Billy Joe Saunders believes he is a “level above” Martin Murray but says their world title fight will show how he compares to knockout king Gennady Golovkin.
WBO middleweight champion Saunders, who is keen for a title unification fight with Golovkin, will face his fellow Briton in London on June 23.
Title challenger Murray took Golovkin past 10 rounds in 2015 but is one of 33 men to have been knocked out by the undefeated Kazakh, who holds the WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO belts.
“Martin, I look at him, he went 11 rounds with Golovkin, fought his heart out and I’ve got to give him respect for that,” said Saunders.
“I would like to get in there, test myself; am I as good as Golovkin with Martin Murray? Will I do a better job, can I not do a better job?
“It’s a good test to see where I’m at with the top guns.
“Martin’s a good fighter but if I can’t beat these fighters then I’m not the man I think I am, I shouldn’t be in there with Golovkin or Canelo (Alvarez).
“I believe that I’m a level above and the only way to prove that is to show it.”
Saunders has won all 26 of his professional fights and aims to defend his title for the fourth time following victories over Russian Artur Akavov, American Willie Monroe Jr and, most recently, Canada’s David Lemieux.
For 35-year-old Murray the meeting at the O2 Arena – initially scheduled for April 14 before Saunders suffered a hand injury – represents his fifth shot at becoming a world champion.
Saunders feels Murray’s career has become desperate and hopes defeating him will lead to fights with higher-profile opponents, including a potential contest with Golovkin.
“A desperate man is a dangerous man. I’ve been in desperate situations myself before and probably not as desperate as Martin is at the minute so he’s a very, very dangerous man,” added 28-year-old Saunders.
“I don’t know what it’s like to get beaten and I don’t want to know.
“I’m chasing the big fights. They’re not coming to me so I have to chase them.
“Once I take care of business on the 23rd, then we’ll see who’s up for it. We’ll see what super-middleweights and middleweights want it then.”
Golovkin was scheduled for a Las Vegas rematch with Alvarez on May 5 following their draw in September but the Mexican withdrew after failing a drugs test before receiving a six-month ban.
The 36-year-old will now fight Vanes Martirosyan on that date.
Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren believes his fighter’s impressive defeat of Lemieux in December has “scared off” Golovkin.
“I think Bill pulled off the best performance of a British boxer away from home since Tyson Fury beat (Wladimir) Klitschko when he beat David Lemieux,” said Warren, who represents both Saunders and Murray.
“Unfortunately for him, I think that’s scared off Golovkin because they did approach us but it was very airy-fairy and I don’t think either Canelo or Golovkin want to fight Billy Joe Saunders.
“He’s got to win this fight (against Murray), come through and force fights and make things happen.”
For Murray, the upcoming fight represents a chance to become a hometown hero and increase his earning potential.
“There’s never been a world champion from St Helens so I want to create a legacy for myself,” he said.
“There’s that part of it but obviously there’s the money part of it.
“There is now a chance for me to get those big-money fights, which I crave to look after myself and my family.”