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Billy Joe Saunders joins Team Spike for Erislandy Lara fight

Billy Joe Saunders has shared some southpaw secrets with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan [31(21)-4(3)] ahead of the Irish world title bid this weekend.

‘Spike’ looks to fulfill his world title dream as he challenges for the WBA regular title on a Showtime card in Brooklyn this Saturday night.

To buckle the title around his waist he will have to wrestle it from one of the best lefties ever to throw a punch in Cuban star Erislandy Lara 28(16)-3(0)-3].

The Paschal Collins-trained fighter says he has no issue with trading leather with a southpaw but in a bid to try and gain an extra advantage he reached out to another left-leaning stylist of note for advice.

Former foe turned friend, Billy Joe Saunders has given the Cork fighter extra insight into what southpaws don’t like.

“I’ll draw on my experience of fighting Billy Joe Saunders,” O’Sullivan tells Irish-boxing.com when asked about the southpaw element of the fight.

“Billy is one of the best southpaws ever from the UK. I sparred many rounds with Billy and I actually spoke with him at length about this particular fight. We have spoken a number of times and he’s given me tips. He’s always supported me. I’ll draw on my experience of sparring and fighting Billy Joe.”

Former light middleweight titlist Lara is more than just a southpaw, he’s a quality operator who has performed at the top level for some time.

The 39-year-old hasn’t been tested since moving up the scales and claiming a middleweight strap but he still holds O’Sullivan’s respect.

“He has been referred to as one of the greatest fighters of all time. He has been a great champion and it’s an honour to share the ring with him,” he adds before declaring his stint as an elite champion is over. “But this is my time.”

Winning the title would prove a dream come true Spike and open the door to another childhood aspiration.

If he defeats Lara, the Rebel County power puncher would love to defend his title at Parc ui Chaoimh the venue close to where he grew up and where he watched his first fight live.

“I’d like to fight in Parc ui Chaoimh. That’s always been a dream since I attended my first boxing match there in 1995. Paschal’s brother Steve [Collins] fought [Chris] Eubank there. I always dreamed about defending my title in Parc ui Chaoimh and walking home to my mother’s house with the belt and we are getting closer and closer by the day. We have a rematch clause so we can bring Lara to there.”

When it comes to where he picks up the title the Celtic Warrior Gym fighter doesn’t care.

Be it live on Showtime at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the co-main event of the Gervonta Davis-Rolly Romero pay-per-view card or the Corduff Shoping Centre cark park, O’Sullivan’s only concern is the strap.

“I couldn’t care less about the stage. I’d fight him out in the car park. I’d fight in his back garden, my back garden, it doesn’t matter line the world title is on the line. I don’t care where the stadium or what tv station it’s on. it’s just about that championship and the history the championships has.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com