By Frank Warren
You have to give Billy Joe Saunders ten out of ten for honesty following his uncomfortably tight victory over Artur Akavov on Saturday night in Glasgow. The fingers on one hand more than suffice when it comes to marking his performance in the fight.
I’ve heard that Bill himself described the experience as a wake-up call and, quite simply, the penny has got to drop or his reign as a world middleweight champion will not extend much into 2017.
What he vitally needs to show now is that he has real New Year resolution.
The Beverly Hills-based Russian was game, well prepared and determined to grasp the opportunity put in front of him. All the things Bill was not. I am afraid it was just not good enough and he just about got away with it.
Bill is now operating at the elite end of the sport and needs to conduct himself as such pretty much at all times. It is not a hobby that you pick up again when the mood takes you, there are no shortcuts in this business, you either give it your all or get found out.
As Bill also stated in his post-fight appraisal, how can you talk about taking on the current greats after a display like that? What I do know is that Bill is not daft and is fully aware his preparations were not of an acceptable level and it needs to be a lesson learned.
What we witnessed from him in Scotland was not good enough. It is all very well being critical of yourself in hindsight, but you don’t need to be an Einstein to realise there was a problem there and I have seen some of the photos that were floating around in the weeks leading up to the fight and it is not what a professional athlete should look like.
Actions now need to speak louder than words and the proof must be in the pudding – just not the Christmas pudding! Bill must sort himself out and not pile on three of four stone over the festive period and show some commitment to himself and the sport.
There are massive opportunities ahead for a fit and switched on Billy Joe Saunders. We have backed him and progressed his career since he turned pro at the age of 18 and are steadfast in our belief in his ability.
We want to keep him busy and the big fights are there to be made, but we also want him to show the best of himself and win them. If his undoubted talent is coupled with an equal measure of application and desire then he really is onto a winner.
Bill now needs to keep his title active and sharpen his tools at the same time, so he can expect to be kept busy in the new year.
We noticed that Chris Eubank jnr started piping up again on social media over, yet again, wanting a rematch with Bill, which would have made for a good fight in early 2017.
We responded to his chirping with an offer but, as always, the silence is deafening…
Three more of our fighters were out in Glasgow having tune up contests but, to my mind, all three of them need to be stepping it up now and really pushing on.
Paul Butler is such a fabulous little boxer who barely puts a foot or fist wrong. He has now had a couple of outings to ease himself back into the bantamweight branch of the game against decent enough opposition, but that will do now.
All of Paul’s fights from now on are going to be real tests and title fights. We have made a couple of offers that we are now following up on to try and get them over the line, so watch this space.
Much the same goes for Jack Catterall, who was a bit sluggish on Saturday night. I am a big fan of Jack, but I now suspect he needs something to really challenge him and that is what we will deliver for him next year.
Steven Lewis is now picking up a bit of momentum after injuries blighted his progress and he is another who now needs to show what he is made of in a really meaningful fight that will propel him to the next level.
More from Frank tomorrow on a heavy weekend of boxing ahead