England's Billy Joe Saunders fought in North America for the first time on Saturday night when he retained his middleweight world title by unanimous decision. Saunders gave hometown hero and former titleholder David Lemieux a boxing lesson in an HBO main event at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec.
Now former titleholder Daniel Jacobs hopes Saunders will remain on this side of the pond to defend against him in Jacobs' hometown of Brooklyn, New York, in the spring.
Jacobs has April 28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on tap for the second fight of his exclusive HBO deal, and he wants to challenge Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), 28, who has made three title defenses since winning a 160-pound belt in December 2015.
"Danny really wants to fight Saunders," Keith Connolly, Jacobs' manager, told ESPN on Tuesday. "Danny is not a guy who shies away from hard fights. We have April 28 pretty much locked in at the Barclays Center, and we would like Billy Joe Saunders to come over and fight Danny. I think it's the fight that makes the most sense for Danny, but I don't know if Saunders will come over. Getting Saunders over on April 28 to Barclays Center, we hope it can be done. I don't know what their plans are."
Jacobs lost a closely contested decision to unified world champion Gennady Golovkin on March 18, then returned for the first fight of his HBO deal on Nov. 11 and cruised to a near-shutout decision of previously undefeated Luis Arias.
Connolly said Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs), 30, would like to fight a top opponent in his next fight if possible and that Saunders makes the most sense to them because the top names in the division, Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, are likely headed to a May 5 rematch of their draw in September.
"We're not going to sit out nine months and play games. Danny wants to be active," Connolly said. "But if I'm Billy Joe Saunders' manager, I'm probably holding out to fight the winner of the Canelo-GGG rematch in September, but we will try to make the fight. Billy Joe Saunders looked great against Lemieux. We give him his respect for that. Danny legitimately wants the fight but I don't know if Billy Joe Saunders or (promoter) Frank Warren will do it.
"I think Danny is too high risk for Saunders for him to take that chance, but we'd love for him to come over in April and fight us. So we'll see. We will extend that invitation and see if he takes it. If he doesn't, then we will talk about Plan B."