WATCH: Touching scenes as Billy Joe Saunders calls young cancer survivor into the ring after first defence
Billy Joe Saunders may have been embarrassed by his performance in his first title defence, but he can be proud of his actions inside the ring directly after the fight.
The ring rust was palpable during Saunders' successful WBO title defence against Artur Akavov at the Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley, Scotland on Sunday.
The fight marked his first since he claimed the belt by defeating Irishman Andy Lee almost a year ago. He then turned down an offer to fight knockout monster Gennady Golovkin, a rematch with Chris Eubank never materialised while a hand injury saw his return to the ring postponed.
It wasn't a vintage performance, but the champion got the job done, winning the fight on points (116-113, 116-112 and 115-113). After the final bell sounded he was his own harshest critic, addressing his lacklustre performance and admitting that a lot of work needs to be done before he takes on GGG.
"I'd like to apologise to the fans especially those who have paid for it, it was a terrible performance. I'm honest man. That was terrible. A win's a win."
"I've been out a year, a bit overweight. A few adjustments to camp. Just flat, really, really flat. I've called Golovkin out, but on that performance I want to be embarrassed."
However, there was a touching moment after the fight when Saunders diverted the spotlight away from him by inviting a young cancer survivor into the ring. He explained that Lee had won his first bout the day before before exclaiming "he's the champion" and raising the young fighter's arm into the sky.
He signed off by telling everyone to "watch out for the future star" as the fans inside the arena applauded young Lee.
— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) December 4, 2016