Saunders beats Lee – results
By Jim Dower: In a close fight, #1 WBO Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) defeated WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) by a 12 round majority decision on Saturday night to win the WBO 160lb title at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK. The judges scored the fight 114-112 and 115-111 for Saunders, and 113-113 even.
Saunders knocked Lee down twice in the 3rd round with big shots. That round proved to be a crucial round, as Saunders ran out of gas in the last 8 rounds of the contest.
In the first knockdown in the 3rd, Lee missed a shot and Saunders countered him with a short right to the head that put Lee down on his side. Lee looked really hurt and it took him a while to get up from the knockdown. When the action resumed, Saunders knocked Lee down with another right hand to the head. It was a good shot. Saunders then tried to finish Lee off, but he was clipped by a hard right hand that seemed to hurt him a little. Saunders admitted afterwards that he was worried about getting knocked out the way Matt Korobov did, and that’s why he backed off from trying to finish Lee off. He didn’t want to get careless.
Saunders showed tonight why the oddsmakers had him as the favorite with the late money going to him. He was too fast for Lee in the early going, and it made it impossible for Lee to land his big power shots without getting countered.
Lee appeared to win the last five rounds of the fight, but he was too far behind to catch up.
“He’s been in with Peter Quillin and Pete Quillin couldn’t beat him,” Saunders said after the fight. “He’s been in with Matt Korobov. They’ve all had him hurt. I know he threatened me with his power. I’ve got a good chin. I’m a world champion. I wouldn’t say no to no fight, but Andy Lee is a great fighter. I beat a good champion and a good sturdy champion. I used his power against him. When I was boxing him, he got a little careless. I stopped and rolled one and caught him. It was a good shot. I made him miss. With someone as fast as me, you’ve got to keep your hands up. I’m not the biggest puncher in the world, but it shows you can punch. Andy Lee showed that he can be dangerous. He actually caught me with a shot when I tried to finish him. He didn’t hit me, but I learned from Korobov. I don’t need to rush and I got back to my boxing and recuperated. If you take away that lead hand from him and he’s been beaten three times,” Saunders said.
WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith (22-0-1, 12 KOs) retained his WBO title by stopping an over-matched #9 WBO Jimmy Kelly (16-1, 7 KOs) by a 7th round knockout on.
Smith, 27, appeared to knock Kelly down in the 7th round only to see the knockdown ruled a slip. Nevertheless, moments later the fight was halted by referee Marcus McDonnell with Kelly badly hurt and not fighting back on his feet. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:35 of the round. Kelly would have gone down if not for the referee halting the fight because he was barely standing up.
In the 6th, Kelly had two points deducted for a blatant head-butt.
WBO Inter-Continental super featherweight champion Mitchell Smith (13-1, 7 KOs) saw his short title run end on Saturday night in losing to challenger George Jupp (13-2, 4 KOs) in losing by a 10 round unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 98-94, 96-94 and 97-93.
Commonwealth junior middleweight champion Liam Williams (13-0-1, 8 KOs) spanked Kris Carslaw (22-6, 5 KOs) in stopping him in the 2nd round to win the vacant British 154lb title.
Williams dropped the over-matched Carslaw down once in the 1st and another time in the 2nd. The fight was stopped at 0:10 of the 2nd by referee Michael Alexander.
Paul Butler (20-1, 11 KOs) defeated Silvio Olteanu (15-9-1, 6 KOs) by a 6th round TKO to win the vacant WBO European super flyweight title. Butler, 27, knocked the 37-year-old Olteanu in the 2nd round to get the stoppage.
WBO Inter-Continental super lightweight champion Jack Catterall (14-0, 9 KOs) stayed unbeaten in defeating challenger Noe Nunez (15-3-1, 12 KOs) by a 3rd round knockout. Referee Phil Edwards stopped the contest at 2:58 of the 3rd round.
Lightweight Thomas Stalker (10-1-3, 2 KOs) fought to a 10 round draw against Craig Evans (14-1-2, 3 KOs) in a clash for the vacant WBO European lightweight title. The final judges’ scores were 95-95, 95-95 and 96-94 for Evans. In the 9th round, Evans was cut above his right eye.
Unbeaten middleweight prospect Vijender Singh (3-0, 3 KOs) stayed undefeated by stopping Samet Hyuseinov (7-8, 1 KOs) in the 2nd round of a scheduled four round contest.
Unbeaten middleweight Joe Selkirk (14-0, 8 KOs) defeated Zoltan Turai (6-9, 4 KOs) by a 1st round knockout.
Other boxing results on the card:
Raza Hamza TKO 1 Michael Stupart
Anthony Yarde TKO 1 Curtis Gargano