Billy Joe Saunders and Ryan Burnett Headline Champions Weekend Cards Exclusively on ESPN+
Champions Weekend is coming to ESPN+, as two of the United Kingdom’s most dynamic fighters — former WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders and former unified bantamweight world champion Ryan Burnett — are set to headline separate shows.
Burnett will battle Jelbirt Gomera for the vacant WBC International super bantamweight title Friday at Ulster Hall in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Burnett-Gomera live stream will begin at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT exclusively on ESPN+ and will also feature a compelling vacant IBF European junior lightweight title fight between Declan Geraghty and Marco McCullough. Geraghty and McCullough were roommates in the Irish amateur ranks and will renew acquaintances with a world ranking on the line.
Saunders will take center stage Saturday, as he battles Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super middleweight title from Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, England. The Saunders-Isufi live stream will start at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT on ESPN+ and will also include the highly anticipated heavyweight showdown between 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist Joe Joyce (8-0, 8 KOs) and former world title challenger Alexander Ustinov (34-3, 25 KOs).
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Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) made three successful defenses of the title he won from Andy Lee on Dec. 19, 2015, punctuating his middleweight title run with a dominant decision over David Lemieux in December 2017. A 2008 Olympian, Saunders captured British, Commonwealth and European middleweight titles, defeating the likes of Chris Eubank Jr., John Ryder and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan. Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) has won 10 consecutive fights, most recently defending his WBO Intercontinental super middleweight belt with a unanimous decision over Mohamed El Achi in his adopted hometown of Munich, Germany.
Burnett (19-1, 9 KOs) recently signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and will be competing at super bantamweight after a sterling run at bantamweight. He defeated Lee Haskins via unanimous decision in June 2017 to win the IBF world title, and four months later, he bested Zhanat Zhakiyanov to unify the IBF and WBA super world titles. Burnett suffered his first pro defeat last November when he tore his oblique while throwing a punch versus Nonito Donaire and was forced to retire on his stool following the fourth round.
Gomera (14-5, 7 KOs) is a Filipino southpaw who will be fighting for the first time outside of Asia. He is a former Filipino super bantamweight and featherweight champion and is coming off an eight-round unanimous decision win over Lloyd Jardeliza.