I don't take drugs: Billy Joe Saunders slams trolls - and praises Sheffield boxers fighting for 'peanuts'

Billy Joe: "I'm clean"
Billy Joe: "I'm clean"

Sheffield-trained Billy Joe Saunders has dismissed suggestions his impressive condition owes to performance-enhancing drugs and questioned how it possibly could be while he is being tested by UK Anti-Doping.

The 28-year-old tonight makes the second defence of his WBO middleweight title against America's Willie Monroe Jnr and hopes to use victory to secure a unification fight with the winner of Gennady Golovkin versus Saul Alvarez.

The fight is his first with his new trainer Dominic Ingle and is one for which he is in perhaps his finest ever shape, particularly given he has so regularly lacked discipline.

Only earlier this summer, Alvarez revealed he had not recognised Saunders at a press conference in London because he had been so overweight.

The prospect of fighting Golovkin or Alvarez for all four world middleweight titles and Monroe Jnr's abilities mean he has not risked again being under-prepared and that has led to Ingle defending him amid accusations of doping via social media.

"Proper boxing people who know me and know of me know that I've never taken a drug in my life," Saunders said. "I've never, ever, ever taken any sort of drug in my life.

"Anybody that knows me personally knows I wouldn't do that. Let's face it, if you've got to cheat to beat someone then are you really a champion?

"You get a lot of haters. They're probably looking at me thinking 'his body's changed'.

"They can say I'm on drugs. I'm on the best drug (testing) programme. I'm on UKAD - they randomly test you. They can turn up four times in one week, seven days a week. I've been tested in this fight.

"It gets on your nerves. If you go and stay somewhere you've got to tell them where you're at. But I just leave it to Dom and my lawyer. I just text them 'I'm here' because it is a headache.

"I have it at my place at 6am-7am. If I get up at 7.30am for my run, if they're not there at 7am then I can go and do my run but it is a nightmare."

Much of Saunders' preparations have taken place in what he considers the "bleak" environment of Fuerteventura but while in the UK he had relocated from Hertfordshire to Wincobank, Sheffield, where he discovered an unexpected source of inspiration.

"You see the kids fighting for peanuts and they're training and they're living the life," said Saunders, whose seven-year-old son Stevie punched and kicked Monroe Jnr below the belt at Friday's weigh-in. "I'm thinking 'F***ing hell'. I'm following suit what they're doing. I'm world champion.

"I can now see these kids fighting on a Saturday, back in the gym on a Sunday and they're getting what, £3,000? I'm thinking 'F***ing hell, that's dedication'. It took me a couple of times to realise.

"I was thinking they're probably just trying to impress me. Then you see it: they're fighting, they're back in the gym. They're fighting, they're back in the gym. That's the way."