Billy Joe Saunders says Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin must face him

Saunders (right) says he can afford no mistakes if he is to face either Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (left) or Gennady Golovkin (centre)
Saunders (right) says he can afford no mistakes if he is to face either Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (left) or Gennady Golovkin (centre)

WBO world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders says there is "no excuse" for neither Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez nor Gennady Golovkin to face him this year.

Saunders, 28, faces Martin Murray on 14 April, while IBF, WBA and WBC title-holder Golovkin will face Alvarez in a rematch on 5 May.

"If the winner doesn't fight me in a unification, we know someone is ducking someone," Saunders told BBC Sport.

"I look favourite for the winner but who knows, anything can happen."

Alvarez and Golovkin battled to a controversial draw in September and a repeat encounter had long been on the cards.

Saunders' eye-catching win over David Lemieux elevated his reputation throughout the sport
Saunders' eye-catching win over David Lemieux elevated his reputation throughout the sport

The demand to see the bout again delayed Saunders' shot at unifying the titles, with his stock in the 160lbs division high after a dominant win over David Lemieux in Canada in December.

"To be honest, do I blame them for not fighting me after I'd beaten Lemieux? No," Saunders told BBC Radio 5 live's boxing podcast.

"They are in for a big-money rematch. Business-wise I don't hate them or despise them for it. After that, there is no excuse for any of us. If I don't fight the winner, I'm ducking; if he doesn't, the same."

Saunders, who is unbeaten in 26 fights, believes his eye-catching display against Lemieux - which drew praise from the likes of Floyd Mayweather - was good for his profile but bad for business in that some future opponents may have been put off facing him.

He would also consider moving up a weight division if he cannot get the unification bout he craves and a tempting offer came at super-middleweight.

Saunders next faces Martin Murray who has only been stopped once - against Golovkin - in his career
Saunders next faces Martin Murray who has only been stopped once - against Golovkin - in his career

Murray represents the fourth challenge to his WBO world title, won against Andy Lee in 2015.

The St Helens fighter has contested a world belt four times in the past, taking Golovkin 11 rounds in 2015 and missing out controversially with the judges after other attempts.

"I can't afford any slip ups," said Saunders. "We saw James DeGale shocked in December and the same scenario can happen.

"Martin Murray is right in what he said, he can't offer me a belt, or more money. The only thing he can offer me is a hard fight, he summed it up well. He has only lost to world champions and I think he should have been world champion twice.

"I have no needle with him at all. The only problem I have is he's coming to take my belts. I will train to hate him. He's coming for that belt, I need it and I'm the lion in the cage fighting to keep it."

'The best of his generation' - Analysis

BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Bunce:

The Billy we saw against Lemieux gives any middleweight a hard time.

This Billy Joe Saunders is so close to becoming the best British fighter of his generation if he has half the year we think he is going to have this year.

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