Ricky Burns (born 13 April 1983) is a professional boxer from Coatbridge, Scotland, who fights in the lightweight division and is currently the WBO Lightweight champion. He is also a former WBO Super-Featherweight champion, Commonwealth super featherweight champion and has previously challenged for both the British and European titles. He is considered one of boxing's "nice guys" as well as a superb role model. His record currently stands at 37 fights, 35 wins (10 by KO) and only 2 losses.
Billy Joe Saunders (born 30 August 1989) is a British professional boxer, who after a distinguished junior career qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is the current Commonwealth champion at middleweight, and remains undefeated as a professional.
Saunders lives with his family near Hatfield, Hertfordshire and fights for Hoddesdon ABC. Originally from Cheshunt, Saunders is the great-grandson of one of Britain's most famous Romani bareknuckle champions, Absolom Beeney.
The southpaw won his first 49 amateur fights at senior level in a row, including the Commonwealth Championships in 2007 and the Strandya Cup 2008 edging out Cuban Carlos Banteux.
In 2008 Saunders qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the Welterweight division at the age of 18. Saunders qualified at the European area qualifier in Pescara, Italy. He beat European champion Andrey Balanov and Kakhaber Zhvania, he lost his semi to Oleksandr Stretskyy before beating the Slovakian, Pavol Hlavacka for the all-important third spot. He went to Beijing as the first person from the British Romanichal community to qualify for the games, where he was defeated in the second round of the welterweight division. In early December 2008, Saunders signed professional terms along with James DeGale and Frankie Gavin with Frank Warren.
Saunders made his professional debut on 28 February 2009 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham against Attila Molnar. Saunders looked confident from the opening bell, landing hard combinations which were just too much for Molnar. In round two, a series of punches that landed flush on Molnar's chin caused the referee to stop the fight and save a dazed Molnar. He won his second fight by second round stoppage of Ronny Gabel and his third fight, also by second round stoppage, of Matt Scriven. On 9 October 2009, he had to go the full four rounds to outpoint Alex Spitko. Since his fight with Spitko Saunders has helped himself to five further wins. In May 2011 he scored an impressive second round knockout victory over Kevin Hammond.
Saunders has since scored wins against Norbert Szekeres, Gary Boulden and Tony Hill, the last of these giving him his seventh professional knock-out victory and winning the Commonwealth middleweight belt.
Super Middleweight George Groves, out of the Hayemaker stable, has always shown star potential and now he’s proving it.
His history makes for interesting reading - as an amateur he recorded 75 bouts, two senior ABA titles, nine international gold medals, and defeated Olympic middleweight gold medallist James Degale in the 2006 ABAs.
A former child kickboxer, Groves was a regular on Eurosport broadcasts at age 13. He won four world junior titles and an EKU title live on television. Claiming he was ‘shy’ as a youth, Groves quickly snapped out of this fear of the limelight as superstardom loomed.
Despite achieving plenty as a fledgling kickboxer, Groves’ hands proved to be the real moneymakers. Everyone – well, nearly everyone - could see it from the moment Groves first stepped through the doors of Dale Youth ABC.
“I remember during the first week at the gym one of the trainers, Mickey ‘Northole’, told everybody that I would be something special. He said I’d win an ABA title and even stuck a cut-out on the wall with writing on it saying I’d be an ABA champion. All the other boxers in the gym said I was just a kickboxer and a fairy. I still think that cut-out is up on the wall now.”
George has three role models; he’s a big fan of Oscar De La Hoya, and closer to home would like to emulate the style and success of David Haye. Then there’s the tattoo which adorns George’s mid-section; it’s Mars the Roman god of war, one of the most worshipped and revered gods in ancient Rome. It acts as a symbol of energy, action; of lust and passion and brings George strength as the fighter and protector.
“In the few remaining minutes before I enter the ring I don’t fear anything; I feel like I can take on the world and conquer it.”
In 10 years time...?
“I hope I have not only the financial security to retire but also the ability to let go of the sport I have partaken all my life. I know a lot of people find it difficult to quit when they’re ahead, and that’s never truer than in boxing. I hope that I’ll still be involved in the sport to a certain degree, whether it’s training or managing young fighters or even promoting. I would find the challenge just as exhilarating as fighting it self and would have insider knowledge of what’s best for fighters.”