Andy Lee: Saunders is going to have to punch with me
By Scott Gilfoid: WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) isn’t too worried about the change of date and venue for his title defense against No.1 WBO Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 KOs). Lee expects to be able to get the better of Saunders regardless of where the fight is staged. The fight will be taking place on October 10th at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.
The fight was originally scheduled for September 19th in Limerick, Ireland. However, Lee came down with a virus, which made it necessary for the fight to be postponed until October. It’s unclear why the fight was moved from Ireland to Manchester, but I think it’ll work out favorably for Lee because with the fight being staged in England, it means that the crowd will be pro-Saunders all the way.
If you’ve seen any of Saunders’ past fights, you’ll not that he seems to fight with more bravery when he’s being cheered on by his loyal boxing fans. That’s potentially a negative for Saunders if he fights in an aggressive manner against a puncher like Lee, because he’ll know you out if you try to slug with him.
The only times where Lee has been beaten in the past was when he fought guys that were rugged and powerful in a prime Brian Vera and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Lee later avenged his loss to Vera.
“Saunders is going to have to punch with me,” Lee said earlier today at the press conference.
It’s true. Saunders will need to punch with Lee if he wants to get the victory because he’s not going to be able to beat him by running around the ring, looking to pot shot. Also, Saunders doesn’t have the stamina to fight like that for an entire fight. Saunders looked kind of chubby today, and even if he takes that blubber off, I suspect he’s not going to be able to run around the ring for 12 rounds without gassing out badly like he did in his close/controversial 12 round decision win over Chris Eubank Jr. last November.
Saunders gassed out badly in that fight, and you’ve got to blame it on him because of his constant movement. Much of the movement Saunders makes is senseless. He’s moving seemingly for no reason even when he’s on the outside. You just want to shake him in his ear that he doesn’t need to be moving around like he does. I had Eubank Jr. winning that fight, by the way.
“It was very disappointing because a fight in Limerick would have been a dream come true but it wasn’t to be,” Lee said via skysports.com. “It was the right call – I’m going to need to be 100 per cent in order to win against Billy Joe so I had to get over it and focus on my next fight. It was a close fight anyway and now it’s even closer than it was before. There’s a lot of pride on the line and we’re going to leave it in the ring.”
Dan Rafael of ESPN says he’s heard rumors that the Lee vs. Saunders fight was moved from Thomand Park in Limerick to Manchester due to poor ticket sales. Whatever the case, I think it works out well for Lee because he can fight a guy that will be coming at him a lot more in Manchester than he would have had they staged the fight in Ireland.
The undercard of the Lee-Saunders fight is loaded. Here are the fights on the card:
Terry Flanagan vs. Diego Magdaleno
Liam Smith vs. Michel Soro
Luke Blackledge vs. Lee Markham
Thomas Stalker vs. Craig Evans
Adrian Gonzalez vs. Jon Kays
Liam Walsh vs. TBA
Jack Catterall vs. TBA
“Just like it would have been for Andy in Ireland, it will now be a dream come true for me to win a world title on what I consider to be home soil,” Saunders said.
If Saunders is going to win this fight, then he’s going to need to be able to stand in the pocket and trade with Lee. In other words, Saunders isn’t going to be able to get a cheap win like he did against Eubank Jr. by running around the ring all night long and not looking to trade shots. Lee will take the fight with ease if all Saunders does is run all night long, because there’s no way the judges will give the fight to Saunders if he shows fear of the battle.
Lee will definitely get the nod if he’s seen chasing Saunders around the ring for 12 rounds. That’s why Lee said it himself that Saunders is going to need to trade with him on October 10th. Lee understands that if Saunders fights timidly, he’s going to get beaten. The chunky Saunders doesn’t have the body to be running around the ring like a gazelle.
It takes a certain body style to fight like that, and Saunders doesn’t have that kind of body, especially now with him having put on weight recently. In Saunders’ last fight, he weighed in at 173lbs. My goodness, he was a light heavyweight and not a solid one at that. Saunders was a flabby light heavyweight. It’s hard to believe that a fighter only 25-years-old is already that heavyweight. Can you imagine the kind of weight problems Saunders will have when he hits his late 20s and early 30s.
It goes without saying that he’ll need to move up to super middleweight, and I just don’t see him being able to have much of a future in that weight class against talents like Andre Dirrell.
“When it gets to the nitty-gritty and you have your fans behind you they can give you that little bit more of a push and bring that extra out of you, so it could be a factor,” Saunders said.
See what I mean about Saunders bragging about having his fans on his side for the Lee fight. Yeah, Saunders will have the fans on his side for this bout, but I see it ending really badly for him with him being egged on by his boxing fans to attack Lee. Once Saunders does that, I see him getting knocked out fairly quickly.
I think it would be better for Lee to win this fight than Saunders, because Lee has expressed interest in wanting to fight IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in a unification fight. Saunders is already on record of saying he has no interest in fighting Golovkin. As such, if Saunders beats Lee, we probably will never see Saunders vs. Golovkin. But if Lee wins, we could see a huge fight between him and Golovkin in the future.