FROM Sedgefield to the Costa del Sol, Bradley Saunders has made a life-changing decision in his bid to reach the very top of world boxing.
The County Durham light-welterweight is now spending the majority of his time in Marbella, Spain, training and pushing himself forwards as he looks to fulfil the potential he possesses.
Saunders has never been shy to admit he wants to fight for a world title – and win – and has made smooth progress so far by winning his first six fights; four by stoppage.
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Fight number seven will be on October 7 at a special charity dinner hosted by his manager, Frank Warren, at the London Hilton Hotel in Park Lane. Before he returns to Britain, though, he is putting the finishing touches to his preparations in the south of Spain.
Despite a glittering amateur career spent travelling around the world representing his country, it was still a huge decision for Saunders to leave his Fishburn roots behind and opt for lengthy spells in another country.
“It’s just so much better for me out here, I can just concentrate on my boxing,” said Saunders. “If I want to achieve the things I am targeting then it’s about doing things and changing things in my life. I want to provide for my family and hit the top in boxing, so that’s what I’m concentrating on now, nothing else.
“In the past I have not completely focused on my boxing. I am now. I have realised that’s what is required, so that’s why I have come over here to Marbella to base myself and train.
“It means I can get out of bed on a morning, go for a run in the sun, then head for the gym and do some work, maybe spar, and maybe go for another run later in the day. It’s perfect for me over here and I am already feeling the benefits.
“Even the sparring has gone up a notch because I’m over here. I’ve been sparring with Steve O’Meara, who has lost just three of his 17 fights, and other middleweights who have fought on the world stage. That’s what it’s about, testing myself, getting ready for my next fight.”
Saunders is set for an eight-rounder in London against an unconfirmed opponent and has been stepping up at the MGM Boxing Gym in Marbella, knowing his pro career is heading in to a crucial phase.
After his outing in the capital, the former Olympian – who won gold, silver and bronze during his time with England and Great Britain at worlds and European level – is expecting to be focused on his first North-East contest since his amateur days.
“I will be fighting closer to home in November, possibly at Gateshead,” said the 27-year-old. “I have to win this fight next week first, but then after that it will be nice to look forward to a fight in front of a home crowd again.
“I’ve not done a 12-rounder yet, that won’t be this year, probably early next year and then after that it will be all eyes on title tights. That’s what I want and Frank Warren knows that, he’s all for it.”
Since turning pro in February 2012, he has fought on some big time boxing shows while continuing his development with victories over Jason Nesbitt, Ivan Godor, Donny Donchev, Kevin McCauley, Peter McDonagh and Michael Kelly.
But the 27-year-old said: “It’s all about titles for me. That’s what I want. There’s no point me being in professional boxing if I don’t want to hit the top and that’s exactly where I want to get to.
“In the new year I will have my first 12-round fight and then I will be ready. Frank Warren can see what I want and believes I can go a long way, so they are backing me. I will get there.
“I’ve got some great sponsors supporting me, so that helps me to concentrate on my training over here in Marbella. I am putting the graft in, I’m going well and I know a title fight is just around the corner.”