Lee and Saunders have been bred to fight – says Fury
(Photo credit: Frank Warren) By Scott Gilfoid: Heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury sees tonight’s contest between Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 KOs) and WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) as a tough scrap involving what he sees as two “real men” battling it out at the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, UK.
Fury is sitting on the fence with this fight and not saying whom he favors in the fight. However, Fury does think the 31-year-old Lee will win if Saunders switches off for any length of time like he did in his close win over Chris Eubank Jr. last year in November.
“He [Saunders] can’t allow himself to switch off and let Andy back into the fight like he’s done a few times, like he did in the Eubank Jr. fight,” Fury said.
Fury makes it sound like it was a mental thing for Saunders in his fight with Eubank Jr. rather than a physical conditioning thing or something related to limitations with his cardiovascular system. I do not think for a second that Saunders’ problems in the Eubank Jr. fight were related to him being switched off like Fury is talking about. I just think that Saunders does not have the cardiovascular system to fight hard for 12 rounds at a high pace in the middleweight division.
Saunders does well against the gawd awful fodder that he has been facing for the most part, but when he fought someone that was fairly close to the same talent as him in Eubank Jr, he struggled because he had to fight hard. I think it is possible that much of Saunders’ problems are related to him taking off so much weight to fight in the middleweight division.
If he simply moved up to a weight division that was better for his body, I think he would be a better fighter, at least in terms of his conditioning. I do not necessarily think Saunders would do better at super middleweight, because there are so many better punchers in that division than him that it’s not even funny. Nevert the less, I do think his stamina would be a lot better and he had be able to finally fight hard for three minutes of every round without tiring.
“If Billy can box the right fight and make sure he concentrates throughout the whole 12 rounds then he can win the fight,” said Fury.
I agree with Fury about Saunders having a chance of winning if he can focus on his boxing skills for the full 12 rounds. Lee is going to test his chin repeatedly in this fight, and it will be interesting to see if Saunders can handle those big shots down the stretch run of the fight.
I have seen Saunders gas out even against weak domestic level opposition during his 22-fight career, and I suspect Saunders will fade tonight in the last four to six rounds if Lee pushes a fast pace. When Saunders gets tired, he gets sloppy does a lot of holding in every round. If he tries to reach out like a sleepy drunk for a clinch in the late rounds, I think this could go badly for him. Lee will time him with one of his right hooks and catch Saunders while he has his arms outstretched looking to hold.
“Andy Lee and Billy Joe have been bred to fight,” said Fury. “They’ve been raised as real men and I expect them to go out there and produce a great fight. Billy Joe is the better technical boxer out of the two but Andy has the punching power, so it’s a well-balanced fight,” Fury said.
I think Fury is going a little overboard with this “real men” stuff when talking about Lee-Saunders. It is the sport of boxing we’re talking about; not some macho garbage that Fury has made up in his head to dwell on. This is not John Wayne and the Westerns here. This is not a hog wrestling competition. It comes down to this; If Lee is the better fighter, then he’ll win. If not, then he’ll lose. This “real men” stuff that Fury is spouting is meaningless, because it’s a sport.
Lee and Saunders are two decent fighters, but far from the best in the division in my view. I think the winner of this contest will a good top 10 fighter, but definitely not a top 5 guy. I see too many better fighters in the middleweight division than these two guys.
To me, Lee is a paper champion with his WBO title, and Saunders is a bottom 10 contender. I rate a whole heck of a lot of other fighters as better than these two guys. Don’t get me wrong; Saunders and Lee are decent top tier contenders, but I see them both around the No.10 spot in the division right now in terms of overall talent.