FIGHT PREVIEW: Lee v Saunders

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Boxing fans will receive an early Christmas present this year in the form of Andy Lee’s (34-2-1, 24 KOs) first defence of his WBO middleweight title against the undefeated British, Commonwealth and European middleweight champion; Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 KOs) in the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

This is the first world title fight to be contested by two members of the Traveller community. Irishman Lee was the first member of the Irish Traveller community to win a world title. Saunders, from Hatfield and with Romany Traveller roots is confident he can relieve the champion of his title.

“I’ve got nothing against him,” Saunders told Ring magazine, “but he’s got something I want and I’m going to get it.”

This bout has been a long time in the making with the fight initially pencilled in for August, until Lee fell ill with a virus and it was rescheduled for October when Saunders was then forced to withdraw after suffering a cut in training.

With the fight almost upon us the tension has been building and boxing analysts remain undecided of a clear favourite, with many calling this one a genuine 50/50 fight. For a pair of fighters with a great deal in common this is certainly a contrast of styles.

The two fighters have a strong amateur pedigree, both are former Olympians; Andy Lee being Ireland’s sole boxing representative as a middleweight in the 2004 Olympics, Saunders represented Team GB as a welterweight in the 2008 Olympics. Both fighters are southpaws but Saunders is regarded as a more natural boxer with Lee having developed a reputation for being a power puncher.

Following two stoppage losses against Brian Vera and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr earlier in his career, Lee rebuilt with a come from behind knockout victory over the hard punching John Jackson, followed by another stunning knockout victory over Matt Korobov for the vacant WBO middleweight title.

The win came almost two months after the passing of Lee’s manager and trainer the legendary  Emanuel Steward, who had a close relationship with the Irishman and was adamant in his belief that Lee would one day be a world champion. Lee dedicated his world title to Steward.

Lee’s last fight was a split draw against the former WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin. Lee was down in the first and third rounds but battled back to drop Quillin in the seventh and earn the draw.

Following the draw with Quillian, Saunders will be quite confident about his chances against Lee. Qullian potentially could have stopped Lee within the first three rounds, but his lack of pace allowed the Irishman back into the fight and after he dropped Quillian in the seventh, Lee was the aggressor for the remainder of the fight. On previous form Saunders has shown he starts well in fights and he certainly will have a game plan that will be focused on neutralising Lee’s power.

Trained by Jimmy Tibbs, the former trainer of Michael Watson and Nigel Benn and promoted by Frank Warren, Saunders has developed a reputation as a slick, busy fighter.

His last five fights have seen him defeat four undefeated fighters in a row. He inflicted the first loss on Gary ‘Spike,’ O’Sullivan’s record in July 2013. Then he won a close points decision against John Ryder for the British title. He stopped the light punching Italian Emanuele Blandamura in eight rounds and he won a split decision against Chris Eubank Jr in November 2011.

In both the Ryder and Eubank fights, Saunders used his jab to outwork his opponents in the early rounds, but down the stretch both Ryder and Eubank were able to mount an attack that brought them back into proceedings. Eubank even managed to rock Saunders with his left hooks in the final two rounds. The close nature of both these fight raise a question mark over Saunders stamina and ability to close out a fight.

In his last fight, a fourth round stoppage of Frenchman Yoann Bloyer, in July this year, Saunders weighed three pounds over the Super-middleweight limit. If Saunders has a habit of blowing up in weight between fights then this could be a possible explanation for the stamina issues in the closing stages of fights.

Lee also has questionable stamina in championship level fights. He was up on points against both Vera and Chavez Jr before an increase in tempo led to the stoppages in both fights. Despite these results, current trainer Adam Booth has impoved Lee’s fitness and introduced more variety into his punching.

It becomes clear why so many analysts are undecided it is very hard to split both fighters, but that is also the sign of a a good fight.

In the build up to the fight Lee told Steve Bunce of BoxNation that he believes he will stop Saunders sometime after the fifth round. Both fighters are southpaws, which can lead to unspectacular or sometimes ugly fights as left handed fighters are often calibrated for fighting against orthodox opponents.

The opening rounds may be a cagey affair and this will probably favour Saunders who will be expected to start well in this fight. He has not necessarily been expected to beat the opponents he has beaten to date, he has the ability to beat Lee so one cannot rule out Saunders continuing his winning streak.

That said, the last thing to leave any fighter is their punch. Saunders was rocked by a crisp left hook from Eubank Jr and Lee has made a habit of obliterating fighters with his right hook.

It truly is a 50/50 fight but in my opinion you cannot count Lee out at any stage of a fight, he is one of the most exciting and perhaps underrated fighters in boxing and he has ground out results through sheer grit, determination and dynamite punching.

