Jacobs not overly impressed with Saunders or Lee
By Scott Gilfoid: WBA “regular” middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs was a guest analyst for Showtime Boxing tonight in working the Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) vs. Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) fight in their contest in the UK. Jacobs came away from the experience disappointed in both fighters, as he thought neither of them distinguished themselves in any way.
Saunders, the winner of the fight by a 12 round majority decision, was more extinguished than distinguished in winning by the scores of 115-111, 114-112 and 113-113. The only judge that seemed to have his head on correctly in my view was Marcus McDonnell, who scored the fight 113-113. You can make an argument that was a fair score because Lee appeared to win 8 of the 12 rounds.
What bugged the talented Jacobs about the 31-year-old Lee was how he lacked fire to get back into the fight after getting dropped twice in the 3rd round. Jacobs couldn’t understand how Lee failed to motivate himself to attack Saunders in the way that he needed to in order to come back from those two early knockdowns.
Instead of going after Saunders, Lee seemed content to stand on the outside, jab from the safety of the outside, and play it safe. It’s as if Lee didn’t trust his own chin to take one of Saunders’ occasional counter shots. For me, it was like watching former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko play it safe with one of his opponents. Lee and Wladimir used to have the same trainer in Emanuel Steward and they were known to workout with one another from time to time.
“I thought he [Lee] was going to be a big brawler, I thought he had better assets,” Jacobs remarked afterwards to the Showtime international audience about Lee. “He didn’t do enough for me. He was too complacent and after the knockdown you didn’t see that sense of urgency that a fighter has to have on the comeback trail.”
I totally agree with Jacobs. Lee did not fight the way a person does when they’re in a deep hole from having been knocked down and need to make up ground. Lee fought like someone who was nursing a big lead and didn’t want to take chances. I mean, I still think Lee did enough to salvage a draw at the minimum, but he definitely didn’t fight with the sense of urgency that he needed to.
“All credit due to Billy Joe, but it wasn’t an impressive victory,” Jacobs said.
I think Jacobs is correct about Billy Joe not being impressive in victory. If you block out the 3rd round, Saunders stunk up the joint tonight by not fighting aggressively the way a challenger needs to fight when challenging for a world title. Normally, challengers are expected to take the fight to the champions in order to rip the title belt from them. But what we saw tonight was Saunders having one good round in the 3rd in knocking Lee down twice, and then basically sitting on that lead by doing little more than jab.
It was like Saunders built up a big lead after three rounds, and then went into a big stall to ride out the victory. I don’t think Saunders did enough to get the win. As poor as Saunders fought in the last nine rounds of the fight, he only deserved a draw at best and I think he should have lost the fight.
“I think he’s an incredible talent, and I think me putting my skills up against him would be a barn-burner,” Jacobs said about Saunders.
Jacobs seems lukewarm about fighting Saunders in a unification. While he was interested in facing Lee if he had won the fight because it would have been potentially a big fight in the New York area due to Lee’s large fan base over there, Jacobs sound excited about fighting Saunders. It doesn’t make sense to fight Saunders because there’s no interest in a fight like that in New York. The casual boxing fans don’t know who Saunders is, and it wouldn’t matter if Jacobs fought him for his WBO title.
“We’ll do whatever makes sense,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s time to sit-down and figure what makes sense. Obviously it’s a good time to be a middleweight champion.”
It sounds like Jacobs is going to focus on defending his WBA title against the top contenders rather than looking for unification fights now that Lee is no longer a champion. Jacobs hasn’t expressed much interest in fighting IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin either, so Saunders shouldn’t be too worried if he’s not going to get a unification fight against Lee. However, I didn’t hear Saunders sounding off after winning the WBO title tonight about wanting to fight Jacobs. I don’t think Saunders is all that interested in fighting unification fights too.