On his victory over Douglas, which came when referee Steve St-Germain waved it off after 1:03 of the seventh, he added: “I’m happy with the win. I caught him with a few good shots and he took them, he had a good chin. He wobbled a few times and I got the stoppage in the end. It was an important fight to get ranked and up there with big boys in the division. There was a lot on the line for both of us and I wanted it that little bit more I think.”

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