In summary, this should be an entertaining fight and a fitting end to a fantastic year of boxing.

Lee v Saunders is live on BoxNation, Sky Channel 490 from 5pm

82af26efd7b651f18cbcd4c074def05c?s=117&d=mm&r=g
Bernard O'Shea
I'm like George Clooney, only without the face, physique or the charm. I am passionate about writing and I have a particular interest in soccer and boxing.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Rahul’s Historic Ton Thumps Bangalore

KL Rahul struck the highest score by an Indian in Indian Premier League as Kings XI Punjab beat Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs. Rahul, who scored 132 not out, also achieved the highest individual score by a captain and the best for a Kings XI Punjab player with a generous Royal Challengers Bangalore bearing the brunt of his assault, offering little in the form of resistance. After being invited to bat first, KXIP...

The Torchbearers Of Modern Football

We are standing at the end of an era that was tinted with brightness and glam. Two of the greatest sportsmen ever to grace the surface of earth are at the twilight of their careers. They are aliens, some say. Some say they are superheroes in shorts. Two names at the heart of the footballing world, for the best part of two decades. The torchbearers of modern day football. The pace-setters of the business...

Different Options For Purchasing Golf Shoes

Golf is one of the most popular sports among wealthy and upper middle class men. While some play golf competitively, others play golf as a hobby and for networking with others. The performance of the golfer depends to some extent on the golfing gear and equipment which he is using. Usually golfers are wearing special golf shoes, which are designed so that the golfer can play his shots comfortably, without slipping. Hence many of...

Russell Wilson Is An All-Time Great QB

Russell Wilson, 0 MVPs, 0 MVP votes, 0 respect. He is one of the best quarterbacks I've ever seen, and he is showing himself to be the MVP so far this year. Russell Wilson at every stage of his career has consistently been elite and has carried the Seahawks into relevancy. He is underrated, has been elite, and has been one of the best QBs in the world since he's gotten here. How is it that...

Super Fan Saturday – Rugby South Africa

In what has been an extremely long-awaited return for the game, South Africa will host their very first rugby game: Super Fan Saturday, since the sport was postponed back in March 2020. While this year may have been challenging times for the majority of the world, a doubleheader action-packed Saturday will bring something to look forward to locally. and keep every South African rugby fan at the edge of their seats. One of the nation's...

AFL Finals Locked In

This weekend's results conclude the heavily disrupted Australian Football League regular season, turning attention towards the Finals series in October. Across 18 rounds spanning six weeks, the race for the coveted Premiership trophy has been whittled down from 18 clubs to just eight. All that separates them from the 2020 flag now is four weeks of playoff matches that will culminate in the Grand Final. Port Adelaide secured the minor premiership by defeating Collingwood in the...

Rabada, Stonis star as Super Over settles dramatic IPL game

Kagiso Rabada and Marcus Stoinis starred for the Delhi Capitals as they controlled their nerves to edge Kings XI Punjab in Super Over. Rabada dismissed KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran while conceding just 2 runs in the deciding over. Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer batted for Delhi in the Super Over and settled the game in 2 balls. Heartbreak for Mayank Agarwal It was a heartbreak for Mayank Agarwal who scored 89 runs in 60 balls, but...

America’s Largest Amateur League Shines in Baseball’s “Lost Season”

2020 will forever be remembered as baseball’s lost season. The sport was shattered due to the COVID-19 pandemic virus outbreak. Baseball fans were out of luck this summer as they were entirely restricted from attending any professional or semi-pro live games. Watching on television or live stream wasn’t much better. Most of the MLB season was cancelled including the pre-season, the much anticipated Iowa Field of Dreams game, Puerto Rico series, London Series and All...

IPL: Mumbai Indians Lose Season Opener

Mumbai Indians lost an Indian Premier League (IPL) opener for the 8th successive year following a 5-wicket loss to Chennai Super Kings. Having lost the first game of the season in the last 7 years, Mumbai might have thought this was their time, as they were on a 5-game winning run against CSK. However, ex Mumbai Indians player Ambati Rayudu and South African superstars Faf du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi ensured that it didn’t...

When Did Formula One Begin?

If you ask virtually anyone the world over a simple question – “What is Formula One” they will probably get the answer correct.  It’s a car race!  Even though that might be a very simple reply (a better answer would be it’s the highest class of international single-seater auto-racing!) there is another question that will probably stump them.  That question is “When did Formula One begin?”. In order to answer the question properly we need...

Social Connect

1,184FansLike
3,687FollowersFollow

Trending Now

Super Fan Saturday – Rugby South Africa

In what has been an extremely long-awaited return for the game, South Africa will host their very first rugby game: Super Fan Saturday, since...
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x