PAISLEY, Scotland (AP) — Billy Joe Saunders enjoyed a successful first defense of his WBO middleweight title against Artur Akavov on Saturday night, with the British boxer starting slowly but finishing the 12-rounder strongly.
The three judges called it 116-113, 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Saunders (24-0) at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley.
With former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury at ringside supporting Saunders, the champion was determined to retain the title he won against Ireland's Andy Lee last December.
Akavov, previously beaten once in 17 fights but never stopped, looked impressive in the early stages.
Saunders started to move forward with more purpose, perhaps sensing the Russian was beginning to feel the effects of his earlier work, and took the eighth and ninth rounds.
Akavov came back at the start of the 10th but Saunders had gained control and soon had his man on the run, imposing himself in the final rounds to take the contest.