Billy Joe Saunders earns stoppage win over Charles Adamu

Author: Daily Mail
Billy Joe Saunders (right) won comfortably against Ghana's Charles Adamu

Billy Joe Saunders came into 2018 on the cusp of mega-fights with the cream of the middleweight division.

On Saturday night he ended it out of shape and in front of near-empty arena - but back in the ring at last.

More than a year after he dismantled David Lemieux in one of the finest recent displays by a British fighter overseas, Saunders capped a horrific 12 months with a one-sided win over the overmatched Charles Adamu.

It was a fight to shed the rust for a brilliant boxer who has fought only three times since 2015. And also a chance for Saunders to give one fan the experience of a lifetime.

At the Manchester Arena he was accompanied to the ring by a four-year-old boy named Denver Clinton, who suffers from a rare form of cancer and is no longer responding to treatment.

It was a lovely touch that rightly roused the sparse crowd. And, in truth, trying to get the youngster to strike a pose for the cameras proved more trouble for Saunders than Adamu could muster before he was pulled out at the end of the fourth.

Nicknamed 'The Crusader', the Ghanaian showed next-to no ambition and was easy target practice for the brilliant Saunders, who came into the ring more than stone over the middleweight limit.

It was the heaviest he's ever weighed in a professional ring and a physical illustration of how his career has stalled in recent months.

Since beating Lemieux, he has lost his WBO world title following a failed drugs test and hit the headlines for some distasteful out-of-ring antics.

But now, at last, he is back where he belongs.

Should he kick on over the next 12 months, this will become a forgotten footnote in his unbeaten career.

But, thanks to his generosity, it will prove an unforgettable experience for the newest member of Team Saunders.