By Scott Gilfoid: If WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) can successfully defend his WBO title this Saturday night in his second defense of his strap against unbeaten #1 WBO Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 KOs), he’d like to then face IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) in a unification fight in 2016.
Lee, 6’2”, thinks he has the punching power, boxing skills and the experience to give Golovkin his first defeat. Golovkin is also interested in facing Lee for his WBO title. However, for that fight to happen, Lee must find a way to get past the 26-year-old Saunders, and that might not be an easy thing to do.
Saunders isn’t the type that just stands and trades like a traditional slugger, as we saw last Saturday night with slugger Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan easily getting beaten by Chris Eubank Jr. Saunders prefers to use in an out attacks to inflict damage and win rounds. For Lee to win this fight, he is going to need to be able to time Saunders to nail him with big shots. Lee is also going to need to be able to put a lot of pressure on Saunders to cut off the ring and force him into brawling.
“You have to be an animal if you want to beat an animal. And I’d do that,” Lee said to skysports.com about how he would go about beating Golovkin. “It’s all speculation and if I don’t beat Billy Joe Saunders it won’t happen. But I believe I am the only one who can give him [Golovkin] a serious challenge out there. I have the size, the punch and the boxing ring craft.”
At this point, I do not even know if Lee can get past Saunders. I really have serious doubts that Lee is going to win this fight, because he’s looked less than spectacular in his last four fights. Lee has been out of the ring for the last eight months since his 12 round draw against Peter Quillin in April 2015.
Lee was knocked down twice in that fight, and he had to rally in the second half of the bout to get a draw. In Lee’s two previous fights before that, he had to come from behind to beat Matt Karobov and John Jackson by knockouts. If those fighters had been smart and just sat on their leads without mixing it up the way they were, they would have beaten Lee without any problems. Heck, Lee even looked terrible in his fight against little known Frank Haroche Horta last year in having to go life and death with him to win an eight round majority decision in April 2014. Horta is a journeyman with a 34-12 record.
What does that tell you about Lee? With Lee, he could very well easily have lost his last four fights. That is why I do not think he is going to beat Saunders on Saturday night, because Saunders has a good chin and he will not try and trade with Lee the way Quillin, Korobov and Saunders all did.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone push him [Golovkin] back or bully him like he does to his opponents,” Lee said about Golovkin. “And for me, you have to give him bit of that, not tense up or tighten up under the pressure he puts people under. You have to be an animal if you want to beat an animal. And I’d do that.”
The 31-year-old Lee is making a mistake of counting his chickens before they have even hatched, because he cannot be looking past Saunders for a fight against a talent like Golovkin. I mean, I could understand Lee looking past Saunders if he had the kind of talent and punching power that Golovkin possesses.
If this was Golovkin about to face Saunders this Saturday night, then of course it would be a cut and dried case where he was going to obliterate Saunders once he finally caught up to him inside the ring. Nevertheless, with Lee, he is not even remotely as talented as Golovkin in my view, and he has a nasty habit of falling behind in his fights.
If Lee falls behind against Saunders on Saturday, I see Saunders milking his lead by playing it safe in the second half of the fight to win a decision. Saunders is not stupid. He is not going to make the same mistakes that Lee’s past opponents have made by getting too greedy once he has built up a sizable lead over him.