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Golovkin loses chance for shot at WBO title

Boxing: Golovkin vs LemieuxBy Scott Gilfoid: You’ve got to feel a little bad for IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Not only has he lost out on a title shot against WBC 160lb champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez after the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said that Canelo can take a voluntary defense in the first quarter of next year, but Golovkin also lost out on an opportunity to fight a unification fight against WBO champion Andy Lee.

The Irish fighter lost his WBO title last weekend in a close and some would say controversial 12 round majority decision defeat to British fighter Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) in a fight that took place in England at the Manchester Arena. It looked to many casual observers that Lee had done enough to deserve a 12 round draw, but two of the judges gave Saunders the win.

The bad thing about Saunders as the new WBO middleweight champion is he doesn’t want any part of sharing the ring with Golovkin. He respects the Kazakhstan fighter a whole bunch, and doesn’t want to fight him for another 18 months unless he’s offered an incredible 4 million pounds [$6 million U.S dollars] to fight him.

“I know he [Golovkin] wants to win all the titles, but I’ve got to do what’s best for my career. I think Golovkin realistically, I’m 18 months away from that fight,” Saunders said.

This is so, so sad that Saunders doesn’t want to do the right thing and face Golovkin in a unification fight. It would have been a great fight for the sport to elevate it to the highest levels so that we could have eliminated one of the paper champions and given the fans a chance to get a unified title holder. Heck, Saunders might have been able to pull off another upset if he had taken the fight with Golovkin. I mean, if the fight took place in the UK, maybe Saunders might get lucky again with the judges siding with him.

Saunders lucked out last Saturday night in the UK with the judging for the Lee fight, so maybe he could get lucky a second time? Somehow I don’t think Golovkin would be of mind to let the judges have any role in a fight against Saunders. I think Golovkin would chase Saunders down, take whatever counter shots he wants to land, and blast him into smithereens in that order.

“I’m still learning and just became world champion,” Saunders said. “He’s [Golovkin] a good fighter, very good, but I know in time I’ll take it,” Saunders said.

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I wonder what Saunders means when he says “I’ll take it.”? Does he mean he’ll beat Golovkin in the next 18 months after learning stuff before then? I highly doubt that. As far as I can tell, Saunders is about as good as he’ll ever be. I don’t see any improvement over the performance he put in against Chris Eubank Jr last year in November 2014. Saunders ran out of gas in the same way in the second half of the Lee fight like he did in the second half of his fight against Eubank Jr last year. There was absolutely no improvement in Saunders’ game as far as I could see. Saunders just looked a little older, and just as weak as he did in that fight.

For Saunders to improve enough to beat Golovkin, he’d need to find some punching power somewhere in the next year and a half that would help him keep Golovkin off of him. You’re kind of born with punching power unfortunately. If you’re 26 like Saunders, you’re about as powerful as you’re ever going to be. It’s not like Saunders is going to suddenly become a devastating knockout artist when he turns 27 or 28. I don’t see that happening. I think he’s as strong as he’s ever going to be, and that’s not very powerful.

18 months from now, I don’t see Saunders facing Golovkin. If Saunders is still the WBO champion by that time, I think he’ll be focusing on fighting local guys like Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee and Tommy Langford rather than dangerous fighters. In other words, I think Saunders will be just milking his WBO title against guys that he has a good chance of beating. Lee is still a very tough fight for Saunders, as is Eubank Jr. as well. But I do not see Saunders facing truly dangerous fighters that would take the judges out of play like Golovkin. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto won’t waste their time fighting Saunders, because they’re not looking to win all the middleweight titles like Golovkin. They don’t need to have the titles to validate their careers the way that Golovkin seems to. It would be seriously pointless for Canelo or Cotto to fight Saunders and take his WBO title, because it wouldn’t be a good business fight because the American public wouldn’t get excited about a match-up of that title. Further, Canelo and Cotto wouldn’t get much credit if they whipped Saunders because the casual boxing fans in the U.S don’t know who Saunders is and probably don’t care to know. I’m just saying.

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