Saunders ‘must prove point’ v Monroe Jr

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Billy Joe Saunders (left) has defended his WBO title only once

Billy Joe Saunders must “prove a point” in beating Willie Monroe Jr if he wants to unify the middleweight division, says promoter Frank Warren.

The Briton, 27, will defend the WBO title he won in 2015 when he faces the American in London on 16 September.

The fight is a week after Gennady Golovkin’s bout with Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas, where the division’s three other titles will be on the line.

“If Bill comes through, we are pushing hard for the winner,” said Warren.

“If Golovkin wins, I hope we can do that fight in December. If Canelo wins, it could be in the new year. Bill has to go out there and prove a point. There is a lot on the line.”

Saunders is undefeated in 24 professional bouts but has defended his world title just once and has not fought since December.

He was due to face Avtandil Khurtsidze in July but that fight was postponed when the Georgian was arrested.

Saunders says he will be in “the best shape of my life” when he meets 30-year-old Monroe Jr at the Copper Box Arena.

The American has two defeats – one a sixth-round stoppage against Golovkin – from 23 fights.

“I think it is going to be a very close fight but I already have the mental edge over him,” said Saunders. “He said he was done against Golovkin and that’s not what a warrior would do. I’d rather get knocked out cold than quit.”

Monroe Jr said: “I gave a good account of myself against Golovkin but I will admit that I got caught up in the moment.

“Billy Joe has had a lot of luxuries throughout his career that I haven’t had. All of his fights have been in his own backyard. He hasn’t had to go into the lion’s den to prove himself.”

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