COUNTY Durham boxer Bradley Saunders has been handed the tough test he had been hoping for when he returns to the ring later this month.

Saunders was left frustrated a week ago when it emerged a potential intercontinental belt match-up with former British champion Paul McCloskey had been scrapped due to an injury to the latter.

After extensive talks behind the scenes, the Marbella-based light welterweight has secured an intriguing contest with Scotland’s Mitch Prince at the Metro Radio Arena on Saturday, March 29.

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Prince has lost just two of his 16 professional fights and will represent another step up for Saunders as he looks to extend his unbeaten record since turning his back on the amateur ranks.

Prince, from Cumbernauld, took Commonwealth champion Willie Limond the distance in June last year and sees Saunders as an opportunity to climb up from the top 20 in his division in Britain.

Saunders said: “He will be coming to win, he comes to fight so he can have one. Wait until he hears my North-East crowd.”

McCloskey pulled out of the scheduled fight with Saunders in Newcastle due to a knee injury last week, leaving Saunders disappointed because a victory in that could have set up a shot at a British crown.

But Saunders is still hoping that his ninth professional fight with Prince will still be given title status. Discussions are ongoing between boxing chiefs and his management, Frank Warren.

He is keen to put on a show for his fans in his second appearance in the region since turning pro. The highly-anticipated show looks set to be a sell-out crowd because of the standard of boxing lined up.

The main event will see Darlington’s Stuart Hall put his IBF world bantamweight title on the line against West Rainton’s challenger Martin Ward The main support will be the British cruiserweight title fight between Birtley champion Jon Lewis Dickinson and challenger Neil Dawson.

Frankie Gavin, the British and Commonwealth welterweight king, is also in action defending his honours against closely matched African Sacky ‘Snake’ Shikukutu.

Local talents Josh Leather, Simon Vallily, Michael Hadfield, Thomas Patrick Ward and Jordan King are all looking to extend their unbeaten runs in front of their home crowd. There are other contests lined up too.